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The next chapter of Industrie 4.0: KUKA’s Smart Factory

Augsburg/Hanover, April 2017 – KUKA presents the largest networked trade fair application in the history of the company at the 2017 Hanover trade fair at booth G04, hall 17. The Smart Factory combines technologies, products, solutions, and skills from KUKA into a highly flexible and networked production system.

25 April 2017

The Smart Factory is capable of manufacturing, packaging and supplying a highly customized product for trade fair visitors in an extremely short cycle time. The product is a puzzle, manufactured in a batch size of 1, that the visitors can take home with them.

A customized product – turned out in record time

The “customer” can start the order process at a terminal at the KUKA booth or online using a smartphone or tablet. The visitors choose their own individual image for their puzzle: In addition to default images, they can also upload their own photos or have a photographer take a picture of them standing next to a mobile, autonomous KMR iiwa robot.

A cloud-based analysis function classifies the uploaded images, describes and categorizes them and rejects inappropriate content to prevent puzzles with unsuitable images being printed. The visitors are then able to determine the shape of the puzzle pieces and place the order. The puzzle moves through all of the automated production steps in less than 15 minutes: the materials are fetched from storage, the image is printed, the puzzle pieces are cut by a laser, the image is glued onto folder and the product is supplied via a buffer store and repository. The customers can view the production status of their puzzle online at any time and are notified when the puzzle is complete.

Staying on top of progress at all times

A key element of the Smart Factory is "Synchronized Intelligence", or SynQ for short, the new software platform from Swisslog. It controls and monitors all of the logistical work steps that are related to the puzzle production process, from the order process and the organization of packaging materials right through to the collection process. SynQ makes use of an interface to communicate with the robots and system components and also communicates with each customer by email. The software creates replenishment orders, arranges the delivery of materials and produces statistics for all of the automated processes. This ensures that the processes are transparent and verifiable.

All robots, cells, and logistics of the Smart Factory are linked via the cloud-based software solution KUKA Connect. Thanks to the standardized interface of the KUKA SmartProduction solution, it is possible to observe and analyze the status of the Smart Factory and detect any potential malfunctions or imminent failures in good time. This reduces the costs of day-to-day production by minimizing downtimes.

KUKA's wealth of expertise in one system

The Smart Factory demonstrates that the flexible production systems of the future know no limits. A broad spectrum of services, machines, robots and software platforms can be linked to one another without making system operation too complex. In fact, an intuitive interface allows every customer, or in this case, the trade fair visitors, to operate the Smart Factory with ease.

The Smart Factory is the product of a clever collaboration involving all of the KUKA companies: robotics and system expertise from KUKA Systems, Industries and Robotics as well as production logistics from the Swisslog subsidiary. Add to this the IT and software expertise of various partners. With this combined know-how, KUKA is not only able to support its customers from the initial idea right through to the final factory system; the company is also able to advise customers on the various smart networking opportunities for everyday production.

The KUKA consulting approach for Industrie 4.0

Everyone is talking about Industrie 4.0. Yet actually implementing it is no easy task. At the KUKA booth, a team with a consulting ecosystem background will be advising customers on how they can generate real added value for their day-to-day production by way of digitization. In three stages, the team will develop practicable solutions that are tailored to the specific customer requirements.

Throughout the stages Explore, Design & Prototype and Pilot, the team will work together with the customer to develop tailor-made solutions. The goal: to use Industrie 4.0 as an opportunity to take individual components, processes, systems, or even areas of the company to the next stage. KUKA is supported on this journey by renowned partners who will be presenting their advisory packages at the HMI.

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