The persistent development towards decreasing batch sizes due to an ongoing product individualization, as well as increasingly dynamic market and competitive conditions lead to new changeability requirements in production environments. Since each of the individualized products might require different base materials or components and manufacturing resources, the paths of the products going through the factory as well as the required internal transport and material supply processes are going to differ for every product. Conventional planning and control systems, which rely on predefined processes and central decision-making, are not capable to deal with the arising system's complexity along the dimensions of changing goods, layouts and throughput requirements. The concepts of "self-organization" in combination with "autonomous control" provide promising solutions to solve these new requirements by using among other things the potential of autonomous, decentralized and target-optimized decision-making. A major enabler for the development towards autonomous changeable intralogistics systems are intelligent logistical objects (e.g. smart products, bins and conveyor systems) which are able to communicate and interact with each other as well as with human workers. To investigate the potential of automation and human-robot collaboration for intralogistics, a research project for the development of a collaborative tugger train has been started at the ESB Logistics Learning Factory in line with various student projects in neighboring research areas. This collaborative tugger train system in combination with other manual (e.g. handcarts) and (semi-)automated conveyor systems (e.g. automated guided forklift) will be integrated into a dynamic, self-organized scenario with varying production batch sizes to develop a method for target-oriented self-organization and autonomous control of intralogistics systems. For a structured investigation of self-organized scenarios a generic intralogistics model as well as a criteria catalogue has been developed. The ESB Logistics Learning will serve as a practice-oriented research, validation and demonstration environment for these purposes.
Schuhmacher, J., & Hummel, V. (2019). Self-organization of changeable intralogistics systems at the ESB Logistics Learning Factory. In Procedia Manufacturing (Vol. 31, pp. 194–199). Elsevier B.V. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.promfg.2019.03.031