The FlexIFF project

Flexible Intralogistics for Future Factories

Current manufacturing facilities already meet the limits of the required throughput of their products to be produced. This is because of requirements such as growing product diversity and short-term customer requirements. Despite a high level of automation, production chains lack flexibility to adapt to fast changing demand. To counteract this deficiency, partial processes are implemented as islands whose spatial arrangement and concatenation can be dynamically changed in the overall process. Due to the constantly changing production sequences and locations, transportation between the islands and their machines is difficult to automatize. FlexIFF introduces intralogistics task teams consisting of people, mobile robots and mobile manipulators. These cyber-physical systems are able to handle the transport steps which are necessary to execute the production plan in a coordinated manner. Human team members as well as operators keep an overview through assistance systems by the use of, e.g., augmented reality (AR)-supported interaction methods, and can intervene in support, provide solutions to new problems and optimize them.

Mobile robots are still restricted in industrial use especially in their path selection when dynamic changes in the application area arise which can lead to significant delays. Even in the case of mobile manipulators, which are designed as a combination of a mobile robot with a robot arm and can flexibly implement object manipulations, numerous unsolved challenges appear by frequent task changes. The FlexIFF project tackles these difficulties and provides solutions for safe, robust and efficient use of mobile robot systems in industrial environments. A user-oriented interaction and re-programmability, a safety-oriented self-perception and a context-dependent, kinematic motion planning of all robot systems and their components are identified as adequate tools. Also of main importance is the protection against electronic attacks of robot-based systems, which serve as interface between physical and digital world and are able to interact with humans. Cyber-security is therefore an integral part of the project and assumes a great significance. Based on the combined expertise of the consortium the partners can overcome the outlined challenges by the FlexIFF project and a significant progress through common research is assured. The project objectives are implemented into a workable overall system in an integrative way. The practical use-case of a participating large company demonstrates the industrial requirements, which can be served after the possible development of a commercially viable and mature solution.