A multipurpose small-scale smart factory for educational and research activities

Ferrario, Andrea and Confalonieri, Matteo and Barni, Andrea Francesco and Izzo, Gabriele and Landolfi, Giuseppe and Pedrazzoli, Paolo (2019) A multipurpose small-scale smart factory for educational and research activities. In: UNSPECIFIED.

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As manufacturing industry is moving its steps towards a more digital, smart and flexible scenario, the changes required to achieve the expectations of the Industry 4.0 (I4.0) framework are numerous and extensive. Though, a general lack of understanding of how new technologies could be integrated and shall be implemented is present, limiting the rate of adoption of such changes and the related beneficial impacts. This paper describes the implementation of a smart-factory at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) aiming at filling the gap in I4.0 related skills development thorough a learning by doing approach, and providing a research platform that could foster collaboration of practitioners and academia on the development and testing of new technologies. The developed factory integrates different production technologies such as additive manufacturing, laser processing and milling, in order to produce a highly customizable item consisting in a TANGRAM game-set, packaged into personalized boxes. The entire factory is coupled with its digital twin, which is fed by an exhaustive monitoring infrastructure composed by vision systems and high precision measurement instruments, allowing to track in real time plant processes. The design has been carried out in order to make the smart factory serving as a mean to face both educational and research challenges at many different levels. As an educational mean, students and professionals have the chance to dive into manufacturing history experiencing both classical automation topics (PLC, MES and SCADA programming, precision axes control and pneumatics), as well as more advanced technologies, typical of the most advanced smart-factories (IoT, vision systems, simulation and digital twin, advanced measuring methods and smart production management systems). From a research point of view, the factory functions as a pilot plant for internal research and applied industrial projects, on the top of which applications, manufacturing methods and technologies are developed, tested and integrated.

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