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Environmental awareness for cooperatively interacting resources

Through the new digital technologies complete new business models with innovative products and services are conceivable. At the same time, this leads to an increasing network of objects and systems that allow more flexible and efficient process chains. These developments are described with the keyword “Industrie 4.0”, whereby all objects are networked and decentralized.

In contrast to highly automated factory systems in which interaction between technology and human beings are hardly necessary, logistics systems must consider complex networks of human and non-human actors. In these socio-technical action systems (man-technology systems), the human being intensively co-operates both physically and in terms of information technology to fulfill a particular task. The efficiency of the overall processes results from the combination of human actions and machine control operations. The increasing process complexity also means that transport tasks compete with each other. A significant increase in the efficiency of transport processes can be achieved through cooperative operations.

This field of research is currently being worked on by Fraunhofer Institut für Fabrikbetrieb und-automatisierung IFF as part of the network of assistance in logistics through the EmuLog project.

The aim of the EmuLog joint project is to develop networked environmental awareness modules as the basis for cooperatively interacting resources for the intelligent logistics space. The environmental perception modules are intended to link logistical resources and human work in manual and automated processes in such a way that they optimally complement each other within the scope of the Intelligent Logistics Space to optimize transport and order picking processes.

By means of a determination of all relevant states of the operating means and the subsequent broadcasting of this information to all the participating equipment, the transport tasks can be coordinated with one another. As a central element for determining the states of the equipment as well as for the subsequent broadcasting, EmuLog develops and evaluates so-called environmental perceptual modules, which can perceive subspaces of their respective environment and propagate them to other networked participants, as well as receive information from other environmental perception modules and assess their local perception horizons can be included.

As a result, coordinated movement trajectories and states of all logistical operating means and subsequently a higher density, speed, utilization and safety of the operating means, which are now characterized as cooperatively interacting, are possible.