Digital control and connection of the machines has become normal practice in the plastics industry by now. New digital methods range from data collection to AI- based development of new materials and processes as well as AI-based production. The automated analysis of large amounts of data makes process-related data available for process control, further development of existing simulation models as well as for machine learning, and allows an ever better understanding of the processes. Digitalisation enables the connectivity and redesign of the value chain. Data concerning a particular material can be passed from player to player and can, for example, be applied to the regulation of downstream processes or be used to build holistic, controllable production systems. Digitalisation thus also makes a very decisive contribution to the Circular Economy and sustainability.
The IKV is a leading research institute in the field of digitalisation in the plastics industry and a cutting-edge research and development partner for science, industry and innovative start-up companies. At Campus Melaten a completely digitalised research environment and infrastructure, the Plastics Innovation Center 4.0 (PIC 4.0), is currently being created to conduct comprehensive research on digitalisation in plastics production. As a competent partner, the IKV offers the infrastructure and test beds for the development of new digital methods with the Smart Facility. The aim is not only to enable the plastics industry to deal competently with digitalisation methods, but also to train junior staff with Industry 4.0 expertise.
The Internet of Production (IoP) is based on the vision of enabling a new level of cross-domain collaboration by providing semantically adequate and context-related data from production, development and application in real time and adapted granularity. The central scientific approach for this is represented by digital shadows as application-specifically aggregated and multi-perspective data sets. In the Cluster of Excellence IoP, a conceptual reference infrastructure is being designed and implemented that enables the generation and use of digital shadows. The IKV is part of the Cluster of Excellence IoP, in which Aachen’s renowned scientists from production engineering, computer science, materials science and economics have gathered. Together, they address interdisciplinary challenges such as the integration of reduced production engineering models in data-driven machine learning with the goals of cross-domain knowledge building and context-adaptive actions.
The central goal of PolyEx is the development of an interconnected, digital platform for further training within the plastics processing trade. In addition to further training in relevant industrial occupations, it is particularly concerned with technically oriented crafts in which a significant level of understanding of plastics as a material is required.
The platform is to be built on artificial intelligence (AI), which will enable users to manage and coordinate their personal training paths, integrating individual interests and skills in the best possible way. Company requirements for the user’s skills profile are to be integrated and taken into account in order to increase the individualisation of the platform. In addition to further training courses offered by the IKV, courses offered by POLYSAX Bildungszentrum Kunststoffe GmbH and the Schwerin training and further education centre (Schweriner Aus- und Weiterbildungszentrum, saz) as well as other partners will be available.
In the KIOptiPack project, AI-supported tools that enable a successful product design and quality-assured production of plastic packaging with a high recycled content are to be provided, validated and transferred to application in an AI application and data space. This will be combined with the formation of a central digital platform for value creation engineering. The project and the related tools will cover the entire value chain from secondary raw material, material and packaging development, process design, packaging production to waste collection and processing as recyclate.