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„Charting new courses“

In discussion with Prof. Dr. Wolfram Volk

Digitized production and the use of Artificial Intelligence are the answer to three of the major tasks facing the world of forming and bending technology. To succeed in this, manufacturing companies have to chart entirely new courses according to Professor Wolfram Volk.

What are the current tasks facing forming and bending technology?

One key issue facing the world of forming and bending technology lies in the ability to adapt to changing constraints such as fluctuations in materials, temperatures or friction. The task here is to further develop active error correction and improve precision. The second task lies in minimizing waste and reducing the number of defective parts. The focus here is on one hundred percent automated error control with the aim of guaranteeing freedom from defects. Thirdly, it is becoming ever more important to trace data from the materials supplier through to the finished part in order to be able to track down the causes of any errors unambiguously in the event of a complaint.

What role do digitalization and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have to play in this?

The digitalization of production is one of the main responses to the current tasks. This is based on the use of inline sensor systems which record all the relevant data. First of all, the sensor data creates the necessary system transparency by providing a digital shadow. Equipment that is flexible and accessible like Bihler’s systems provides the perfect framework for sensor integration. Artificial Intelligence is then involved in the processing of the data in the form of learning models and data correlations. These make it possible to consider chains of cause and effect as well as to detect errors and threshold values. The corresponding AI applications can then react independently if required, for example in the form of actuators which automatically take remedial action when emergent quality problems are detected. Commercial AI applications of this sort are available in the IT field and the most pressing task for manufacturing technology now is to couple these with a robust sensor system and appropriate actuators.

What aspects of digitalized production are relevant to users?

The entry barriers to the use of AI in production are relatively low and it is possible to achieve significant success very quickly as long as you have the corresponding expertise. However, to do this, it is necessary to chart new courses through the entire field of data management and be open to new ideas. Solutions such as the coronavirus app show that this is perfectly possible while respecting all the data protection requirements. From this point of view as well, I am convinced that Bihler is a serious domestic digitalization partner with which manufacturing companies can generate crucial value added for themselves.

Professor Wolfram Volk (*1968) studied Physics and Mechanics at the Technical University of Darmstadt and graduated in 1999 from the Stuttgart Institute of Mechanics. He then worked at BMW AG in Munich. Since 2011, he has been a full professor at the Institute for Metal Forming and Casting (utg) at Munich Technical University and since 2016, he has also been a member of the Institutional Management of the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology (IGCV).


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