Thyssenkrupp Materials Services, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering and Automation IPA and other partners, led by TRUMPF, are researching how CO2 consumption can be reduced in sheet metal production. The goal is a freely accessible online platform that companies can use to precisely determine the CO2 footprint of their component. The project started in June and will run for three years. The BMWK is supporting it with 8.3 million euros.
“Digitalization is the key to more climate protection in industry. As a leading provider and leading user of digitally networked production, we have everything we need to work with our partners to make the world of sheet metal more sustainable,” explains Jens Ottnad, project manager at TRUMPF.
Transparent emissions consumption through online platform
The online platform is intended to make it clear which measures in which production step would have the greatest CO2 saving effects. For this purpose, TRUMPF and Thyssenkrupp Materials Services are connecting their IT systems to the platform.
“In order to reduce emissions, companies need to know how large their own carbon footprint is. We want to create the necessary transparency via the online platform. This allows us to simplify the implementation of regulations and also lays the foundation for a circular economy,” says Sebastian Smerat, project manager at Thyssenkrupp Materials Services.
The project partners can evaluate measures for greater sustainability across the entire supply chain thanks to machine and production data. This includes, for example, concrete CO2 savings if users obtain additional components from a certain amount of metal or avoid unnecessary material transport.
“A special feature of de:karb is the reduction of CO2 use through optimization along the entire value chain. “Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning methods play a central role here,” says Marco Huber, who is responsible for the project at Fraunhofer IPA.
AI and networking
According to the opening balance sheet on climate protection from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK), German steel and sheet metal production causes around a quarter of industrial emissions in Germany. Producing raw materials is particularly energy-intensive. A focus of the research project is therefore to improve material utilization in production. TRUMPF is working on new technologies for nesting to use AI to cut more parts out of the sheet metal.
Optimizing the scheduling process is another aspect of the initiative, i.e. the timing of production. Here, Fraunhofer IPA is working on using AI to take ecological conditions into account during production. For example, it would be possible to allow particularly energy-intensive production steps such as laser processing to take place when as much electricity as possible from renewable resources is available. At the same time, the strategies should ensure users can process orders flexibly. The task of Thyssenkrupp Materials Services is to orchestrate the material, value and data flows using a digital platform to be developed. In this way, input materials and their characteristics can be traced. Uniform standards should allow networking.
Competition criterion CO2 footprint
The ecological footprint of production is increasingly becoming a competitive criterion, which is why the partners are already responding to the changing needs of customers and companies with the project.
“Customers, especially in western markets, are paying more and more attention to companies’ CO2 emissions. Anyone who can demonstrate particularly climate-friendly value chains will secure competitive advantages,” explains Ottnad.
Other project partners include the management consultancies AEC and SES engineers, the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University, the AI start-up Nash and the sheet metal manufacturer H.P. Kayser.