The competitiveness, productivity, and resource efficiency of the process industry crucially depend on the quality of the production plans. Today, production planning is mostly done manually which is slow, expensive, and inefficient. The automated computation of optimal production plans has the potential to improve the efficiency and the performance of production processes and the competitiveness of the process industry in NRW and beyond. Automated optimal production planning is an important milestone on the path towards Industry 4.0.

The large potential has also been recognized by the independent panel of experts who have just recommended to fund the research and innovation project OptiProd.NRW (Increased Productivity and Sustainability with Digital Production Optimization from NRW) that was initiated and is coordinated by INOSIM Software GmbH. In the final round of the Leitmarktwettbewerb IKT.NRW competition, 11 projects out of 44 submissions will be funded with 16 million Euros over the next years. The funds are provided by the state NRW and the European EFRE program.

In the OptiProd.NRW project, which will start at the beginning of 2020 and will run for 3 years, the project partners will develop a new software system that employs state-of-the-art methods of mathematical optimization and artificial intelligence to automatically compute optimal production schedules. To this end, INOSIM simulation experts will collaborate with two leading NRW-based companies from the chemical / pharmaceutical sector, Bayer AG and the associated partner Evonik, and with researchers and innovation experts from TU Dortmund University, the company PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the Innovations Kontakt Stelle (IKS) Hamburg.

Since the system uses detailed INOSIM material flow models that can predict the process behavior more faithfully than existing solutions, the computed plans can be used directly in production without any manual adjustments – a first for production planning. The new plans will reduce the environmental impact as well as the energy and resource consumption of the process industry, which ranks among the largest energy and resource consumers, while improving process performance. The process industry will thus be able to produce more sustainably, to save millions of Euros, and to strengthen its competitiveness on the international stage. To INOSIM, the new software system will be a truly unique selling point since no other manufacturer of production planning software provides a product with comparable capabilities.

Project coordinator Dr. Christian Sonntag is pleased by the trust that the expert panel has placed in the project: “The trend towards efficient and sustainable production is one of the key drivers that will shape the process industry over the coming years. The OptiProd.NRW project will provide a powerful tool to achieve this goal and to establish the brand Made in NRW as a global leader in digital production optimization.”

For more information, visit www.optiprod.nrw.

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