Resource conservation in production: a key success factor
Skills shortages, international competition, and high wages underscore just how crucial it is to continuously optimize the use of resources at all stages of the value chain. To help with this issue, the Resource-Saving Production (RSP) network, which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action as part of the Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM), aims to provide support with the development of required digitalization concepts. Also participating in the initiative is Steinbeis Innovation & Management, which, among other things, is responsible for network management.
The focus of the RSP network currently lies in the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises in the area of contract manufacturing. The term contract manufacturing (or job order production) describes the outsourcing of individual steps of the production process as well as entire assignments to third-party service providers. There is great potential here to reduce the use of personnel resources for quotation calculation and work planning, especially when it comes down to a batch size of one.. Although these procedures require a great deal of experience, not to mention technical expertise, there are already a number of concepts for significantly improving the efficiency of this phase of operations, primarily by tapping into existing data using digitech.
Solving this issue does not necessarily have to involve wholesale automation; instead, the network aims to develop concepts, technologies, and methods that will foster gradual advancements in digital technology. For example, it could involve further simplifications to CAM programming or integrating AI technology beyond known CAPP systems.
The remit of the network is not necessarily limited to contract manufacturing, however. Given the imperative to achieve climate neutrality by 2045, in the future it will become increasingly important to understand how to log carbon emissions at a component level. The only factor that has been captured until now is the total energy requirement of a company. In the future, new concepts will also be needed to show how to derive the required optimization steps from generated data.
The RSP network currently counts among its members firms in the fields of metal processing, software development, AI and cloud technology, and carbon footprint assessment, although it is also interested in welcoming members from other sectors of industry. The network is scheduled to run for four and a half years. The experts at Steinbeis Innovation & Management are happy to provide advice and support to companies interested in looking further into this area.