Franco-German graduate programme investigating the decentralised coordination of machines
How can machines and autonomous transporters collaborate independently in a smart factory? That can only work if there is a common system where information from all entities is saved and linked, and where all entities can access the information independently without being steered by an overriding central element. This is the central topic covered by the new graduate programme ‘SeReCo’ (Semantics, Reasoning and Coordination Technologies) at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), which is to be funded by the Franco-German University as of 1 January 2022. Research will focus on increasing the accessibility of online digital content for machines.
In order to allow production to be as efficient, in other words as energy and cost-saving as possible, all machines, transporters and materials must be able to interact independently without being steered centrally. For this to function, they need a uniform information basis. This necessary information is saved in a machine-readable form in the semantic web (Semantics). Over time, more and more information is added, linked and interpreted (Reasoning). This allows the abilities of certain machines to be compared to the steps required to produce the product and the most suitable machines selected for the job.
Other computer programmes which steer production in other factories, procurement or sales can then use this information. They adjust their behaviour accordingly (Coordination), thereby optimising the supply chain or processes within the factory. This allows a number of different entities to coordinate with each other without being steered centrally.
The Franco-German graduate programme will allow 20 doctoral candidates to complete a doctoral degree in Semantics, Reasoning and Coordination. As well as internal workshops in France and Germany twice a year, the doctoral candidates will also have the chance of attending summer schools and spending time doing research abroad with the partners involved in the graduate programme. Industrial partners will be heavily involved in order to ensure the doctoral degrees remain relevant and accurately reflect real requirements. The graduate programme aims to provide a shining example of a European doctoral degree in cooperation with industry.
‘SeReCo’ has secured funding of 250,000 euros from the Franco-German University for a period of four years. Prof. Dr. Andreas Harth, Chair of Technical Information Systems, is coordinating the project together with Dr. Antoine Zimmermann from École des Mines de Saint-Étienne (EMSE). Other partner institutions are the French university Jean Monnet Saint-Étienne, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.
Prof. Dr. Andreas Harth