Energy-intensive processes should take place when when the most electricity from renewable resources is is available.
Led by TRUMPF, thyssenkrupp Materials Services, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA and other partners are researching how to reduce CO₂ consumption in sheet metal production. The goal is a freely accessible online platform with which companies can precisely determine the CO₂ footprint of their component.
“Digitalisation is the key to more climate protection in industry. As a lead provider and lead user for digitally networked manufacturing, we bring everything we need to make the sheet metal world more sustainable together with our partners”, says Jens Ottnad, project manager at TRUMPF. The project started in June and will run for three years. Germany’s Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz is funding it with 8.3 million euros.
Online platform makes emissions consumption transparent
The online platform is intended to make it clear which measures in which production step would have the greatest CO₂-saving effect. To this end, TRUMPF and Thyssenkrupp Materials Services are linking their IT systems to the platform.
“In order to reduce emissions, companies need to know how large their own CO₂ footprint is. We want to create the necessary transparency for this via the online platform. In this way, we can simplify the implementation of regulations and also lay the foundation for the circular economy”, says Sebastian Smerat, project manager at thyssenkrupp Materials Services. Thanks to machine and production data, the project partners can evaluate measures for more sustainability throughout the entire supply chain. This includes, for example, the concrete CO₂ savings when users obtain additional components from a certain amount of metal or avoid unnecessary material transports.
“A special feature of de:karb is the reduction of CO₂ use through optimisations along the entire value chain. Here, methods of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning play a central role”, explains Marco Huber, who is responsible for the project at Fraunhofer IPA.
Technologies around AI and networking
According to the opening climate protection balance sheet of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK), German steel and sheet metal production causes around a quarter of industrial emissions in Germany. It is particularly energy-intensive to produce the raw material. Improving material utilisation in production is therefore a focus of the research project. To this end, TRUMPF is working on new technologies for nesting in order to cut more parts out of the sheet metal with the help of AI. Another aspect of the initiative is the optimisation of the scheduling process, i.e. the time sequence in production. Here, the Fraunhofer IPA is working on using AI to take ecological framework conditions into account during production. For example, it would be possible to have particularly energy-intensive production steps such as laser processing take place when as much electricity as possible from renewable resources is available.
CO₂ footprint as a competitive criterion
As the ecological footprint of manufacturing is increasingly becoming a competitive criterion, the partners are already responding to the changing needs of customers and companies with the project. “Especially in western markets, customers are paying more and more attention to the CO₂ emissions of companies. Those who can demonstrate particularly climate-friendly value chains secure competitive advantages”, says Ottnad. Other project partners are the management consultancies AEC and SES-Ingenieure, the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University, the AI start-up Nash and the sheet metal manufacturer H.P. Kaysser.