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Flexible Production Systems for Customized Production

The challenge of modern production is to meet individual customer demands while remaining competitive by producing on an industrial scale. Customized production offers prospects for growth and employment. It requires state-of-the-art technologies which promote efficient and flexible quality production while minimizing delivery periods. "Flexible production systems for customized production" is therefore a funding priority.
Making products to customer order is already a common feature in the car industry. Out of 10,000 cars coming off the assembly line today, no two have identical equipment. Industrial mass production is decreasing in importance. Production as well as services must increasingly be tailored to the specific needs of customers. At the same time, the pricing pressure increases.

All this makes new demands on companies in both the capital goods sector and the consumer goods sector. Improved capacities for customized production, particularly in mechanical and plant engineering and in the car industry, have a considerable economic impact. Production in Germany is in a good starting position here. Specific research activities will contribute to consolidating this position.


Research activities in this funding priority follow holistic approaches ranging from the development of customized products to new production techniques and equipment, from company networks and logistics for efficient customized production to the qualification of staff. The thematic fields include inter alia:

  • New machine tools
  • Assembly expertise: acting globally, assembling in Germany
  • Joining technology in the product life cycle
  • Shortening process chains in forming complex customized components.


A great deal of information, knowledge and coordination is required for meeting individual customer demands. This applies to relations with customers as well as to corporate processes and relations with suppliers. In order to make customized production cost-effective, future production systems must have much greater potential in the following fields:

  • Adaptability of production equipment to changed production tasks; minimum non-productive and change-over time
  • Modular design and reconfigurability of systems for very small batch sizes and quickly changing product characteristics (flexibility in terms of processes and quantities)
  • High functional integration of various technologies combined with flexible machine structures to shorten process chains
  • Flexible use of available system components including peripheral equipment (process chaining, handling, assembly)
  • New forms of cooperation with customers; involvement of customers as value adding partners and joint product development
  • Transparency of the entire value added chain and of the product life cycle for customers and manufacturers.


  • New machine tools
    In the area "New machine tools", 12 collaborative projects produced extensive results with regard to the above-mentioned objectives in the period 2003 to 2007. Several projects focused on the reduction of life cycle costs. Consistent modular design, standardized interfaces and other measures have resulted in the large-scale reconfigurability of machine tools, which helps reduce the tools' life cycle costs by more than 20% in individual cases. Furthermore, today's machine tools can adapt to changing requirements more easily. Throughput time can be shortened from ten to two days for a suitable range of components when machine tools combine different processing techniques. Productivity could in particular be increased in precision and micro processing by designing a more dynamic tool while improving processing accuracy. Advances in simulation technology improved the synchronization of components, which helps shorten development times and enables more flexible production facilities to be designed at lower cost.
  • Assembly expertise: acting globally, assembling in Germany
    The results will be presented at the joint concluding event in Munich in December 2008.
  • Joining technology in the product life cycle
    In the area "Joining technology in the product life cycle", 12 collaborative projects aim to produce specific results by mid 2009 in order to extend our knowledge of the processes involved in mechanical, reshaping and thermal joining as well as in bonding:

    In addition to developing processes and filler material for safe and long-lasting joined assemblies, the focus is on easy disjoining and rejoining of mating parts, for example for repair purposes. Innovative system concepts and components are needed in this context. New in-process measuring tools must be developed that can be used to monitor and control joining processes. The properties of joined assemblies can be predicted more reliably if improved methods are available for the simulation of joining processes. Cost-effective industrial application depends on the recording, assessment and optimization of process-related costs.

    A number of papers presented at the major welding conference of the German Association for Welding and Related Methods (DVS) in Dresden in September 2008 dealt with the most important objectives and projected results in the area of "BMBF research funding – Joining technology in the product life cycle".


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© 08/29/2015 01:00 Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung