June, 2021

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Joachim Metternich has been the head of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools at Darmstadt University of Technology (PTW) since 2012. After completing his doctorate at PTW, he worked in various management positions in the manufacturing industry in the field of production management. Most recently, he was head of the global production system at Knorr-Bremse AG in Munich. In addition to his current role as head of the institute, Prof. Metternich is the spokesman for the Center of Excellence for Medium-Sized Businesses (Mittelstand 4.0 Kompetenzzentrum) in Darmstadt and president of the International Association of Learning Factories.

Could you describe the role of WP5 in InterQ concept?

The role of InterQ WP5 ZeroDefect is the utilization of the data concerning the manufacturing process and product, generated in WP2-3, and pre-processed in WP4 with the ultimate goal of Zero-Defect-Manufacturing. This goal will be approached by developing a software framework for Virtual Quality Management which consists of multiple interconnected components. The InterQ Quality Hallmark Dashboard module will monitor and track quality-related KPIs of the entire production line and act as the Human-Machine-Interface between the Machine Learning components used for quality prediction, optimization, and machine condition monitoring. Internally, the framework utilizes a digital twin of the production line to optimize process parameters of single machines as well as holistically. Further, the digital twin is used to speed up process capability assessment in case of production line reconfiguration.


Which are the main challenges faced by WP5?

One of the major challenges for Zero-Defect-Manufacturing is the analysis of massive raw datasets. In InterQ, this issue is addressed by WP4, thus, InterQ ZeroDefect will benefit from data that already exhibit a high level of quality.

Furthermore, the quality-related KPI predictions by the ML-algorithms need to be communicated to the machine operators in an understandable and interpretable way, considering the competency level that exists on the shop floor. In a similar context, the long-term robustness and maintenance needs of ML-algorithms used for tasks such as quality prediction in flexible and dynamic manufacturing facilities is still an open research issue. The adaptability of trained ML-algorithms to a given situation in case of e.g., line reconfiguration needs to be automatically evaluated and communicated. Lastly, the travel restrictions due to COVID-19, increase the difficulty of implementing and evaluating the framework at the facilities of the industrial partners.

Which will be the outcomes of this WP?

The software framework for Virtual Quality Management will be available to the consortium members and physically demonstrated at the industry partners as well as in the facilities of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools at the TU Darmstadt, Germany. Specifically, the production line of the Renault engine block will be used to demonstrate the InterQ improvements with the main objective of AI-based quality prediction and ramp-up time reduction in case of reconfiguration. The scientific findings of the WP will be published in relevant journals and conference proceedings. Further, the process learning factory CiP will be used to transfer the knowledge to industry representatives and students.


How do you expect that InterQ will change current manufacturing processes?

The results of the InterQ project will provide new technologies and guidance to the manufacturing industry as a whole. The demonstrations of the newly developed technologies will act as a motivation for industry players to utilize machine learning-powered components in their facilities by showcasing the achievable benefits.

InterQ is supported by the European Union. Have you participated in more projects funded by the EU? How do you evaluate them?

In addition to the Horizon2020 Project InterQ, PTW is one of the founding members of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up to empower innovators to turn their best ideas into products, services and jobs for Europe. It was created in 2008 to drive Europe’s ability to innovate, as an integral part of Horizon2020. Participating in EIT projects provides us with a great chance to bring companies and research together.