Which solutions do you consider especially groundbreaking for Industry 4.0?
Hopmann: To be successful, Plastics Industry 4.0 always requires a holistic approach and implementation, which makes it difficult to highlight individual projects or solutions. That being said, my personal favorite is automated process management by applying transfer learning. We managed to use AI to successfully accelerate the implementation of new processes. Bearing in mind that the machine operator also brings all his/her knowledge AND all his/her experience to the process setup, we are developing a methodology that automatically incorporates historical process setup data in the implementation of new processes. It is not surprising that this allows us to identify robust baseline process parameters even better and faster.
Methods like these, which combine current observations with simulations and know-how provide access to the full extent of knowledge and experience. It is a great pleasure for scientists like us, who have so far solely depended on knowledge and largely tuned out experience, to uncover this hidden treasure. This is a methodical revolution with invaluable potential, especially as it pertains to versatile solutions for small batch production.