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DEPlaTa-A Digitally Enhanced Planning Table for Rough Factory Layouts

Nico Herbig
Mastersthesis, Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz, 2015.


The layout of a factory is essential to cost- and time-efficient production in today’s competitive manufacturing environment. This thesis provides assistance for the rough factory layout planning process, which is the initial design phase of factory work floors. While currently used pure analog approaches are easy to handle and support collaborative work, they miss the advantages of digital planning, namely being able to archive different design alternatives or to run simulations on created layouts. Since pure digital solutions are often complex to use and non-collaborative, planning experts in an initial requirements analysis stated that a system combining the advantages of analog and digital planning tools would be beneficial for rough factory layout design. We analyzed related planning approaches that try to combine the two worlds, however, none supported agile planning where new objects need to be created on the fly. Furthermore, they did not assist users in rebuilding real world physical models, thereby making it difficult to refine existing layouts. Motivated by these shortcomings, we present a tangible system allowing users to plan analogously with fast producible, arbitrarily shaped objects and colored adhesive tape in order to define rough factory layouts. The advantages of digital planning are taken by automatically creating a synchronized digital model of the physical 3D representation on a large planning table. The digital model can be exported in a standard format for archiving, running simulations or further planning. When importing an old state, the digital model is reloaded immediately and projections on the table help users rebuild the physical state. An evaluation at a large German manufacturing company showed that the automatic digitization was appreciated by the planning experts. The system saves the time needed for manual digitization and allows to easily test multiple design alternatives which facilitates creativity according to the participants.


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