Second Funding Phase of the ZAFH Intralogistics Project

Ulm University

Supported by structural funds of the European Union (EFRE), the state of Baden-Württemberg is funding the ZAFH "Intralogistics" for another two years.  Besides the Institute for Databases and Information Systems (DBIS), Reutlingen University and the Technical University of Applied Sciences Ulm are involved in this joint project. The total funding for both project phases is 3.21 million euros, of which 711,000 euros are allocated to Prof. Reichert’s research group at DBIS (387,000 euros for the 2nd funding phase).

Digital process platform for intralogistics processes

In the ZAFH Intralogistics project, Prof. Reichert's research group is developing a digital platform for automating intralogistics processes that involve both human agents and service robots.

In the first funding phase, the basic platform for modelling, configuring and executing intralogistics processes was developed, which is capable of integrating both humans and service robots. Advanced techniques for dealing with the diversity of variants in intralogistics processes as well as for flexibly adapting processes during runtime should be emphasised. The automatic generation and use of personalised user interfaces was impressively demonstrated as well. The platform is based on the PHILharmonicFlows framework, a model-driven tool chain of Reichert’s research group that enables modelling, implementing, executing and monitoring data-driven processes. In the project, PHILharmonicFlows was adapted to the requirements of intralogistics processes, equipped with additional configuration options and significantly expanded in terms of functionality.

Addressing end user demands in the second funding phase

In the second funding phase, extensions to the digital process platform are made to better support non-IT experts in evaluating, selecting, implementing and adapting variable process and task executions. Domain experts are enabled to describe intralogistics processes as well as their objects, resources and constraints on several levels (e.g. behavior of individual logistics objects, coordination of a multitude of different objects) in an understandable way. Moreover they may flexibly combine processes, execute them in a controlled manner, and continuously monitor and and optimise them, supported by suitable software tools of the digital process platform.

For this purpose, the existing software tools shall become easier accessible with the vocabulary of intralogistics and suitable abstractions shall be created. For example, it must be possible to integrate resources, especially humans and service robots, into intralogistics processes seamlessly and with predictable benefits, taking into account their capabilities and availability, and to replace them in whole or in part as needed. Hybrid human-robot scenarios can then be implemented in a process-oriented manner.

Secretary of Education Theresia Bauer; Prof. Christian Schlegel, University of Applied Sciences Ulm; Prof. Wolfgang Echelmeyer, University of Applied Sciences Reutlingen; Prof. Norbert Bartneck, University of Applied Sciences Ulm; Prof. Manfred Reichert, Ulm University; Prof. Hendrik Brumme, President, University of Applied Sciences Reutlingen; Prof. Marianne von Schwerin, University of Applied Sciences Ulm (l. to r.) (Image: Reutlingen University)
Secretary of Education Theresia Bauer with Prof. Hendrik Brumme, President of the University of Applied Sciences Reutlingen (Image: Reutlingen University)