Exhibitors & Products
Events & Speakers

The world's population is growing and global resource consumption is increasing rapidly. Society and industry face the enormous challenges of making products last longer and easier to reuse, repair or recycle. Moving towards a sustainable future, manufacturing companies need to adopt a completely new approach, replacing the traditional linear 'take - make - use - dispose' by a truly circular economy. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are determined to let the circular factory become reality. The aim is to process used products as automatically as possible, so that they can leave the factory as new products.

The vision of the "circular factory for the perpetual product" - integrated linear and circular production on an industrial scale - is being realised with an agile production system and cross-generational product development. The production system uses mobile, learning robots to adapt autonomously and dynamically to changing product specifications. KIT will present two central process steps at the Hannover Messe 2024:

  • At the inspection station, used products can be inspected in order to assess whether they can be transferred to a new product life cycle, i.e. whether it is worth reprocess a product. The assessment is image- and geometry-based using criteria such as missing parts, excessive corrosion and damage.
  • The station "Learning from Human demonstration" demonstrates how knowledge about the processes involved in dismantling used products can be generated by observing people carrying out the necessary steps of the procedure. Cameras record the overall posture of the person, as well as hand movements, objects being worked on, tools being used and even eye movements. Based on this "programming by demonstration", the work processes are transferred to a robotic system to enable automated disassembly.
  • Further information

  • on the „AgiProbot“ project
  • on the SFB “Circular Factory for the Perpetual Product”
  • Sustainability

    The traditional linear economic approach of "take - make - use - dispose" is no longer a recipe for success in the long term. The "circular factory for the perpetual product" makes it possible to decouple prosperity and resource consumption. Existing product substance is reused in several product life cycles. The energy, materials and emissions generated during the production of a new product can be saved. In this way, the "circular factory for the perpetual product" makes a decisive contribution to sustainable production.

    Future outlook

    Products need to be usable for longer and easier to reuse, repair or recycle. However, manufacturing companies in particular are faced with the challenge of designing circular approaches economically in large-scale production. Today, these usually take place in small series with a high proportion of manual work steps in low-wage countries. The introduction of circular business models for sustainable production is correspondingly complex and must be designed in a targeted manner. KIT researchers are making a significant contribution to making circular economy approaches attractive for high-wage locations as well.