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For the Institute for Integrated Production Hannover (IPH), manual planning of factory layouts is not only tedious but also inefficient: the optimal arrangement of machines as well as office and storage rooms, taking into account the floor plans on site, can take several weeks, even with the consultation of an expert. Corresponding computer programs also usually only allow planning that shortens transport routes and speeds up logistical processes. However, in doing so, many additional, relevant factors are overlooked. "This can lead to the meeting room being within earshot of a noisy milling machine," says Paul Aurich, project manager at IPH.

The research project "MeFaP" is intended to help create suitable factory layouts fully automatically via software and considering many different factors. According to the institute, the program will be completed by the end of 2019 and should not only significantly speed up the planning process, but also reliably ensure improved results: Planners initially create an inventory of machines, rooms and storage areas, as detailed as possible. In the next step, it is determined which particular requirements apply to the layout – from the optimization of the routes to a low energy requirement to the criterion of the versatility of the production areas. The software then proposes several possible interior design plans and uses a weighting function for assessment.

Production simulations for different processes within a production plant have been the norm for some time. However, a completely automated factory planning, with the exception of a few finishes, represents a novelty.