Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We firmly believe in sustainability to combat climate change and preserve our planet’s natural resources. To maximize Europe’s efforts for sustainability, they should not be limited to traveling and transport, agriculture, energy, and consumer products. Improvements can be achieved in every sector, including manufacturing. Among others, reusing assembly lines, respectively their components, offers a leverage to be utilized. Therefore, the ALICIA consortium would like to thank the European Commission and the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HADEA) for their support in taking the next step toward a circular economy in the manufacturing sector. However, the circular economy is not limited to sustainability benefits. Moreover, it can support European businesses in times of more uncertain supply chains and increasing resource prices.

Our goal with the ALICIA project is to engineer and demonstrate a Circular Manufacturing Ecosystem (CME) for Production Lines enabled by a range of innovative digital tools. These tools aim to simplify the process of identifying and selecting appropriate second-hand assembly equipment for new production lines and enable this second-hand equipment to be integrated into state-of-the-art assembly systems. By demonstrating the developed CME, the feasibility of reusing assembly equipment on scale should not only be shown but also its economic benefits.

When engaging with ALICIA, users can expect support throughout their journey

  • from defining the processes to search assembly equipment for new assembly lines,
  • identifying and evaluating feasible assembly equipment,
  • to integrate second-hand equipment into your state-of-the-art assembly system,
  • optimizing the second-hand equipment during production, and
  • thereby, reducing delivery times and reducing procurement costs.

Thereby, ALICIA shall either support users when reusing their own legacy equipment or purchasing equipment from third parties.

If users prefer to sell their legacy assembly resources via the ALICIA marketplace, they receive support in describing their equipment to reach as many customers as possible.

ALICIA supports the user with the following digital tools:

  • A Capturing Framework supports the user to define the processes to be automated using second-hand equipment or the second-hand equipment to be sold.
  • An AI Matchmaking Engine selects possible second-hand equipment to automate the defined process based on the provided Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  • A Digital Shadow then supports the purchasing decision by simulating the options.
  • Integrating second-hand equipment into modern assembly lines is enabled via ALICIA’s Plug and Produce Middleware Connectors and Asset Administration Shells.
  • During production, optimizing processes is supported by a Digital Twin analyzing the collected real-time data. Thus, a high-quality product is ensured.

To protect user data, ALICIA builds on two central pillars:

  1. International Data Space (IDS) Connectors for a secure data exchange. Therefore, all our data transfer is protected via state-of-the-art IDS connectors.
  2. On-premise solutions allow users to fully control their data usage. We are aware that product and production process data is especially sensitive. Hence, we design our solutions so that they can be installed and operated on a local instance. On local instances, these third-party services’ available will be service provider dependent.

ALICIA’s foundation rests upon a multifaceted approach. Firstly, it benefits from the collective expertise of its partners across various domains, ensuring a comprehensive and informed strategy. Operationally, ALICIA harnesses cutting-edge technologies such as state-of-the-art assembly process and equipment modeling, domain-specific assembly planning AI, and virtual commissioning tools. These tools support ALICIA’s customers to streamline equipment selection, trade, and reuse. Additionally, to facilitate smooth ramp-up and production, ALICIA develops innovative Industry 4.0 tools like plug-and-produce middleware and Asset Administrative Shells (AASs) alongside intelligent digital twins. The platform’s infrastructure, whether cloud-based or on-premise, adheres to the principles of Market4.0, ensuring scalability and adaptability. Moreover, ALICIA strongly emphasizes sustainability and lifecycle assessment (LCA), fostering close collaboration with standardization committees throughout the project to ensure alignment with industry standards and best practices.

In addition to its foundation, ALICIA acknowledges the complexity and diversity inherent in purchasing new assembly equipment. To gain a deeper understanding of this, our use case partners, Comau and Continental, offer invaluable insights into their daily processes. Here, the assistant tools solve the challenge of equipment data availability. Therefore, we are fortunate to glean insights from our partner, Surplex, who has extensive experience trading second-hand equipment. Their expertise enables us to anticipate the types of data that ALICIA’s tools can utilize effectively. Furthermore, Surplex aids in comprehending the intricacies of equipment trading processes. While ALICIA’s current toolset may not cover every aspect of these processes, we have designed our platform to be extendable by third-party services. This ensures that the entire process will be fully supported in the future.

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