Management shell for the wire harness
The objective of the VWS4LS project is to implement the management shell for development, production and assembly of the wire harness in automobiles.
The objective of the ‘Management shell for the wire harness’ (VWS4LS) project is to implement the management shell for development, production and assembly of the wire harness in automobiles. The management shell is a standardised digital twin. It clearly represents any object. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding this project as part of economic stimulus package 35c.
Challenge: Digital continuity of the value chain for the wire harness
Nothing less than the transformation of the automotive and vehicle industry is at stake. A specific application case for transformation is the wire harness, commonly known as the cable harness. In a sense, it is the nervous system of the vehicle. It connects everything and transmits all signals. In automotive development and production, the wire harness is one of the most complex and expensive individual components of the vehicle. Currently, a lot of manual work is still involved in the wire harness. It is also manufactured in a wide variety of places, including in Europe, but also all over the world. This makes disruptions in the supply chain particularly devastating.
In order to make wire harness production sustainable, as many process steps as possible must be automated and digitalised. Everything is closely intertwined: automation is only possible if the description is digitally continuous – and that means along the entire value chain across all manufacturers. Reliable communication mechanisms are needed that benefit all stakeholders. Ultimately, development, production and assembly should become simpler and more efficient while maintaining product-side flexibility. Primary goal: to be able to produce without human intervention.
A significant basis for this is that all machines and processes involved in the value creation process are mapped as interoperable digital twins. The management shell provides the technological prerequisite for this objective. It ensures that the respective asset, which can be cables, plugs, the wire harness, a machine or a contract, can run through essential process steps automatically as a so-called ‘Industry 4.0 component’. The Industry 4.0 component always consists of the management shell and an asset. You can think of it as a data cloud around the asset. However, the data is not randomly distributed in the cloud. Instead, there is a structure according to which the data can be stored. The data cloud and asset are conceptually linked. The management shell is not only a static digital representation. It also contains functions that can be used to control, combine, collaborate and implement.
Emergence of the project as a sub-project of IIWH
Projekt ‘Management shell for the wire harness’ (‘Verwaltungsschale für den Leitungssatz’, hereinafter: VWS4LS) emerged from the Innovation Initiative Wire Harness (IIWH). VWS4LS is a joint project that is funded as a regional innovation cluster (35c) as part of the German government’s economic stimulus package 35c ‘Future Investments for Vehicle Manufacturers and Supplier Industry’. A key element of the project is the funded collaboration of the various industry partners listed below. The project started in December 2021 and runs until the end of 2024.
Project structure and sub-projects
In order to structure the digitalisation for all processes, the project is divided into several sub-projects. According to the motto: if you want to snack on an elephant, cut it into thin slices.
Sub-project 1 is the base project that links sub-projects 2–4. These three pillars ultimately reflect the reality of the sector: Starting with development (sub-project 2), to production (sub-project 3) and assembly (sub-project 4). Four additional sub-projects (sub-projects 5–8) are defined as technical cross-sectional projects, just like sub-project 1. Sub-projects 9 and 10 deal with the transfer of knowledge from the project. This includes piloting and a demonstration, which was exhibited as a physical demonstration at this year’s Hanover Fair. Also included are the set-up and preparation for practical application, especially with the Transfer Network Industry 4.0.
Close collaboration with the Industry 4.0 platform, the IDTA and other management shell stakeholders
VWS4LS strives for close collaboration with the leading institutions and experts in the field of management shells. They primarily include the following stakeholders:
- Industry 4.0 platform
- ZVEI and VDMA
- OPC Foundation
- VDA and DIN
Furthermore, it is important that the VDW4LS exchanges information on a professional level with the following projects: