The work of Fraunhofer Austria, a sister institute of Fraunhofer IGD, can be broadly divided into three fields: visualization services, research, and technologies that make visualizations a real-life experience. “We want to turn content into something you can see. This entails capturing and presenting data in a way that ensures it delivers value added to the viewer,” says René Berndt, sales manager at Fraunhofer Austria. The research extends far beyond what conventional graphs and charts can achieve. Industrial machines, for example, may be equipped with a wide variety of sensors, generating data of types and quantities that cannot easily be converted into traditional graphics. For multiple but independent processes, visualizing parameters becomes even more challenging.
A number of projects in 2017 underscore the degree of complexity involved. One such project is GrAPPA, a graphical tool that supports the design of manufacturing plant and equipment. This technology is now nearly ready to go to market. GrAPPA enables the design and completion of factories with greater speed and ease, and at lower cost. “For instance, the software allows us to define a new production line within an existing floor layout,” says Berndt. It is possible to create a virtual layout of equipment within an existing production building, and to reconfigure it as many times as necessary to determine the optimal outcome. For example, designers can see immediately what impact their ideas have on the flow of components and materials from one process step to the next. Does one proposed path intersect with another? Are there obstacles in the way? And engineers can recognize weaknesses; for example, when production systems are positioned too far away from each other, requiring heavy items to be moved farther and more frequently than necessary.