From the Internet of Things to intelligent Business Processes

In many areas, the electronic integration of intelligent objects and the Internet has reached a high degree of maturity thanks to RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) technology or the OPC standard for non-proprietary communication in automation technology. One of the goals is to tie each individual product into the product logistics and to use the delivery and sale of a product to generate automated actions for complex enterprise resource planning systems and other business processes. The full potential of the Internet of Things can only be exploited, however, if there is a stronger focus on the processing of dynamic information and on the real-time automatic detection and processing of business-relevant events.

This can be illustrated very well in the application domain of “Logistics”, in particular. In logistics, globally operating service providers must, in the future, be able to integrate the status of their product flows into their services in order to be able to react to critical events along the supply chain proactively and thus effectively. Depending on where events happen, the consequences not only affect the intra- or extra-logistical processes, but also, in particular, their interfaces. The challenge consists in coordinating the internal and external transportation networks with the help of real-time information from the Internet of Things.

The goal of the Alliance Digital Product Flow (ADiWa) is to explore technologies for business applications that integrate the real world into complex and dynamic business processes via the Internet of Things. ADiWa focuses especially on the dynamic composition, control, optimization, and modification of business processes based on the evaluated information from the real world. To achieve this, a comprehensive set of corresponding tools and mechanisms for the design and for the runtime of business processes is adapted, respectively newly created, taking into account complex events. The ensuing results are visualized in a demonstrator that maps the defined scenarios as marketable services into intelligent business processes and that can react to external influences and complex events.

In the context of ADiWa, Fraunhofer IESE is responsible for the analysis of the requirements and the definition of logistics scenarios as well as for their design and prototype implementation. This includes, among other things, the definition of an SOA (Service Oriented Architecture)- based architecture style focusing on the integration of information systems and embedded systems as well as the design of a process for the architecture-centric integration of existing systems in accordance with the SOA paradigm in order to guarantee that quality requirements are fulfilled. This also includes the integration of mobile end devices into the logistical processes and the development of a corresponding user interface. In addition, Fraunhofer IESE is responsible for the empirical evaluation of the scientific and technological results and their exploitation in the demonstrators. This makes it possible to assess the practical benefit and make improvements, if necessary.

After the completion of the project, the goal is to have a fully functional demonstrator in the logistics domain that has been evaluated. Initial joint intermediary results of the Fraunhofer institutes IESE, IML, ITWM, and SIT will be presented at the “transport logistic” fair in Munich.

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