Collaborative Research Centre SFB 805

Collaborative Research Centre SFB 805 – Control of Uncertainty in Load-Carrying Structures in Mechanical Engineering

Another four years, researchers of the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 805 will work on the control of uncertainty in mechanical systems at TU Darmstadt. In November 2012, the German Research Foundation (DFG) approved the extension starting January 2013.

Engineers and mathematicians have taken up the cause to conserve resources and avoid oversizing. Considering uncertainty in product development, production and usage shows the number of recalls which has become more and more important over the last years. In the automotive industry, for example, slightly over a million vehicles were recalled by manufacturers in 2010. This is exactly what researchers from the TU Darmstadt, working in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF in Darmstadt, like to prevent. They have already been working on the topic for four years and can record good progress.

In its former first funding period, the methodically based SFB 805 “Control of uncertainty in load-carrying structures in Mechanical Engineering” has designed an uncertainty model and a process model. This makes it possible to describe uncertainty, determine its causes and control it. According to the working hypothesis of the SFB, uncertainty occurs in processes and can only be controlled in processes. Therefore, the main focus lies on the processes and their different system states before and after each process. In order to control uncertainty, it must first be described and evaluated. Afterwards, existing solutions are used to avoid or eliminate uncertainty or to live with uncertainty by adjusting the processes. It is especially important to make an approach that is practicable and encompasses all phases in the product’s life time. The process model developed by the SFB corresponds exactly to these characteristics and can be put together to process chains along the phases of product development, production and usage.

Apart from purely passive structures, active and adaptive systems are a focus of the SFB 805. This work will be continued in the second funding period. The SFB-team will develop a more comprehensive theory of uncertainty in processes which will be tested on real systems. It should include the existing theories of risk analysis and reliability consideration and integrate them into a comprehensive theory of uncertainty. The goal is to continue to sustain product quality throughout the life time, limit failures and minimize safety factors.

A total of ten institutes of the TU Darmstadt – seven of them belong to mechanical engineering and three to mathematics – and the Fraunhofer LBF are part of the SFB 805. Chair of the SFB 805 is Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Pelz, Head of Fluid Systems at TU Darmstadt.