ProjectBio-inspired Factory Layouts for optimal Materialflow

Basic data

Bio-inspired Factory Layouts for optimal Materialflow
01/03/2016 to 28/02/2019
Abstract / short description:
The main goal of the project is to discover new efficient approaches for factory layout- and material flow planning by using biomimetics (also known as bionics). This proposal aims to expand our preliminary investigation on novel bio-inspired approaches to assign operational resources (OR) such as machines, workstations and departments within factory layouts. This is basic rather than applied research because of lacking industrial feasibility. The fundamental proposed idea is to investigate potential beneficial nature principles within the mentioned area. This is of scientific importance, because although nature principles are investigated in various scientific disciplines, our preliminary studies show that there are only few publications within the combined topics logistics and biomimetics. The problem of factory layout planning is an Assignment Problem. The objective thereby is, that a set of n facilities has to be assigned to a set of n locations considering flow as well as the distance in order to minimize total expenditure. Living systems in nature are also confronted with logistical problems. These systems are even adapting to short and long term changes. For example, we investigated the structures and growth processes of the nautilus shell (Nautilus macromphalus) in our preliminary studies, and found out that these biological principles and structures help in enhancing the allocation of operational resources within factory layouts. Furthermore, we investigated input-output-processes in nature, especially the webs of orb-weaver spiders (Araneidae) to mimic the pattern for factory layouts. In addition, the hunting behaviour of the spider was examined and imitated. As first step in our investigations related to potential bio-inspired approaches we collected material flow data of three Austrian factories, serving as a reference. In the second step we applied traditional logistical approaches for layout planning out of the logistical theory. In a third step, we applied our nautilus shell and spider web approach. After examining and comparing different variants, we found out that our bio-inspired approaches were able to keep up with and even exceed traditional approaches: in one case the biomimetical approach beat the best traditional method by 13,6% regarding the transportation coefficient. This concerns Ideal-Layouts without practical restrictions or applicability. This project will allow for extension of this first insight by going more into detail and building a wider basis together with experts of Biology, Biomimetics, Business Administration and Engineering. We will investigate more appropriate analogies within nature, analyse them thoroughly regarding biological constitution to gain benefit on the one hand for factory layout- and material flow planning and on the other hand for similar assignment problems in other scientific disciplines.

Involved staff


Institute of Evolution and Ecology
Department of Biology, Faculty of Science

Local organizational units

Institute of Evolution and Ecology
Department of Biology
Faculty of Science

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