ALICIA: Assembly Lines In CIrculAtion – smart digital tools for the sustainable, human-centric and resilient use of production resources

The project ALICIA - Assembly Lines in Circulation, funded by the European Union, aims to develop a Circular Manufacturing Ecosystem (CME) for production lines, which will be demonstrated in two industrial use cases at the partners Continental and Comau. By using second-hand production equipment, the material and energy requirements of new production lines are aimed to be reduced by 70 to 80 %, and a reuse of up to 100 % of the equipment is to be achieved. The project consortium consists of a total of 12 partner organizations from all over Europe and is led by the iwb.

Initial situation

Currently, production resources do not reach the end of their life cycle and are prematurely taken out of service, resulting in resource wastage. Reusing these resources is a promising way to reduce waste and promote the evolution of the circular economy. Additionally, the reuse can mitigate disruptions in global supply chains, such as those caused by the Covid-19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine. However, the reuse of used production equipment is hindered by several challenges. First, the lack of compatibility between generations of equipment and manufacturers is a barrier that must be overcome. Furthermore, the difficult estimation of the remaining lifetime of the used equipment and the lack of availability of a Europe-wide marketplace for used equipment impedes the reuse. The project will address these challenges to pave the way towards the CME and resource reuse.

The iwb is mainly involved in the development of the ontology as well as the capturing of the sustainability aspects in the ontology and partakes in building of the digital shadow and twin. Furthermore, the iwb supports the development of the Plug & Produce middleware and is responsible for the setup of a demonstrator in the iwb test field. Further tasks include the development of a training kit for factory workers for the secondhand line and the ecological evaluation of the overall system.

Focus topics

To enable the CME, an ontology will first be developed to capture the requirements of factory owners, considering not only technical but also social, environmental and economic aspects. The supply of second-hand and new production resources will be managed in an online marketplace. In the second step, an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm is used to match the requirements with the available resources. The assembly line proposed by the AI is modeled using a digital shadow for the purchase decision and the planning of the new line. A plug-and-produce middleware is developed for the assembly and commissioning process, enabling the integration of second-hand equipment into the line. Finally, a digital twin will be provided for the new line to speed up commissioning and manage the plant in operation. The project is accompanied by a regular ethical and ecological evaluation of the technologies used and the development of the novel Circularity-as-a-Service business model.


The ALICIA project is funded by the European Union under the Horizon Europe research and innovation funding program. We thank the EU for their generous support.

Duration 01.01.2023 to 31.12.2025
Project partners

Technische Universität Graz, mts Consulting & Engineering GmbH, Conti Temic microelectronic GmbH, ECI Mechatronics GmbH, IMT Atlantique, Yaghma B.V., Netcompany-Intrasoft, University of Patras, Laboratory for Manufacturing Systems and Automation, DIN Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V., Surplex GmbH, Comau S.p.A

Funded by Europäische Union, Horizon Europe