Decentralised architectures for optimised operations via virtualised processes and manufacturing ecosystem collaboration

Industry 4.0 is the next developmental stage in the organisation of the manufacturing value chain. ICT-based systems will play a major role, mainly by creating a virtual copy of the physical world and facilitating decentralised structures through Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). DISRUPT aimed to spearhead the transition to the next-generation manufacturing by facilitating the vision of a “Smart Factory”. The new era of manufacturing requires flexible factories that can be quickly reprogrammed to provide faster time-to-market responding to global consumer demand, address mass-customisation needs and bring life to innovative products.

The traditional automation pyramid seems unable to accommodate this transformation. Through DISRUPT this pyramid was disrupted by utilising the ICT capabilities to facilitate in-depth (self-)monitoring of machines and processes, provide decision support and decentralised (self-)adjustment of production, and foster the effective collaboration of the different IoT-connected machines with tools, services and actors. By doing so, the DISRUPT project allowed seamless communication of information and decisions from and to the plant floor and facilitate efficient interaction with value chain partners.

From a technological perspective, DISRUPT envisioned each element of production to be controlled via the IoT by its virtual counterpart. The collected data were analysed to detect complex events that trigger automated actions. By combining modelling, simulation and optimization, DISRUPTĀ  enhanced decision support over a secure and flexible “plug and play” platform that allowed engineers from different disciplines to collaborate in developing services. This cloud-based platform eventually accommodated the anticipated high data volume and computational needs, while offering accessibility via any device anywhere in the world.

The DISRUPT consortium included nine organisations and brought collectively exhaustive skills and expertise among the consortium partners regarding Research, Technology and Industrial partners. The consortium was coordinated by a leader in automobile manufacturing and related research (CRF), and further consists of a global actor in consumer durables and electronics (ARCELIK), a leading European system software manufacturer (SOFTWARE AG) that brings its IoT and analytics expertise and winning platforms, a technology provider with experience in enterprise platforms, cloud computing and web integration (ATC), a business process and knowledge management provider (BOC), and an expert and innovator in simulation modelling and development (SIMPLAN). Furthermore, the consortium was complemented by three strong research teams: a university focusing on architectures, software engineering and cloud computing (University of Manchester), an institute with a strong research profile in manufacturing, CPS/control, analytics and process modelling (CNR) and an institute with expertise in optimisation, simulation and supply chain management (AUEB).

Within this consortium, ATC was responsible for the development and integration of the cloud-based platform.

DISRUPT is an EU-funded project under the H2020-FOF-11-2016 topic on digital automation (Grant Agreement 723541) that started in September 2016 and lasted for 36 months.

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