What is behind the words of Smart Factory and why is it lately so important and one of the top priority within the European policy? Only, on a global level, competitive European manufacturing industry can bring us to a stable European economy. There are currently several R&D projects supported by the EU 7th Framework programme, showing a big success in the research in order to support the development and innovation of the new enabling technologies for the EU manufacturing sector.

Published 30 September 2013
Updated 26 February 2015

How to summarize it in a few words? Today’s major challenges for manufacturing companies in the aerospace and automotive industries are clear: global cooperation with multiple supply chain partners, production optimisation, management and tracking of information, so as to meet new requirements in terms of traceability, security and sustainability. The Smart, and mostly digital, factory concept focuses on an integrated planning and monitoring process that includes product design, process planning, and overall integration and implementation of the manufacturing operation, making the manufacturing process more efficient and responsive to change. To enable this, the universal manufacturing information systems, based on data exchange standards that can share data seamlessly in a common format, is a need or so to say almost a must in the modern manufacturing. Considerable developments will need to take place to assure the interoperability of technologies and agreement on common standards, as this will be a key to provide integrated solutions to industrial advancement and productivity improvements.  This work is in line with the objectives of the Factories of the Future Funding and Policy Programme ( Public Private Partnership Factories of the Future), and beyond the vision of what a factory should look like in the upcoming years,  the programme must encourage industry to aim at meeting the highest standards both on a sustainability and productivity level. This is a must and essential in order to keep the EU manufacturing industry sector competitive on a global level.

The four-year project titled FoFdation aims at addressing the above challenges, focusing on the main three areas: global cooperation in a supply chain, addressing the high pressure for productivity, including the economic constrains and environmental constrains, and last but not least bringing the data exchange from the "shop floor"(part of a factory housing the machines) level to the management level. Everything, so the exact and right decision could be made. The project envisions a “Digital and Smart Factory” architecture and implementation and will extend existing information processing systems by enriching information about product data, machine tools, tools and processes and process monitoring information fed back to the overall manufacturing information systems. In a few words it means creating more intelligent control system and machines, in order to better serve the customers working on a production level, so they will be able to proceed with their job in a simple and more integrated way.

This has the potential to achieve significant benefits in earlier visibility of manufacturing issues, faster production ramp-up time and faster time to volume production. Subsequently it will mean shorter time to market, reduced manufacturing costs and improved product quality, as well as sustainability objectives like low energy consumption and waste reduction. That brings us to the point, that in the end a Smart Factory means much more than applying novel ICT research to production systems. It means a significant impact for the whole European economy, growth and jobs, safety and sustainability with environment taken into consideration.

If you are interested to read more about the project, check the website: http://www.fofdation-project.eu

And here you can watch a Video: http://www.fofdation-project.eu/media-videos.asp#.UjwgQ3f1GG4