Recently, Dr. Lai Xu, the joint coordinator Dr. Paul de Vrieze of the EU H2020 FIRST (Virtual Factories: Interoperation supporting Business Innovation) project, was featured in an interview by Horizon, the EU Research & Innovation Magazine. The interview-related article and a concise video have been published.
The FIRST project, which concluded in December 2022 after a six-year duration, was a substantial undertaking with a budget of 1.2 million Euros and involved eight international partners. It aimed to address the challenges associated with constructing a virtual factory using existing Industry 4.0 frameworks and standards. The project not only explored potential business innovations for manufacturing products, such as integrating business and manufacturing processes for customized products, but also for manufacturing services, like virtual maintenance services.
The scope of the project extended beyond enhancing manufacturing efficiency and empowering SMEs. It also focused on safeguarding the future of European manufacturing by preventing the theft of advanced technologies. The consortium driving the FIRST project is comprised of partners with robust expertise in computer science and information systems, some of whom possess mechanical engineering proficiency. Additionally, the consortium includes two software vendors from Germany and China, along with a traditional manufacturing facility.
The “vF Interoperation suppoRting buSiness innovaTion” (FIRST) project provides new technology to describe manufacturing assets and to compose and integrate existing services into collaborative virtual manufacturing processes.
The project kick-off meeting took place in March 16-17 2017 at Bournemouth University UK. In attendance were the academic and industrial representatives from the partner institutions.
The FIRST Project kick-off meeting participants at BU[/caption]
The project combines partners from China, Germany, The Netherlands and Germany in the academic and industrial sectors. Together we work on processes in manufacturing context.
- Bournemouth University, UK. Faculty of Science & Technology, Department of Computing and Informatics, Service Computing Group.
- University of Groningen, Netherlands. Faculty of Science and Engineering, Distributed Systems Group.
Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy. Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche Informatiche e Matematiche, the Smart Applications, Environments, and Communities Group.
- University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy. The Department of physics, informatics and mathematics, Department of physics, informatics and mathematics.
- Shanghai Second Polytechnic University, China. The College of EngineeringThe College of Engineering.
- GK software. Germany – world market leader in retail software
- KM Software. China – Specialist in computer aided manufacturing
The kick-off meeting initiated the projected start from March 2017. Topics discussed at the the kick-off meeting included
- Deeper knowledge of consortium partner, research agenda
- Implementation of working packages and Deliverables
- Presentations of partners
- Discussing Consortium Agreement
Please find more details about the project at
Uber, Amazon, AirBnB, Netflix… The Internet has had many impacts to the economy. Not only to the consumer market, but widely across the service sector. There is a large amount of integration and automation to enable things like instant order confirmations. Work in these aspects of business processes is quite well established in the service sector.
Manufacturing is a key part of the economy. To remain competitive or become even more so, automation that supports innovation is also essential for the manufacturing sector. BU will be leading, under direction of Drs L. Xu and P. de Vrieze, an international consortium on a project receiving €1.2 mln in funding to address these challenges.
Advanced ICT supported manufacturing is currently gaining a lot of traction with initiatives such as Industrie 4.0 in Germany, Factory of the Future in Italy and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult the UK. Part of this development is advanced coordination of manufacturing allowing for increased flexibility and reduced costs. A virtual factory ensures exchange of data between smart machines, systems, software and design within the manufacturing chain. Manufacturing processes become more simple through plug-and-play techniques.
To enable this, the “vF Interoperation suppoRting buSiness innovaTion” (FIRST) project provides new technology to describe manufacturing assets and to compose and integrate existing services into collaborative virtual manufacturing processes. The project will see collaboration between internationally recognised academics and industry in Europe and China. As such the consortium will take advantage of it various backgrounds to address the issue from a variety of perspectives.
The FIRST consortium is a competitive consortium with large know-how and expertise in complex software systems and manufacturing automation. The research base of the academic partners will be used as foundation for innovations to contribute to virtual interoperation of smart manufacturing in the area of Factory of the Future/Manufacturing 2.0 to improve the competiveness of our industrial partners and sustainability of the European manufacturing sector. Within this research programme, 6 industrial researcher will get the opportunity to gather knowledge in academia while 22 academic researchers will absorb knowledge in industry. The consortium will provide new knowledge for GK, an enterprise software vendor and KM, a manufacturing software vendor, inform newer training in the area of big data, cloud computing to both GK and KM, and promote innovation, while the academic partners will translate their research to facilitate better understanding virtual factories.