Factory-Ecomation is a challenging research project, whose technical objectives aims at innovating the way resources are consumed (and recovered) within a manufacturing Factory, acting both on new equipment developments and on the way those resources are controlled, chosen or managed. Framed in the context of the required evolution of the European manufacturing sectors towards a more sustainable model of production, the high-level objective of Factory-Ecomation is therefore to push the evolution of European factories towards a self-sustaining, zero environmental-footprint paradigm.
An overall setup for Factory-Ecomation was established, identifying two main areas of intervention:
- On one hand, a technological, “hardware-related” scope meant to develop and introduce new solutions into the shop-floor, increasing energy efficiency and recovery, while reducing emissions;
- On the other hand, a layer oriented to the management and control of the factory, to create and command a real-time, efficient picture of the production, thus enabling its optimization towards more sustainable performance.
Coherently with this high-level reference framework, derived as extension of its proposal concepts, four main technological pillars have been identified to support the overall structure of the project:
- A hierarchical and distributed automation platform, encapsulating advanced control algorithms, as backbone of the factory of the future;
- A monitoring and data synchronization platform to create, thanks also to the support of simulation tools, a virtual counterpart of the factory shop floor;
- A decision support platform, to help the factory management taking more conscious decisions;
- A set of eco-optimized manufacturing and auxiliary equipment, to improve sustainability of the production process.