A European initiative for industrial automation

 

European leadership and excellence in manufacturing are being significantly threatened by the huge economic crisis that hit the Western countries over the last years. More sustainable and efficient production systems, able to keep pace with the market evolution, are fundamental in the recovery plan aimed at innovating the European competitive landscape. An essential ingredient for a winning innovation path is a more aware and widespread use of ICT in manufacturing-related processes.

The rapid advances in ubiquitous computational power, coupled with the opportunities of de-localizing into the Cloud parts of an ICT framework, have the potential to give rise to a new generation of service-based industrial automation systems, whose local intelligence (for real-time management and orchestration of manufacturing tasks) can be dynamically linked to runtime functionalities residing in-Cloud (an ecosystem where those functionalities can be developed and sold).

These 'CPS' ("Cyber-Physical Systems") based on real-time distributed intelligence, enhanced by functional extensions into the Cloud, will lead to a new information-driven automation infrastructure, where the traditional hierarchical view of a factory functional architecture is complemented by a direct access to the on-board services (non-real-time) exposed by the Cyber-Physical manufacturing system, composed in complex orchestrated behaviours.

 

 The Daedalus project

 

Financed by the European Commission, Daedalus has been conceived to enable the full exploitation of the CPS concept of virtualized intelligence, through the adoption of a completely distributed automation platform based on IEC-61499 standard, fostering the creation of a Digital Ecosystem that could go beyond the current limits of manufacturing control systems, the project proposes an ever-growing market of innovative solutions for the design, engineering, production and maintenance of plants’ automation.

Daedalus acknowledges deeply that CPS intrinsic existence defies the concept of rigid hierarchical levels, being each CPS capable of complex functions across all layers. An updated version of the pyramid representation is therefore adopted, where CPS are hierarchically orchestrated in real-time (within the shop floor) through the IEC-61499 automation language in order to achieve complex and optimized behaviours, while still being singularly and directly accessible, at runtime, by whatever elements of the Factory ICT infrastructure that wants to leverage on their internal functionalities.

This innovative approach to the way of conceiving automating intelligence within a Factory – across the boundaries of its physically separated functional areas thanks to the constant and bidirectional connection to the cyber world – will be the enabler for a revolutionary paradigm shift within the market of industrial automation. The technological platform of Daedalus will become in fact also Economic Platform of a completely new multi-sided ecosystem, where the creation of added value products and services by device producers, machine builders, systems integrators and application developers will go beyond the current limits of manufacturing control systems and propose an ever-growing market of innovative solutions for the design, engineering, production and maintenance of plants’ automation.

Daedalus initiative focuses on key topics for the competitiveness of Europe and its companies, encompassing a variety of interdisciplinary tasks with the objective of deploying a digital platform and multi-sided ecosystem for the industrial automation domain. Such a goal call for the creation of a proper consortium of partners.

 

 IEC-61499 for a multi-sided digital platform