Factory-ECOMATION will enable European manufacturing industries to overachieve Europe 2020 program targets developing breakthrough innovations for cost-effective, highly productive, energy-efficient and near-zero-emissions production systems; the project will therefore help European industry to meet the increasing demand for greener, more efficient and higher quality production, fostering the transition to an industry with lower waste generation, energy and raw material consumption.
Framed within this context, Factory-ECOMATION has the following main S&T objectives:
- Developing hardware and software monitoring and data evaluation platform based on unified flows vision. The first pillar necessary to establish a new paradigm for a near-zero-emissions factory is the implementation of an organic and comprehensive monitoring platform, which could provide in real-time the complete picture of what is happening inside the production environment, taking into account all its characterizing elements, from both the productivity and the environmental impact point of view. Within the scope of innovation of Factory-ECOMATION, this objective will be reached through the development of three elements, two technological and one methodological:
- A suitable hardware infrastructure to support all the sensing elements that need to be installed within the production environment;
- A software middleware required for the coordinated use of the sensor network, and for the low-level filtering and data fusion of the information flows produced by the sensors;
- an adequate data evaluation system, based on the introduction of innovative KPIs who could capture, for the sensed data, high-level information about the environmental performances of the factory (together with those about productivity, which already exist).
- Developing specific emissions abatement technologies for the two industrial pilots, covering both external and internal emissions. The achievement of real-world near-zero-emissions performances in Factory-ECOMATION envisioned factory is subordinated to the development and introduction inside the production environment of emissions abatement technologies, which, for obvious constraints, must be specifically conceived to face the emissions and wastes generation challenges characteristic of the industrial domains chosen for the demonstration phase of Factory-ECOMATION. Within this context, the solutions developed by Factory-ECOMATION will consider three fundamental aspects: the abatement of external emissions, the abatement of internal emissions, and the total integration with the sensor network platform.
- Developing specific energy recovery technologies for the two industrial pilots. In a complementary way to the emissions abatement, Factory-ECOMATION will focus its development activities on the design of innovative energy recovery equipment, which will act as the technological intervention on the factory to increase its energy efficiency (the methodological one will be based on the management and control strategies of the production processes). In Factory-ECOMATION the total integration of the energy recovery equipment into the global scope of the production environment will be sought: within the factory, energy is required in different shapes depending on the final use, this means that the equipment installed to recover part of the energy wasted, must then be able to make it available throughout the factory efficiently and depending on the real-time request. The control of these flows will be left to Factory-ECOMATION management platform, but the hardware itself will be designed taking into account these constraints and consequently proposing adequate solutions.
- Developing a holistic eco-oriented management Decision Support System. Complementary to the technological interventions at the energy recovery and emissions abatement level, Factory-ECOMATION will propose an extensive restructuring of the management decision support systems, in order to include the new eco-oriented performances criteria and consequently take into account and completely adopt the Unified Flows approach introduced by the project. At this level the main objective will be to provide to the company decision makers an ensemble of tools that could guide the optimization interventions on the factory, be they related to productivity targets, or to the reduction of its environmental impact.
- Developing optimization strategy to support the overall automation platform in reducing generalized factory impact. The last, but not for importance, objective and point of intervention of Factory-ECOMATION, conceived to achieve the near-zero-emissions results, is the upgrade of the entire automation platform of the factory, in order to be able to manage, under the eco-optimized paradigms, both the pre-existing elements of the production lines and the new ones introduced for the sensor network, the energy recovery systems, and emissions abatement equipment. The main challenge that Factory-ECOMATION will have to face within this scope is the design of a hierarchical multi-level automation and control framework in which energy efficiency and emissions reduction will not be considered just as an additional criterion to optimize, but shall influence the whole spectrum of factory automation systems, from the definition of the tasks up to the choice and execution of the control algorithms.