vf-OS. The Building blocks for the manufacturing industry
The importance of manufacturing is well recognized worldwide, and significant transformation in the sector is underway with the digitalization of products and processes. Manufacturing is moving closer to the consumer, with mass-customization demands and lot-size one products. Industrial processes need to be reorganized to become more flexible and dynamic. Indeed, this transformation is so comprehensive that it is being called Industry 4.0. The term is frequently used to refer to the digitalization of manufacturing and the adoption of technological concepts such as cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services, all key drivers towards the accomplishment of the so-called Smart Factory.
While many organizations might still be discovering Industry 4.0, several others already realized its potential and are looking to implement changes today, preparing for a future where “smart” workstations, machines, and applications open the realm of new business opportunities. However, factories are complex systems and European SMEs’ needs around Manufacturing ICT solutions are still far from being satisfied in a simple and affordable way, leading to diverse and non-interoperable systems. “Why isn’t the model of mobile Apps for persons replicated in factories and manufacturing in general?”, they would ask. It’s a model where new functionalities for factories could come in the form of a new plug-and-play software applications available through a marketplace with high visibility; where developers could use open source software development kits to support the quick creation of Apps for industry; where drivers to connect to machines and sensors could be made available by manufacturing providers and easily embedded into these new applications. vf-OS (Virtual Factory Operating System) answers such needs offering a multi-sided manufacturing cloud platform supporting a market ecosystem that provides a wide range of services in the form of “building blocks” for the factory of the future.
The Virtual Factory Operating System (www.vf-OS.eu) is a EU H2020 project addressing the ‘Digital Automation’ objective. The target is to develop the "operating system" of the connected factory of the future and to integrate better manufacturing and logistics processes of Industry 4.0, through platforms that enable and optimise communication and collaboration among supply networks, enterprises, machines and objects. The vf-OS Open Platform exploits advanced ICT (e.g., CPS, IoT, Cloud-models, M2M, security), delivering Software developer a set of building blocks such as the Open Applications Development Kit (OAK), the storage component or the Studio, to allow manufacturing companies a fast way to develop and deploy smart applications (vApps) for manufacturing and logistics processes. These vApps are applications specially developed for solving particular industrial needs and are akin to Android mobile apps but in an industrial setting. Hence, integrating several pre-defined vf-OS services, they can quickly support a number of industry 4.0 user scenarios. In the project we are covering three different industrial activities, namely: Manufacturing & logistics automation, document management at construction sites, and manufacturing assembly collaboration.