During the lifecycle of a product – from inception, through engineering design and manufacture, to service and recycling – a large amount of information is stored in a wide range of IT systems. As part of the EU’s amePLM project, Fraunhofer IAO has created a platform that helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to control these complex processes.
The approach companies take to product development is frequently fragmented and not very coordinated. The parties involved work with a wide range of methods and software systems. As a result, product and manufacturing information is frequently stored in data silos – which means that it has to be laboriously transferred or synchronized, making it difficult to reuse.
To improve this situation and to increase the competitiveness of manufacturing companies, Fraunhofer IAO has initiated and led the “Advanced Platform for Manufacturing Engineering and PLM” (amePLM) project. The EU sponsored this venture as part of its Factories of the Future initiative, and the amePLM project has now come to a successful conclusion.
First demonstrators now available
The key outcomes of the project are reference processes for small and medium-sized businesses together with a reference information model in the form of an ontology for product lifecycle management. In addition, the project team has developed an expandable modular software platform and several support modules to assist engineers in their work at each stage of the product lifecycle.
To facilitate the practical relevance of these outcomes, the team tested five pilot applications in companies from automotive, telecommunications engineering, medical technology and high-tech industries.
One example is a software demonstrator which provides production engineers with information about the manufacture and quality of a given production batch without any searching being required. Another demonstrator supports the writing of documents in Microsoft Word by suggesting related texts. It is already market-ready and available for download at www.juhufinder.de.
Follow-up projects integrate big data and smart data
Current projects involve working for and with companies to deploy and further develop existing outcomes such as the open platform or support modules – e.g., those that provide context-based information. In addition, follow-up projects to develop additional modules are addressing exciting research questions – in the area of big data or smart data, for instance – as they seek to provide support for engineers.
70569 Stuttgart, Germany
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Juliane Segedi | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
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