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Eco Process Engineering System for composition of services to optimize product life cycle

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Vision

EPES is a EU FP7 funded research project in manufacturing and sustainability engineering, aiming to produce a set of tools for improving products, services and processes along their lifecycle.

The first great challenge in the EPES project is to develop a novel eco process engineering system (EPES) in order to improve the performance of highly customized industrial products, processes and services during their life cycle, in cases in which no standard, off-the-shelf solutions can be applied. The system represents a comprehensive platform enabling dynamic composition of software services adaptable to the different products and operating conditions. It supports the Processes, Products, and Services (PPS) system, which extends the well-known Product-Service System (PSS) by also taking into account processes. The benefits brought by the dynamic, flexible, and customizable services generated with the EPES solution can be illustrated through a “before” / “after” comparison, as shown below in Figure 1 and Figure 2:

Figure 1. Situation before EPES

Figure 1 presents the situation before applying the EPES solution. The isolated “islands” of Business Process Management, Knowledge Management, Modelling and Simulation, as well as Decision Making appear in each phase of the life-cycle, without real connection between phases, possibly with redundancies and inconsistencies across phases. The improvement brought on by the EPES solution, illustrated in Figure 2, is to offer integrated and consistent services for Business Process Management, Knowledge Management, Modelling and Simulation and Decision Making. These are accessible from one access point from the point of view of the users, no matter what the involved life-cycle phase is. The flexibility and customizability of these services is greatly enhanced by the EPES solution when compared to the previous situation.

Figure 2. Situation after applying the EPES Solution

The second grand challenge for EPES consist in that the novel ICT-tools developed, supported by an application methodology, need to be combined and embedded in the decision-making processes in companies from different sectors, starting with three companies dedicated to

  1. Wind farm maintenance
  2. Cable production and
  3. Aeronautics

These business cases represent typical examples of companies in need for such highly reconfigurable services to continuously optimize their product performance and service delivery. The overall concept of the novel service- and process-oriented framework offered by EPES is displayed in Figure 3 below.

 

 

Figure 3. Overall concept of EPES

The main advantages of EPES include increased efficiency in generating and reconfiguring services for PPS by at least 20% and an increased flexibility of such services, especially in the cases where eco-constraints play a key role. This leads to a number of potential business benefits, measured by Key Performance Indicators, specific for various applications, such as reduction of costs along PPS and of the ecological impact of improved PPS. Several benefits for industry can be highlighted:

  • To effectively take into account different ecological constraints along the product/process life cycle, exploiting this knowledge to adapt design, operation and disposal strategies
  • Improving energy efficiency, environmental impact, waste, etc. during the operating life of the product
  • Enhancing the useful life span of the product
  • Improving environmental impact by disposal at the end of life: increasing re-use (re-manufacturing, overhauling, components transferring, etc) and reducing waste
  • Increasing productivity (availability), reliability, maintainability
  • Reducing overall costs in operation
  • Improving working environment: more friendly products, easier to use and maintain
  • Collecting and storing knowledge on the products by means of the virtual factory by integration of actors: producer, customer and user, maintenance service, technology providers, experts and researchers

The innovation brought by the project is a holistic, modular and extendable system that allows the easy reconfiguration of services in order to react flexibly to relevant insights and to meet varying requirements along the PPS life cycle. The EPES system includes features for collaborative work, a Virtual Factory knowledge repository, service configuration, and a simulation and decision-making platform, with the ultimate objective of facilitating the use, reuse, storage, analysis and sharing of knowledge within the Virtual Factory. EPES responds to the companies’ need for moving from static isolated systems to a more flexible and loosely coupled system applicable along the whole PPS cycle. Thus, instead of having desktop applications and “engineering islands of analysis”, EPES aims to integrate existing tools and provide them as configurable services for non-ICT experts.

Patrocinadores

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 285093