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TC 5.1. Manufacturing Plant Control

Welcome Message from the Chair

 TC 5.1 deals with all the applications of automation, information and communication technologies
in order to control the manufacturing plant within the e-enterprise. While building on and continuing
to support our successful activities in the past, TC5.1 is targeting a longstanding issue in manufacturing
plant control:

  The benchmarking and performance evaluation of manufacturing execution systems

Manufacturing execution systems (plant control systems) require significant efforts and investments to develop.
From discussions with industrial experts we can state that a manufacturing execution system approximately
requires the 10-fold in investment and effort when compared to what is needed for a best-in-class scheduling
and planning system. This is an order of magnitude. In the research domain, this difference translates in the
inability to build, test, evaluate, assess and validate manufacturing plant control systems and, in particular,
the execution systems therein. Within a typical R&D project, both time and resources are lacking to perform
the experiments that are needed. The best research results in the world still are limited to 'toy cases' and
'proof of concept demonstrations'. The research community needs a (software) platform that enables a
thorough analysis, characterization and assessment of their developments. In addition, the community
needs to be able to compare results, not in the sense of a ranking but in the sense of understanding the
differences, similarities as well as the related pluses and minuses. TC5.1 has started the development of
such a software platform for the benchmarking of manufacturing plant control systems and especially
execution systems.

A LinkedIn Group has been initiated for researchers and practitioners.

Please join the group at   entitled:

  IFAC TC5.1 Manufacturing Plant Control - Benchmarking Platform


This group targets four audiences:

  • Software platform developers: ALFA group
     Aimed at participants wanting to understand and co-develop the platform's technology
  • Software platform assessors: BETA group

    Aimed at participants willing to understand the platform technology and ensure its quality

  • Software platform users: MODEL group

    For persons that want to create and execute benchmarks,

    for which they develop/enhance the necessary models of

    their manufacturing plants, control systems and scenarios.

  • Benchmark designers: DESIGN group

    For the discussion of how execution systems can be assessed.


Benchmarking execution systems is a largely unaddressed matter in research.
The following is a (non-exhaustive) list of key elements and challenges:

  • Test Scenarios

While performance indicators, which can be readily computed from an activity log,
are discussed and often well-known, the matter of robustness remains an open issue.
TC5.1 needs a mechanism and a repository that provide testing scenarios as well as
performance indicators connected to the sensitivity for the scenario variability.
The benchmarking needs to address robustness related questions.
E.g. how do disturbances affect throughput? E.g. at what cost does a system achieve robustness?

  • Interaction

Recent research disclosed that closed-formula objectives and system specifications are lacking expressiveness.
Likewise, single Turing Machine models of computation cannot cope with industrial reality.
Interaction (machines) are infinitely superior in their expressive power.
How do we capture this in our benchmarks?
How do we assess execution systems beyond scheduling/planning?

  • Information availability

In industrial practice, information often is unavailable, incorrect, changing ...
This includes objectives and performance criteria that change because the
situation has changed. How do wee benchmark this?


For more information on the TC5.1 platform please contact:
  • Paul.Valckenaers _at_


Paul Valckenaers
Research Fellow of the University of Leuven (B)       (KU Leuven)
Professor at the University of Limburg (B)                (KHLim)