TC 5.1. Manufacturing Plant Control

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The Technical Committee TC 5.1. adopts a high-level perspective of manufacturing plant control, addressing a broad scope of activities required for the management of manufacturing operations in industrial facilities. These range from product design, to manufacturing engineering, management and control, including equipment maintenance, as well as related industrial services, monitoring and control of product and process quality, and factory logistics. Manufacturing engineering focuses also on the benefits and capabilities of advanced manufacturing technologies in fabrication, assembly, disassembly, and remanufacturing. The opportunities of advanced automation and digitalization are especially considered, dealing with the increasingly connected operations and the collaborations across different business functions. The transformative impact of new technologies integration, and especially the interaction and synergies between humans and technologies within the manufacturing plant and its work environment, are of high relevance.

The TC looks at the management of the operations in a manufacturing facility with the end purpose of addressing challenges applicable to most industries, aiming to realize the vision of the factories of the future for a sustainable, circular, resilient, and human-centric manufacturing in a global setting. Innovation in manufacturing plant control involves building smart, advanced, and robust manufacturing processes and systems, considering also a symbiotic relationship between humans and technologies as part of socio-technical industrial facilities and workplaces. To this end, building upon the convergence of automation, digitalization, and manufacturing technologies, the TC deals with the required theories, modelling, methodologies, tools and applications related to the development,  implementation, operation, and maintenance of smart manufacturing systems and factories as a whole.

The TC has originally addressed automation scientific challenges and issues raised by the Intelligent Manufacturing System (IMS) paradigm in order to apply methodologies and technologies to innovate the management and control of manufacturing activities, addressing needs originating from the shop floor. This has led to consider the application of mechatronics and Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Multi-Agent Systems (MAS), Holonic Manufacturing Systems (HMS) and e-technologies at large. While building on past achievements, TC 5.1. continues to push forward evolving and new manufacturing paradigms as it is currently required by the ongoing transition leading towards the factories of the future. This transition is enabled by the integration of technological developments in the areas of Industrial Internet of Things, Virtual Manufacturing, Industrial Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR), across the edge to cloud continuum, thereby enriching the integral support of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Advanced Planning Systems (APS), Design For Manufacturing (DFM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Virtual manufacturing and Digital Twins (DT) as part of the Cyber-Physical Socio-Technical Production Systems. This leads to advanced capabilities to monitor, predict, and optimize the operations in manufacturing processes and systems.

In this scope, the TC aims at the creation of advanced practices to reap the benefits of advanced automation, digitalization, and manufacturing, by on one hand leaning on a closer integration of design and process planning of the manufactured products with the manufacturing stage, while on the other hand exploiting the potential of maintenance services to support the manufacturing assets across their lifecycle. Moreover, the TC considers the technological characteristics in a broad sense, and particularly as a blend of competences, skills, and functionalities resulting from the adoption of key enabling technologies for smart manufacturing. Additionally, it builds on and expands the view of augmentation of human knowledge, skills, and abilities by trustworthy and intelligent solutions, to achieve the empowerment of both humans and systems with expanded decision making capabilities and action affordances, thereby enabling manufacturing systems, workplaces, factories, and human resources to achieve both flexibility and performance enhancements.

Overall, in the context of the industrial transition, the TC 5.1. frames the scientific challenges at different levels of interest for an industrial facility, including the factory and plant level, as well as the system and workplace level. It specifically aims at raising the scientific debate on the way the technological and control characteristics are exploited to enhance the capabilities of manufacturing systems in terms of their agility, dependability, sustainability, circularity, human-centricity and resilience. Considering the importance of validation of theories and practices in real industrial settings, the TC also perceives the need of manufacturing industries to fully exploit such capabilities to be responsive to the unpredictable and frequent changes of market requirements, the rising importance of environmental and societal impacts of manufacturing operations, and the opportunities created by the technological evolution.

Marco Macchi, Chair

TC 5.1 Manufacturing Plant Control
Politecnico di Milano, School of Management (IT)