TC 5.1. Manufacturing Plant Control

Welcome to the homepage of IFAC Technical Committee on Manufacturing Plant Control


Technical committee TC5.1 deals with aspects of theories, modelling, methodologies, tools and applications related to automation, information and communication technologies applied in order to MANAGE and CONTROL the manufacturing plants and their advanced manufacturing processes and systems, fostered in the digital era within the cyber-physical manufacturing enterprises.

The TC has originally addressed the automation scientific challenges and issues raised by the Intelligent Manufacturing System (IMS) paradigm to apply methodologies and technologies required to support it in the value chains of manufactured products and manufacturing assets. The applications 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 were considered in the past. While building on the past achievements, TC5.1 is nowadays targeting a longstanding issue in manufacturing plant control by investigating new manufacturing paradigms as advocated by “Factory of the Future” or “Industry 4.0” visions; to this end, different aspects of plant operations are considered including production, logistics, quality and maintenance.

The study scope is moving towards the implementation of Industry 4.0 principles in manufacturing systems while looking at Industry 4.0-based characteristics that lead to build the future smart factories.

Future smart factories are indeed the interest in the scope of the TC, with the specific purpose to investigate the development of smart manufacturing practices built upon the concurrent advancement of technological characteristics and control characteristics within plant operations management. In this scope, the TC looks at the technological characteristics in a broad sense, as a blend of competences, skills and functionalities emerging from the adoption of key enabling technologies and smart manufacturing assets. Moreover, the TC remarks the growing importance of human-system integration achieving adaptability to a changing environment while relying on the augmentation of humans’ knowledge, skills and abilities thanks to the presence of trustworthy and intelligent products and assets. Especially, the decision support provided within the future smart factories based on the diffused use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), should be featuring a high level of trustworthiness in order to effectively take place in the manufacturing decision-making routine. Eventually, the TC builds upon the enhanced interoperability of systems to foster the creation of advanced practices aimed at extending and empowering the capability to reap the benefits of digitalization, on one hand leaning on a closer integration of design and process planning of the manufactured products with the manufacturing stage, on the other hand exploiting the potential of maintenance services to support the manufacturing assets in their lifecycle, with the subsequent effects on efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of the plant operations. Methodologies and technologies are correspondingly considered from a wide range in different knowledge domains, including: Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Multi-Agent Systems (MAS), Holonic Manufacturing Systems (HMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Advanced Planning Systems (APS), Design For Manufacturing (DFM), Virtual manufacturing, Digital Twins (DT) for advanced operations (addressed to problems related to maintenance, quality, production control), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) …. All together, the TC5.1 aims at raising the scientific debate on the way the technological characteristics arising with digital transformation are exploited to enhance the capabilities of manufacturing systems in terms of their agility, dependability, sustainability and resilience. Considering the importance of validation of theories 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 social impacts of manufacturing operations, and the opportunities created by the technological evolution.

Overall, in the realm of Industry 4.0-based transformation, Cyber-Physical Systems (CPSs) are envisioned as one of the most promising technological concepts leading to build the future smart factories. Therefore, CPSs are adopted to frame the scientific challenges met by the Technical Committee at different levels of interest, i.e. factory/plant level, system and workstation/machine level. Within this framework, a new generation of smart, advanced and robust manufacturing processes and systems are investigated in order to contribute to the achievement of the Factory of the Future.

Marco Macchi, Chair

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