What is a virtual factory?
A virtual factory is an integrated simulation model of major subsystems in a factory that considers the factory as a whole and provides an advanced decision support capability
COPERNICO will allow companies to compare themselves to different factory types, and show them how to adapt to meet new challenges, through an innovative online classification and modelling system. This system will shortly be available from this site. The tool uses an analytical approach, borrowed from the biological sciences, called cladistics – to find out more, see our simple introductory guide.
COPERNICO is funded by the European 7th Framework Factory of the Future Initiative which is part of the European Economic Recovery plan. This aims to help European companies, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, to adapt to global pressures by improving the technological base of manufacturing.
Consumer expectations and the demands of mass customisation and personalized products mean that factory layout and production cells need to continuously change and evolve. Businesses can already access tools which can model complete enterprises, factory layouts, machine placements and workflows, but they need a way to integrate the results from these with information about shopfloor machinery, inherent operator knowledge and current and projected workflow demands. Concerns such as human interactions (with each other and with machines), working environment, ergonomics and work psychology considerations also need to be taken into account. COPERNICO will address all these aspects and provide a robust route to address change and compete on the global stage.
The main objective of COPERNICO is to develop a model of a virtual factory developing integrated models of organisations, processes and systems in a virtual environment. This is to be made available and applicable to the majority of manufacturing organisations through the use of a novel classification system. A further innovation is to make the system accessible to small and medium sized companies through a web-based portal.
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