The manufacturing industry has historically been the driver of growth and development in the EU, and as such this sector performs as a key enabler of technological innovations, both related to development of new processes, new goods and services. Keeping up with the trends of Industry 4.0, iMAN focuses on the development of innovative concepts, methodologies and tools for supporting the autonomy and adaptability of manufacturing resources (e.g. machinery and robots), as the basis for supporting mass customised and highly personalised products and fast reactions to shifts of market demands.
iMAN’s goal is to explore a novel integrated vision for designing, organizing, executing and improving manufacturing operations, which shall bring about different challenges and opportunities, such as:
- Developing new models for collaborative supply chain networks, anticipating risks and opportunities of network business models and flexible manufacturing strategies.
- Leveraging the decision-making processes by proposing new model-based tools that combine design and operational decisions, in the context of high mix and low volume production. This encompasses optimized factory designs to improve resources utilization and energy consumption, while enhancing the role of human capabilities in the manufacturing systems.
- Creating new models and solutions to address problems from procurement to distribution, including material preparation (cutting and packing), production planning and scheduling, among others. This translates to new mathematical and heuristic approaches for solving production planning and scheduling problems in the presence of variability and uncertainty, while incorporating demand planning capabilities. Furthermore, approaches based on simulation-optimization to address uncertainty will be developed, allowing the systems to react to sudden plant/demand changes and perform replanning, rescheduling and optimized shop-floor control.
- Conceptualizing and developing new robotic systems for industrial environments, focusing on a strong cooperation with humans, and on flexible and agile methods for programming industrial robots. To handle geometric and task uncertainty, new methods for cooperative motion planning of dual-arms robots will be developed, and new standards and frameworks for the safety of critical software components of the robotic systems will be proposed.
- Enhancing existing knowledge regarding the performance of Product Service Systems, through the development of an analytical framework that incorporates lifecycle assessment and cost modelling methodologies. Furthermore, new analytic and knowledge representation models, coupled with an ontological framework shall help to streamline the decision-making processes for plant design, planning and scheduling.
By promoting knowledge sharing among researchers with different backgrounds, iMAN aims to make critical and tangible advances on Advanced Production Systems, creating the conditions for pursuing a Smart Specialization towards a sustainable, competitive and highly adaptive advanced manufacturing value-chain.