Industry 4.0 will be impacted by some new, very innovative and ambitious ITEA projects

Philippe Letellier · 29 October 2018

ITEA has contributed to innovating Smart Industries for many years now. Our Smart Industry-themed international customer and end-user workshop held in June 2017 was a big success in sharing, with some key international customers, the key pain points in the efficient deployment of some industry 4.0 cases.

I would like to highlight two incredible projects, focused on actual customer needs, which are currently delivering some unique innovations that could have an important impact on your own business. I want to share with you some ideas developed in two running ITEA projects: ENTOC (engineering optimisation for production line) and VMAP (simulation engineering optimisation for materials).

The full digitalisation of engineering

Among the key trends evident in industry 4.0 is the full digitalisation of engineering from design to test and validation. To enable this digitalisation, we are developing models and using simulators to test and validate the products as well as building digital twins to monitor product usage and, for the purpose of security and maintenance, to detect any dysfunction during the lifespan of the product. In the past incredible steps have already been made with the ITEA project MODELISAR that defined the FMI standard, an interface to exchange data and synchronise simulators at system level. This has enabled a full digital simulation of a car to be built using some dedicated simulators for different parts. This evolution has been validated by the whole automotive industry worldwide. FMI is now a standard that has extended its reach to different industries like aerospace and energy.

Beyond this system view there is another important but incredibly complex case involving materials and related industrial operations that requires a set of very complex simulators using knowledge from Physics, Chemistry, Thermodynamics, Mathematics…. You can imagine the complexity of the data to describe the materials and objects as well as the diversity of structuring the data depending on the hidden algorithms. The problem is simpler than the FMI case in terms of synchronising the processes but significantly more complex at data level; for this level of simulation we are speaking of some millions of data to describe the materials and objects.

Opening the door to automating the simulation process

The ITEA project VMAP is generating innovation very quickly in this field. For example, how can different digital simulators be interfaced to share the modelling of the materials & objects? The idea is to define a dedicated language to describe these data with its semantic, a kind of ontology of the materials whereby each simulator will be in a position to describe its data input and data output. This will allow the development of some translators to interface different simulators. It opens the door to automating the simulation process, which currently remains cumbersome and inefficient. The complexity of the data makes translation still a kind of manual task.

Follow the VMAP project ( and for the Open community) - I forecast great opportunities there to speed up Industry 4.0.

Klaus Wolf, Fraunhofer – VMAP project leader:
"I expect that in the short term (during project runtime) the VMAP interface language & implementations will enable all industry partners to significantly increase their effectiveness in product and process. Also I would expect that within the next 2 years we will have established a valuable and active working community (and advisory board) with most of the leading ISVs participating.

In the mid- and long-term the VMAP community will do all its best to fill the current 'Material Data Interface' gap and create a worldwide standard with a level of acceptance like that of FMI or ISO STEP AP209. Such acceptance includes the implementation and integration of the VMAP standard into the leading FEA codes in the manufacturing and material modelling domain."

Mastering the production line engineering

A lot of effort has been made to master the product engineering. Another side of the challenge is to master the production line engineering to produce the product itself. Whenever you start the production of a new product, a new line has to be defined. But it is also and perhaps even more important to scale up the production line, to duplicate the production line in another place to ensure the price and the quality.

This is exactly the challenge of the ITEA project ENTOC; by extending FMI it is modelling the product line. Outstanding results have already been delivered in three directions:

  • From ambiguous requirements expressed in natural language to formalised requirements;
  • A components store to move toward standardised components when possible;
  • The generation of digital twins from the engineering data.

The ability to formalise the requirements, even if only in part, will drastically simplify the exchange between the different teams involved in production line design. It will also reduce the number of misunderstandings and thus the number of bugs in this design. With in-depth understanding of production line design, the project has been able to define 5 key concepts integrated in UML and AutomationML that are sufficient to describe a concrete production line. The component store is a unique tool to industrialise the value chain of production line design. As the engineering data will be available more easily, it opens the door to also generate a digital twin of an actual production line to ensure some security check and predictive maintenance. Again, I recommend you to follow this project ENTOC ( in which unique results will be delivered very soon.

Thomas Bär, Daimler – ENTOC project leader:
"We expect, that the component vendors of mechatronic components will support their customers by offering an overall package of their components consisting of geometry, kinematics and behaviour based on the standards AutomationML and FMI within the next 2 years.

Furthermore, first steps will be done to change the specification process of production equipment based on natural language in a formalised process. The description of the specification can be done based on the standard AutomationML. This changed process will lead to an complete change of the communication between different players involved in the engineering tool chain of production equipment."

Both of these projects are open and have created a kind of advisory board to share with you their advancement and to get some specific requirements from you. Feel free to contact them at and (ENTOC).

There is a lot of value in a small discussion.

Tags: Smart industry · Innovation




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