The Reference Architecture is the conceptual framework and blueprint for the design of the main object of research in FAR-EDGE: an open platform for factory automation based on edge computing and IoT/CPS technologies.
In the specific context of FAR-EDGE, the goal is to define the open and royalty-free specifications of a factory automation platform that might become the technical foundation of a business ecosystem involving factory OEMs, system integrators and solution developers.
The envisioned Platform should address the most common infrastructural problems and bottlenecks in the functional domains of automation, analytics and simulation – arguably the top three technical concerns in the business – clearing the path-to-market for the vertical solutions of OEMs, integrators and developers.
Inspired by the FAR-EDGE vision of decentralized factory automation, the very first step in the project was an initial analysis of high-level requirements and potential scenarios, done with the involvement of the full consortium and in particular of its two industrial partners.
- requirements have been identified from very generic technical needs,
- scenario proposals stem from actual production processes in Volvo and in Whirlpool. Scenarios from both industrial partners have been optimized and/or extended by leveraging some automation, analysis and simulation capabilities that are expected from the FAR-EDGE Platform to come.
The target is the high-level design of the abstract FAR-EDGE Platform. In this design, we show how Functional Domains and XC Functions materialise into Platform Components and Enablers.
Ηow these elements are deployed in Scopes and Tiers and how they interact with each other and with the factory world – i.e., legacy systems and devices, as well as new ad-hoc applications; and, last but not least, how they actually meet the stakeholders’ requirements and enable the industrial use cases that were set as the project’s objectives.
We set the boundaries of the FAR-EDGE Platform with respect to the FAR-EDGE RA, as the RA is an architectural description of a complete factory automation system – from Things to Applications – while the Platform’s only concern is the supporting infrastructure.
The picture below draws the Platform’s scope with respect to the more general one of the RA. Note how Smart Objects intersect with the FAR-EDGE Platform at its borders: they are not first-class citizens of the Platform but are still addressed to some limited extent (e.g., integration into the wider security infrastructure of the Platform).
FAR-EDGE Platform vs. RA