The objectives of VIRTFac


The equipment and the need of SMEs for tools for the reconfiguration, optimization and evolution of their production systems is heterogeneous.

At the time of Industry 4.0, many companies are not yet equipped with integrated management software packages, simulation and flow optimization tools, and even less with production control or virtual reality systems. Their need for tools and methods to improve or reorganize production systems is proven, but access to these tools is costly, time-consuming and requires a broad range of know-how often unavailable to SMEs. Our project will make this service accessible to SMEs.

Context and challenges

Other companies are already partially using the methods and tools mentioned above to optimise, design and modify their production systems. However, these companies are looking for new ways to improve their efficiency or to reconfigure their production system. It is easy to imagine how current workflows can be accelerated by using new IT tools. At the same time, the companies are well aware that the expansion of existing procedures has its limits and that new paradigms may emerge due to the tools mentioned above; they are seeking to collaborate with universities to develop them.

A response to the problem identified

The consortium of this project proposes to develop a virtual factory platform with a dual function. On the one hand, it will make it possible to accompany companies at various levels of maturity in planning the evolution of their production system; on the other hand, it will address research questions related with the virtual factory that arose as the result of the spread of new information technologies.

In the Grand-East and Upper Rhine regions, there are few research laboratories dealing with this subject, but there are many SMEs with needs in this area. We want to pool our complementary resources and skills.

The project aims to develop an integrated “virtual factory” platform for the design of production systems for SMEs, including a cyber-physical system.

  • Realize a platform integrating various components of a virtual factory (virtual twin) for the reconfiguration and design of production systems, especially those with a cyber-physical system.
  • To equip this platform with tools to assist in the inventive design of production systems by creating interfaces between simulation, optimization and numerical tools for inventive design.
  • To create on typical cases of company of a field (example field of plastics processing) the generic modules allowing the fast study for small companies. Evaluate the modules on real projects with student projects. Disseminate the results.
  • Explore, with showcase companies in Industry 4.0, new ways of approaching continuous improvement, optimization and reconfiguration of production systems for companies with a cyber-physical system.
  • To develop research and training synergy in the field of business reconfiguration between partner institutions on the one hand and companies on the other.

Proposed system


image credit: Céline Emonet