Project organisation

The EU FIRST project is a project that aims to research and innovate in the field of virtual factory manufacturing. The project is broken up into 5 scientific working packages, a dissemination working package and a management working package. These packages are managed to help with overall project management and to structure the virtual factory research project. While the work is organized into working packages it is well-understood that the working packages are not independent and performing them in isolation will not generate the desired results.


Working packages

The EU FIRST project brings together partners whose shared goal for this research is to enhance manufacturing integration through the application of advanced IT solutions, this innovative project brings together researchers with expertise in the designing interoperability frameworks for facilitating interoperability on data/information, services and process levels, with a common goal of innovative development into virtual factories.

Working package 1 (BU) - Foundations & requirements

Working package 1 (Foundations & requirements) is focused on the identification of existing approaches and technologies as well as establishing the requirements for the project solutions. As such this working package will form the basis of the other scientific working packages (2 to 5).


  1. To critically review and analyse the foundational notions of interoperability of virtual factories.

       2. To compare and contrast existing different foundational notions of interoperability of virtual factories in different manufacturing sectors.

The work in this working package is split into 3 deliverables:

  1. Provide an overview of manufacturing assets, service classifications and ontologies, in addition to their requirements. This deliverable primarily informs both working package 2 and working package 3.
  2. Provide an overview of existing approaches to business process verification and the specific requirements for verification of manufacturing processes involving the virtual factory concept.
  3. Provide an overview of existing interoperability technology and approaches and creates the requirements for an interoperability framework in the manufacturing context.

To reflect the foundational nature of the deliverables in these working packages, the deliverables will be updated at the end of the virtual factory project to reflect the gained understanding developed throughout the performance of the other working packages.

Working package 2 (RUG) - Manufacturing Asset/Service description languages for virtual factories

Any process, including manufacturing processes, is built up of components. For the purposes of discovery, composition, verification and interoperability it is important that these components have a suitable description. This description must not only be accessible to the humans that manage and design the processes, but also to the computer systems that support this. The description language(s) created in this working package will support both purposes and form a foundation for working packages 3, 4 and 5.

After the initial delivery of the language it will be updated to reflect the additional insights gained through work done in working packages 3, 4 and 5.


  1. Establish the requirements of manufacturing asset/service description languages for supporting semi-automatic generating manufacturing asset description and on-the-fly process verification.
  2. Design manufacturing asset/service description languages for the virtual factory project.

Description of Deliverables:

  • Manufacturing asset/service description languages for supporting semi-automatic generating manufacturing asset description; clustering manufacturing assets from unstructured and semi-structured enterprise resources; dynamic discovery of manufacturing assets; composition in advanced applications in the domains of manufacturing, and on-the-fly process verification.

Working package 3 (Sapienza) - Manufacturing Asset/Service Discovery and Composition Methods

When managing production processes, especially when they involve external resources, the discovery and composition of available resources is key. This working package provides algorithms that allow this to be performed semi-automatically where human operators can work in familiar ways, selecting appropriate components for correct processes based on nothing more than free-text searches.


  • To develop manufacturing asset and service discovery related asset and service annotation technologies for cross-sectors manufacturing assets and services.
  • To develop manufacturing asset and service discovery methods for cross-sectors manufacturing assets and services.
  • To develop manufacturing asset and service composition methods for cross-sectors manufacturing assets and services.

Description of Deliverables:

  • Manufacturing asset service discovery methods and asset service composition methods.

Working package 4 (BU) - On-the-fly Service Oriented Process verification

In manufacturing incorrect processes can be very costly. This can range from wastage of product to damage to machines and production facilities. Verification of processes before execution is very important in to prevent this. Especially when aiming to reduce the requirements on the staff that designs/modifies the manufacturing processes. To improve the experience this verification will (where possible) be performed on-the-fly while the process designer is designing or modifying the process.


  • To develop on-the-fly service-oriented process verification method to support end user building executable process models, which does not required specific process modelling versification knowledge.

Description of Deliverables:

  • On-the-fly service-oriented process verification and implementation.

Working package 5 (RUG) - Manufacturing and virtual factory interoperability framework

When manufacturing assets and services are provided by a variety of vendors, or even operated by different companies this requires that they are made to interoperate. The interoperation is essential for the efficient execution of the manufacturing process. This working package will design an interoperability framework to support the efficient integration of these various services, including the support of service/asset evolution (new versions).


  • To exploit interoperability in data, service and process levels respectively.
  • To support dynamic business process management in relation to virtual factories.
  • To provide an extensible framework that brings manufacturing asset service to Web scale enterprise collaboration and virtual factory building.

Description of Deliverables

  • Interoperability framework of virtual factory and business innovation.

Working package 6 (UniMore) - Dissemination and Training

Besides research results of the project will disseminated through top-tier academic journals and conferences, we also ensure that the results will be transferred to broadest possible audience in the public world. It will also feed in to curricula development for training. Moreover, this WP will manage the dissemination of results, both to the media and to the scientific community. This WP will be responsible for the visibility of the consortium to the general public, the communication strategy and will also ensure that all partners will be fully included in the dissemination of the findings. This working package will be responsible for the planning and execution of conferences and other scientific meetings; and publication in high-quality peer-reviewed journals.


  • To report the results, findings and conclusions directly to stakeholders for feedback and comment.
  • To disseminate the findings through local and national governments, non-government organisations, and industry within all EU countries and China using established networks.
  • To present the findings for discussion and feedback to the international academic community and inform virtual factory training.
  • To submit a final report, to include recommendations for policy strategies, to the EU and Chinese government and make both the report and other information available to all interested parties.

Description of Deliverables:

  • Present virtual factory research papers at international conferences and meetings.
  • Workshops on smart manufacturing and the virtual factory concept.
  • Open access papers in academic and professional journals.
  • Final EU FIRST project report.

Working package 7 (BU) - Management and Coordination


  • To clarify any process/content issues at  the outset of the project
  • To confirm management structure, responsibilities, deliverables and timescales for the duration of the project.

Description of Deliverables:

  • Agreed and signed FIRST Consortium Agreement .
  • Consortium Project Operations Manual recording, inter alia, allocated tasks and responsibilities, individual milestones and deliverables, timescales and financial protocol.
  • EU FIRST Project website.
Copyright 2017-2018, FIRST Consortium - This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 734599