The Virtual Learning Factory (VLF) Tools are digital tools that can be integrated thanks to the interoperability provided by interacting with the common factory data model. In principle, any digital tool can be included in the VLFT if the following requirements are met:
The digital tool offers a way to access and modify (if needed) its internal data structures, by means of exchange files or through an application programming interface (API).
A customized software component (a.k.a. plugin, connector) is developed to import/export data from/to the VLF Knowledge taking in due consideration both the reference factory data model and the specific data model adopted by the digital tool.
The development of the connector can be eased by the use of programming libraries and pre-defined SPARQL queries that are part of the VLFT.
The integrated digital tools support various phases along the factory lifecycle, such as production system design, layout design, system performance evaluation and visualization of production system performance. These phases can be sequential or more frequently iterated in loops. VLFT include the following groups of VLF Tools:
Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) to access the knowledge base, explore and generate new factory models. GUIs and queries can support the definition and retrieval of production system configurations (i.e. part types, process plans, operations, capabilities of the production resources like machine tools, transporters, storage systems) and also planning and monitoring of manufacturing execution (scheduled production volumes, available resources, key performance indicators (KPI) like throughput, average inventory, average lead time). The prototype tool OntoGui developed by CNR-STIIMA can be used for this purpose.
Performance evaluation via Discrete Event Simulation. Commercial off the shelf tools and academic tools (e.g. Java Modeling Tools) can be integrated in VLFT by developing plugins that support the automatic generation of simulation models and the automatic retrieval and storage of results to be exploited by other users and applications.
3D visualization and interaction with production systems and production resources by means of Virtual and Augmented Reality. These tools support the design, reconfiguration, training and maintenance of production systems and resources. Digital tools based on the libraries babylon.js and ApertusVR are currently available in VLFT.