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The first components for Plug & Produce

Photo: Festo
Published Aug 05, 2020

Production modules that reduce the installation cost when producing a product – that is something that the Evolvable Production Systems (EPS) has led to. This in turn saves time and reduces errors in the factory. Today, the EPS production modules are used by companies all over the globe.

The Evolvable Production Systems (EPS) research began in the late 1990’s and led to the formulation of an entirely new paradigm for system design in 2002. The work presented in 2002 led to the formation of a large reearch group at European level, including University of Nottingham, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, FESTO AG, Electrolux, Bosch and others. This research group obtained 6 large European Commission projects during the period 2004-2010: Assembly Net (FP4), A3 (Marie Curie), microSapient (FP5), EUPASS (FP6), IDEAS (FP7), PRIME (FP7).

The work has resulted in commercial applications and was the first group to demonstrate Plug-&-Produce production system components in industry at the FESTO site in november 2011. The research group, led by Mauro Onori, obtained several awards, including the Japan Robot Association (JARA) award, Emerald Literati, Outstanding Journal Paper and other awards.

The EPS paradigm showed that production system modules could be linked to product features. It also enables the creation of ”families” of modules that configure and organise without human intervention, thus cutting installation costs dramatically. EPS also introduced a novel multi-agent based software control approach that will eliminate the need of old Programmable Logic Controllers(PLC).

The work has led the IEEE to register the EPS paradigm and the European Commission has set their work as a Success Story as well as using the Evolvability criterion as fundamental for future industry.

Companies now produce EPS production modules, including FESTO AG and MASMEC SpA. This year the company ELREST GmbH launched a series of industrial controllers for EPS applications as standard products. Furthermore, the EPS research is now moving to standardising this approach at communication protocol level and industrial interfacing level. Work is ongoing with COLLADA, ELREST, FORD, and other partners within the newly completed Horizon2020 project openMOS. 


Luis Ribeiro, José Barata, Mauro Onori, Johannes Hoos: Industrial Agents for the Fast Deployment of Evolvable Assembly Systems; DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-800341-1.00017-6

Lihui Wang, Martin Törngren, Mauro Onori: Current status and advancement of cyber-physical systems in manufacturing. Journal of Manufacturing Systems 05/2015; 37. DOI:10.1016/j.jmsy.2015.04.008

P. Neves, L. Ribeiro, M. Onori, J. Barata: Performance Assessment in Self-organising Mechatronic Systems: A First Step towards Understanding the Topology Influence in Complex Behaviours. IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology 01/2014; 423:75-84. DOI:10.1007/978-3-642-54734-9

P. Neves, L. Ribeiro, J. Dias-Ferreira, A. Maffei, M. Onori, J. Barata: Data-mining approach to support layout configuration decision-making in Evolvable Production Systems.
Hakan Akillioglu, João Ferreira, Mauro Onori: Demand Responsive Planning-Workload Control Implementation. Assembly Automation 04/2013; 3(33). DOI:10.1108/AA-12-2013-040

Antonio Maffei, Mauro Onori: Evolvable Production Systems: Environment for New Business Models. Key Engineering Materials 02/2011; 467:1592-1597. DOI:10.4028/

Luis Ribeiro, Jose Barata, Mauro Onori, Christoph Hanisch, Johannes Hoos, Rogerio Rosa: Self-organization in automation - The IDEAS pre-demonstrator. 01/2011; DOI:10.1109/IECON.2011.6119747

D. Semere, M. Onori, A. Maffei, R. Adamietz: Evolvable assembly systems: Coping with variations through evolution. Assembly Automation 04/2008; 28(2):126-133. DOI:10.1108/01445150810863707

JoãoDias Ferreira, Luis Ribeiro, Mauro Onori, José Barata: Challenges and Properties for Bio-inspiration in Manufacturing. Technological Innovation for Collective Awareness Systems, Edited by Camarinha-Matos, LuisM. and Barrento, NunoS. and Mendonça, Ricardo, 04/2014: pages 139-148; Springer Berlin Heidelberg., ISBN: 9783642547331

M. Onori, P. Neves, H. Akillioglu, A. Maffei, A. Hofmann, N. Siltala: Dealing with the unpredictable: An Evolvable Robotic Assembly Cell. Enabling Manufacturing Competitiveness and Economic Sustainability, 12/2011: pages 160-165;

**M. Onori: Evolvable assembly systems - A new paradigm?, Proceedings of the International Industrial Robot Symposium, ISR2002, Stcokholm, Oct.2002