1. What is a Common Information Model

In manufacturing, a Common Information Model (CIM) is a model based on industrial standards enabling data understanding between different production lines.

1. The first level of understanding is horizontal: between devices and systems (that is to say assets) and their administration shell.

2. The second level is vertical: across the different layers of industrial automated production plants. This can include field level, control level, supervisory level, planning level, enterprise level, and cloud.

2. Why de we need a Common Information Model?

As of today, we develop information models in-house. They satisfy enterprise functional requirements but are not interoperable. This means we cannot use the production data of one production line to optime the functioning of another production line.

This stresses the importance of data interoperability between different production plants. Systems and services have to have the ability to “create, exchange and consume data to have clear, shared expectations for the contents, context and meaning of that data” following the Data Interoperability Standards Consortium.

3. How is DIMOFAC going to create a Common Information Model?

DIMOFAC’s aim is to build a digital manufacturing platform. It will provide functionalities enabling the modularity, adaptability, and responsiveness of any production line.

The content of the platform will be based on the production data of six factories (that act as pilot lines):

Therefore, a Common Information Model is needed to harmonise the data from all these production lines.

Building a CIM means using Industry Standards

The DIMOFAC Common Information Model will be built based on the Reference Architectural Model Industrie 4.0 (RAMI 4.0). RAMI 4.0 give companies a framework for developing future products and business models. It describes a structured way of approaching the deployment of Industry 4.0.

RAMI 4.0 aligns in particular popular and global Industry 4.0 standards to reach interoperability (of various production lines). It ensures a common data understanding among all participants involved. By bringing existing industrial standards into the production modules of the pilot lines, machine properties and capabilities are unambiguous and perfectly readable. As a result, the manufacturing data of one production line can be exploited to improve the performance of another one.

Furthermore, for the model to be transparent for all pilot lines in DIMOFAC, it will be built based on the concept of Asset Administration Shell (AAS) of Plattform Industrie4.0. The Asset Administration Shell is a key concept of industry 4.0 that along with the asset forms the Industry 4.0 Component (I4.0 Component). An I4.0 Component can be a production system, a single machine or station which is globally uniquely identifiable. The structure of AAS provides information about assets and I4.0 Components in a way that it can be exchanged in a meaningful manner between partners in a value creation network.

The Common Information Model blueprint is the key foundation for reaching the objectives of the DIMOFAC project. It finalised the holistic architecture for smart modular production. The DIMOFAC Common Information Model is a reference model for any industrial implementation and intends to maximise the reusability of the data model.

As the contexts and applications within DIMOFAC are radically different, the Common Information Model should allow the integration of production modules and services in modular production lines with minimal manual intervention.

4. Benefits of data interoperability

Therefore, to name a few, the Common Information Model enables the development of flexible multi-functional Plug-and-Produce modules and thus flexible and reconfigurable production lines, production process such as orchestration of process, communication between the digital twins and shop floor.

In the case of DIMOFAC and more specifically for the Plug-and-Produce service, it means that if for instance Philips and Albéa have to exchange data in a meaningful way between their modules or assets, or even their production lines, they can do it thanks to the data interoperability that is provided by the Common Information Model which is developed based on the Asset Administration Shell meta-model.

The exchange of data between pilot lines is an end-to-end infrastructure boosting data sharing, affecting all hierarchy levels, that is to say product engineering, shop floor and management/business.

The Common Information Model promises to equip all six DIMOFAC pilot lines with meaningful and standardised information as well as common understanding of concepts in the data structures. This will ensure data interoperability between the DIMOFAC pilot lines.

Article from Monireh Pourjafarian, Researcher at DFKI