Frequently Asked Questions - What is OPIL & How does it work?
OPIL is one of the core elements of L4MS. Teams applying to L4MS Open Call should describe in their Application Experiment how OPIL and 3D simulation could reduce the installation time and cost of mobile robots significantly.
Open Platform for Innovations in Logistics (OPIL) is an open industrial IoT platform that – together with a 3D simulator (provided by Visual Components®) – will enable complete virtualization of the intra-factory logistics automation and will accelerate the innovation processes in SMEs. The digitalization will allow cost effective deployment of exceptionally small and flexible logistics solutions requiring no infrastructure change, no production downtime and no in-house expertise, while making investment in logistics automation extremely attractive for manufacturing SMEs. Using OPIL and 3D Simulations, the AEs will conceive highly autonomous, configurable and hybrid (human-robot) logistics solutions driven by the business needs of the manufacturing SMEs. The availability of OPIL will enable new actors in the business value chain.
More system integrators, platform service providers and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) will become the stakeholders in the logistics automation. The existing infrastructure can be utilized at a fraction of current prices and procured as a PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service) as per need. The system integrators with the availability of open interfaces will be able to provide highly customized solutions to the regional manufacturing SMEs.
Is OPIL used just for the testing and 3D -simulation? Does it communicate to the software that moves the AGV? Does it send signal to AGV?
OPIL is actually developed for production mode and not only for simulation. OPIL is a set of containers, providing open interfaces towards other modules and to physical devices like AGVs. OPIL is a set of containers for some various modules, like AGVs, humans, sensors, but also for a HMI and/or a TaskPlanner. So it depends on your setup and your requirements.
In what ways could OPIL be applied in, for example, textile manufacturing industry that operates the factory with AGVs? How many components of the OPIL have to be employed in order for it to be considered as integrated? Do we have to integrate every element?
OPIL can be used in the textile manufacturing. We are focussing on automating the material flow. There is a minimal set of components which are needed to deploy, like a TaskPlanner, an HMI, the Communication Middleware and components of the IoT Layer, but this depends on your requirements.
OPIL & Open Call
Why is it important to show OPIL implementation in the project?
OPIL is one of the core elements of L4MS. The idea of the project is to experiment with the developed technology, making the innovation processes faster and simpler. The Applicants should use the technology as their basic resource and contribute – whenever possible - with further OPIL development and bringing new functionalities.
In the Guide For Applicants it says "The Applicants should use the technology as their basic resource and contribute – whenever possible - with further OPIL development and bringing new functionalities". What would you envision as "bringing new functionalities"?
New functionalities able to improve the OPIL itself, as some requirements from logistics not addressed yet for which you would like to propose solutions with your experiment. ROS packages are dedicated to robot navigation, simulation and communication.
For the first version of OPIL, the RAN only works in a simulated environment. Is it only a virtual simulation of what the robot will do, while it doesn't actually do it? If so, how can the applicability or usability of OPIL be demonstrated and estimated?
We are also having a real solution, not only simulated; in fact, we are also having some demos already prepared how a real AGV is connected to OPILs RAN.
In the template for application you mentioned 3D Simulation. Do you mean "Virtual Commissioning"?
The 3D simulation tools are provided within OPIL. For this we have integrated 3D simulation tools from virtual components (the provider). OPIL provides Interfaces towards a external simulator. In our case we are using visual components. You can simulate your process/commissioning, but the simulation is not part of OPIL. Tools and models to build a "Virtual Commissioning" for even the simplest logistic is not an inexpensive task (maybe it goes beyond the €250K of the call).
Can OPIL be extended with own tools within the project scope?
This is our desire, so yes, as long as you can justify that the own tools extend OPIL and they are useful for other cases. Is it possible to get a short description of a well suited example for this application experiment, which should be realized using OPIL (including required boundary conditions, considered components, etc.)? See our pilot experiments here and here, and find more technical details about OPIL in this PDF document
How should our proposal, then address OPIL?
The Open Call applications are submitted online and they should address the barriers faced by manufacturing companies in automatization of the logistics processes, material flow in the factories and development of suitable solutions, including i.e. (human-robot) and interactive logistics systems, highly configurable (multi-vendor) logistics systems, fully autonomous or logistics systems. The proposals should be addressing the topics related to:
- Hybrid (human-robot) and interactive logistics systems: The intra-logistics systems today are either manual or automated at least with respect to task. The AGVs does not know about the manual performed tasks and can only do their pre-defined tasks. This makes the investment of an AGV system highly risky for SMEs strongly relying on manual workers.
- By including easy to use graphical interfaces and connected task assignments and monitoring over the OPIL, it becomes possible for manual and automated vehicles to share task information and perform tasks in a collaborative manner. The perception and dynamic planning services of the OPIL also makes it possible for the AGVs (with safety certified sensors) to operate in a workspace shared with human workers and manual transports.
- The evaluation will not only cover the system functionality but also the usability and productivity compared to a completely manual system.
- Highly configurable (multi-vendor) logistics systems: The automated intra logistic systems on the market today consist of a fleet of AGVs from one vendor specifically configured for one well defined and very structured operation environment. This leads to a vendor lock, costly reconfigurations and limited scalability. This experiment will focus on developing interfaces for plug & play integration of multi-vendor AGVs into OPIL for creating highly heterogeneous fleets of AGVs. An automatic registration process will make the new AGVs a part of the OPIL ready to perform assigned tasks. Through the plug and play capability, it should be possible to increase the overall logistics capacity by adding AGVs to an already operating fleet. Involvement of system integrators in this topic is highly valuable.
- Fully autonomous logistics systems: The unloading and loading operations of the logistics chain are mostly performed manually (last mile problem). Due to continuous requirement of manual work, these operations can make the partial logistics automation economically infeasible. The loading/unloading tasks are very complex non-rigid and nonstatic operations. Their automation demands special context-awareness abilities and capability to interact with a changing environment. Although generic solutions require significant research and advancements in many technologies, specific solutions for a wide range of production tasks can be developed. This experiment requires the implementation of innovative material handling and perception tools to fully automate the logistics chain including the loading and unloading operations.
L4MS Tutorials on Youtube - Training for Open Calls & OPIL
L4MS Tutorials on SlideShare - Applicants guide to Open Call, OPIL..
L4MS - OPIL Technology Description (pdf)