The motivation for the openMOS project is that European Manufacturing Industry has to become increasingly agile to compete in the global economy. OEMs need to be able to produce premium quality on demand. Traditional manufacturing models which are based on large production volumes and continuous improvement become increasingly difficult to sustain. Ever smaller lot sizes are required to be able to achieve short lead times for an increasing range of products and variants. High variety and flexibility is traditionally the domain of manual manufacturing systems. Repeatable high quality on the other hand, is the strength of automation systems. The root cause of many warranty issues for high quality products can be traced back to manual work.

While automated systems are appealing to achieve high productivity and quality requirements, their sensitivity to change is becoming increasingly a bottleneck to substantially reduce lot sizes and allow more frequent change-overs. The traditional approach to engineer out variation is no longer viable in many cases. The system integration effort and operational complexity for flexible automation systems on the other hand, increases exponentially with the number of product variations. Plug-and-produce automation systems that allow easy change over and reconfiguration based on predefined process capabilities and fast integration methods, are much less sensitive to larger numbers of product variants. This is because their complexity and associated cost only increases in roughly linear proportions. Hence, allowing highly automated systems to better cope with large numbers of product variants and frequent change overs, compared to traditional methods.


The concept of plug-and-produce within the manufacturing automation domain is of course not new. In fact, a substantial amount of public and private development effort has been invested into this topic on European and National level. Despite these efforts, there is still little concrete evidence of commercially viable plug-and-produce systems. Plug-and-produce requires common standards which are notoriously difficult to achieve within the highly competitive and diverse manufacturing automation community. The vast majority of component/ devices/ machine manufacturers and system integrators are SMEs. Therefore, plug-and-produce can only be achieved by placing specific SME requirements at the forefront: solutions by, and for, SMEs.

To date, the majority of industrial solutions have been created by major corporations and target large companies. This is particularly true for the digital factory as well as integrated planning & scheduling systems. However, the “new industrial society” will have to rely on fundamentally new technologies and approaches, ranging from fully interchangeable system modules to new, fully integrated business models. This will not be achieved by modifying and/ or updating existing systems: successful future solutions will have to be designed by SMEs and for SMEs on the basis of an entirely new approach to industrial production.