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Value Improvement through a Virtual Aeronautical Collaborative Enterprise (VIVACE)

Final Report Summary - VIVACE (Value Improvement through a Virtual Aeronautical Collaborative Enterprise)

The VIVACE intended to achieve a 5 % cost reduction in aircraft development and a 5 % reduction of the development phase of a new aircraft design combined with a contribution to a 30 % reduction in the lead-time and 50 % reduction in development costs respectively for a new or derivative gas turbine engine. To achieve this overall objective, the work in VIVACE was organised around use cases, i.e. real industrial simulations of a components or sub-components of the aircraft or the engine or of a development process, reflecting both the virtual product and the virtual extended enterprise. Each of these included on the one hand requirements for early product simulation and on the other hand requirements for distributed working methods.

VIVACE was comprised of three technical sub-projects. Two of them represented the aircraft and engine products, and the third ensured the integration of component frameworks developed by the first two into an advanced concurrent engineering design framework - the VIVACE collaborative design environment. At its end, VIVACE delivered a virtual product design and validation platform, based on a distributed concurrent engineering methodology supporting the virtual enterprise.

Virtual aircraft sub-project (leader: Airbus France)
The virtual aircraft sub-project revolved around the main components that constitute an aircraft, and had six integrated technical work packages (system simulation, components, global aircraft, flight physics simulation, complex sub-systems, supportability engineering). They were selected to cover the aircraft product throughout the development life cycle (design, modelling, interfacing and testing).

Virtual engine sub-project (leader: Rolls-Royce plc)
The virtual engine sub-project consisted of five integrated technical work packages performing fundamental research to provide capabilities for a competitive European jet engine industry working across extended enterprises (extended let engine enterprise scenario, life cycle modelling within the virtual engine enterprise, whole engine development, European cycle programme, supply chain manufacturing workflow simulation). It developed the different engine modules of the aircraft propulsion system and key areas of multi-disciplinary optimisation, knowledge management and collaborative enterprises.

Advanced capabilities sub-project (leader: EADS-IW-F)
The advanced capabilities sub-project was a key integrating work area that developed common tools, methodologies and guidelines. It consisted of six technical work packages that provided cohesion between the first two sub-projects through activities that were generic and common to both (knowledge enabled engineering, multi-disciplinary design and optimisation, design to decision objectives, engineering data management, distributed information systems infrastructure for large enterprise, collaboration hub for heterogeneous enterprises).

At the end of this four year project, this vision of an aeronautical collaborative design environment has been well defined as demonstrated at the VIVACE forum 3. It is also referred to as the VIVACE toolbox, highlighting the fact that it is a re-usable result that will be exploited after the end of the VIVACE project.

To understand the role of advanced capabilities in this environment, it is important to consider firstly the linkage of the VIVACE system with the business needs and the actual implemented tools that VIVACE partners modelled using the eight-layer model and secondly the way the advanced capabilities all contributed to the VIVACE toolbox through a common generic service architecture. The eight-layer model is a representation of the various aspects considered in the VIVACE project (use case, business requirement, service requirement, generic service and information structure, service instance, middleware, foundation software, hardware). VIVACE partners identified this model as a valid representation to structure results from the technical activities conducted in the project. This model should not be considered as an architecture but as a segmentation (or taxonomy) of technical subjects handled in the project.

The main advantage of this model was that it highlighted the segmentation between level 4, which was the focus of the VIVACE system, and business issues (levels 1, 2, 3) and implementation issues (levels 5, 6, 7, 8). This showed that VIVACE results were not software tools but generic services and information structure and standards that were implemented and demonstrated using software tools.

All advanced capabilities contributed to level 4 of the eight-layer model by developing a set of generic services and to level 5 by implementing these generic services in software tools for validation and demonstration.

Generic services should be understood as follows:
- Service means an aeronautical engineering IT capability, organised from an IT perspective using the 'service-oriented architecture' approach. It could be a service to retrieve knowledge elements in a specific aeronautical context, or a service to share and manage simulation models, as demonstrated during forum 2 in late 2006. A service, by nature, is open to being used by several users, or use cases.
- Generic refers to the independence from any implementation: VIVACE generic services can be implemented on several IT infrastructures, using different commercial tools (in this sense 'generic' refers to the model driven architecture from the object management group).

The advanced capabilities provided a set of services also organised using a standard 'four-tier architecture'. Forum 3 demonstrations showed the exploitation of this toolbox through several use case scenarios. Depending on the specific needs of a collaboration (need to share knowledge, need to organise and trace the exchanged data, need to set-up multi-disciplinary processes, and so on), the toolbox was used to build the right 'aeronautical collaborative design environment' required to support the collaboration between teams in a virtual / extended enterprise context.

The main result of VIVACE was an innovative aeronautical collaborative design environment and associated processes, models and methods. This environment, validated through real industrial use cases, will help to design an aircraft and its engines by providing virtual products having all the required functionalities and components for the product design phases of the aeronautics product life cycle to the aeronautics supply chain operating in an extended enterprise mode.

The large size of VIVACE and its integrated platform structure are helping its deployment of results toward the European aeronautical supply chain and in particular toward the small and medium-sized suppliers. VIVACE is making its approach available to the aeronautics supply chain via existing networks, information dissemination, training and technology transfer actions.

The following conclusions on what VIVACE as a project had achieved were drawn:
- VIVACE has built the virtual product foundation: innovative methods have been created, validated and are currently being industrialised and deployed within the business.
- VIVACE has built the virtual enterprise foundation: innovative technologies have been created, validated and are currently being industrialised into software vendors product lines.
- VIVACE has strongly impacted the state of the art and international standards with 35 % of results achieving TRL6, 50 % TRL5, 10 % TRL 4 and the remaining 5 % of results TRL 3.