Final Report Summary - VRL KCIP (Virtual Research Lab for a Knowledge Community in Production)
It has also been requested to integrate new technologies of production to design innovative products. This can be obtained by installing a virtual production system. Through the VRL-KCIP network of excellence, Europe will be able to federate many research teams in the field of design, production and innovation and thus preserve the common inheritance of manufacturing processes while carrying out a collaborative system of design integrating a module of virtual production. 20 research units, gathering 150 researchers, decided to work together in order to provide a strong integration of their teams and thus break the fragmentation of European research in this area and work more efficiently.
Joint research in the area of virtual product development has been coordinated future research on virtual prototyping, on digital mock-up, on virtual reality, on the development of innovative products. In the area of virtual manufacturing has been studied research on manufacturing process simulation, on digital manufacturing and performance evaluation, on production management and scheduling, on process design. In the area of manufacturing processes and equipment, we have worked on composite processes, on laser cladding, on assisted machining, on electro discharge machining, on microproduction. In the field of cross enterprise engineering, the studies were on collaborative project development, on complexity and requirements management, on managing views on the product life cycle. And in the field of engineering and product life-cycle knowledge management has been developed the integration of virtual prototyping processes with CAD systems as part of KBE integration in CAD systems and product life-cycle knowledge management. A lot of elements of this research allow establishing new collaborations among the members and some of them open on proposals for the calls of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
It is absolutely clear that a lot of these researches were not possible to be achieved four years ago and we can consider as a real success of the network to provide such a capacity of creating clusters of researchers with common goals.
One of the most sensitive and decisive characteristics determining the flexibility of an organisation has been identified as the management organisational structure, as it is often the determining factor of an organisation in its success or failure to adapt to the ever changing business environment. The VRL KCiP network addressed the problem of management in a dynamic environment by developing a distributed, multilevel, matrix-type organisation.
The network's distributed leadership has enabled increased member responsibility, participation and motivation throughout the organisation. As a result of the matrix, the management structure remains stable even though its composition is dynamic. This matrix structure reduces management complexity and increases its flexibility, thus maintaining management resilience.
Now that the days of the funded VRL-KCIP project have ended and EMIRAcle the selfsupporting association is finally stabilising its new identity, it has been decided to maintain this same successful management type model.
Within this model, a president (formerly scientific coordinator), a treasurer, a secretary and three Vice president (VP) positions dedicated to research, education and the business office (formerly the directory board), as well as the orientation board concept have been preserved. The three VPs were assigned specific responsibilities to make it easier for them to focus on the future challenges in these three core domains of the association; however they continue to be involved in all areas. A new position of a treasurer has been installed for the EMIRAcle association in order to guarantee a sound financial operation of the association. The treasurer for instance announces and controls the dates and the amounts of the payments to each full right or associated member. Furthermore, the functionality of the Integrative management team (IMT) will be preserved however it will be adapted to suit the activities of EMIRAcle whilst continuing to ensure that the long and short term goals of the network are achieved.
During the four years of the network, much effort was invested first in specifying and developing and then in completing the network expertise map. Along the way, three obstacles were identified:
(a) how to develop an ontology for the network (to be applied as map coordinates);
(b) how to motivate network members to contribute their expertise - to create a win-win scenario in which researchers understand the added benefit of supplying their structured expertise profile to the network; and
(c) how to continually update the ontology to incorporate the expertise of new members or new fields of expertise developing in our area.
To date, 78 % of the permanent researchers and 74 % of the graduate students who are currently network members have entered their expertise profile into the VRL KMS collective knowledge base. Furthermore, over 50 % of these profiles now also include the expert's level of expertise in each expertise area.
The resulting knowledge map is available within the VRL KMS. Furthermore, by means of the available wizards developed within the system, the knowledge map can also easily be exported to a member's local computer for further analysis.
The member expertise profiles have also been exported to the VRL website, so that interested parties, whether external or internal, can easily locate experts in any of the relevant areas in our field. The expertise maps are also further supported by a complementary structured CV for network members. This consistent CV structure can provide interested parties improved insight into the experience, current fields of interest and research of the network experts. Among the current network members, 51 % of the permanent researchers and 66 % of the graduate students have entered their CV details into the VRL KMS collective knowledge base.
The export capability takes objects with the proper authorisation and publishes them on the web in context, thus providing users with an easily navigated overview of the network, including its members, labs, expertise, collaborations, ongoing research and publications. This capability also facilitates providing external partners with the 'highlights' of the VRL world via an easily navigated site incorporated into the official VRL website.