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Wonderlogix STUDIO Report Summary

Project ID: 744068

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Wonderlogix STUDIO (Wonderlogix STUDIO: Towards Seamless Industrial Control)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2017-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Automated Control Systems are part of almost every industrial facility today. Power plants, food factories and water supply systems are but a few examples of the numerous venues where such systems can be found. Designed to coordinate and regulate the behaviour of devices operating in industrial facilities, the logic behind these systems is run through specific devices, called PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers).

If one looks at how the source code for PLCs is developed today, it is easily noticeable that it is an ad-hoc task, usually developed by a Control Engineer, who translates into source code the specifications and requirements transferred by a Process Engineer, more familiar with the plant’s operations. The consequences of this approach are no stranger to our industry: the lack of standards and dedicated tools for process modelling and simulation, the communication gap between the two expert roles, and the utilization of outdated programming languages, often carry with them time losses, and more commonly, error-littered code that leads to production downtime, with the associated costs.

WonderLogix Studio tackles the definition of requirements from a single perspective, closer to the domain of the Process Engineer as it enables modelling processes graphically. These models are later enriched with human language definitions describing the required behaviour of each one, and finally, the portrayed processes are automatically translated into clean, optimal source code fulfilling good-practice PLC programming patterns. Because the resulting code is that precise, the intervention of code developers afterwards shall be minimal, limited to review and/or small changes.

The objectives of this project are twofold: on the one hand, we aim at bringing the product beta version to a release state meeting the identified market requirements; on the other hand, a commercialization plan has been developed so as to build a solid distribution network that helps our company reaching the pinpointed target market segments.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The specific objectives for the Phase 1 execution were:

Technical feasibility study. During the realization of this study, critical features for the continuity of the project were analyzed: i) a state machine editor has been prototyped and the necessary improvements for market release pinpointed, ii) clock-time function was implemented and its grade of coverage assessed, concluding that it must be fine-tuned to gather appropriate data for code generation, iii) element array type was successfully developed, receiving excellent feedback from showcase, and with the pending task of incorporating the functionality to the User Interface, and iv) the suitability of the current User Interface to be migrated to a more up-to-date visual solution adding functional value, which concluded the unfeasibility in modernizing the current SVG-object model editor by ourselves without incurring in a significant delay in the project planning, for what appointing a specialized company in the matter will be necessary in the feature.

Commercial assessment and business plan. Assessment on the specific characteristics of the market, segmentation and on a tentative exploitation strategy and target market selection. Identification of competitors and competing solutions, regulation and certification applicable, and analysis of the social environment.

Financial viability assessment. We conducted a 5-year financial plan, including pessimist, optimistic and realistic scenarios.

FTO/IPR. A Freedom-to-Operate was developed, for which we counted with the aid of two independent companies which concluded no regulatory threat in the target markets. Additionally, the necessity of applying for trademark was green-lighted.

Additionally, the feasibility in developing the aforementioned technical and commercial plans was assessed in terms of time and resources, with an implementation plan as a result.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Wonderlogix Studio inherently reduces the gap in communication between different expert roles. We achieve so by means of a syntax based on natural language and intuitive diagrams that model processes. In this way, we overcome the cumbersome nature of existing solutions for PLC programming, chiefly oriented to specialized programmers, and not to Process Engineers.

This is of special interest, as it has been studied that errors in programming are responsible for roughly 23% cost increase in industrial projects, and also that cost reduction proves to be a big concern in this kind of facilities, as development and militainment is especially costly.

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