Consumer expectations and the demands of mass customization and personalized products mean that factory layout and production cells need to continuously change and evolve. Tools already exist that can model complete enterprises, factory layouts, machine placements and work-flows. What is required is a way to integrate the results from these various models with information from shop-floor machinery, inherent operator knowledge and current and projected workflow demands. Softer concerns such as human interactions (with each other and with machines), working environment, ergonomics and work psychology considerations also need to be taken into account.
The main objective of COPERNICO is to develop a model of a virtual factory developing integrated models of organisations, processes and systems in a virtual environment. This is to be made available and applicable to the majority of manufacturing organisations through the use of a novel classification system. A further innovation is to make the system accessible to small and medium sized companies through a web-based portal.