The Stack Archive

Fraunhofer introduces Virtual Fort Knox for cloud

Mon 3 Apr 2017

Fort Knox

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering and Automation (Fraunhofer IPA) have released Virtual Fort Knox, a hybrid cloud marketplace focused on data security for manufacturing enterprises.

Virtual Fort Knox (VFK) is an online marketplace that brings together manufacturing companies, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with IT providers, to help increase efficiency, create better production flows, and develop new business models.

Using the VFK hybrid cloud, end users can select services from software vendors and create customized solutions from a community of independent software vendors. They are also able to create communities within VFK that can be used to exchange ideas and evaluate services available on the platform.

VFK was created to serve the needs of manufacturing SMEs that may have been sceptical of cloud adoption due to security concerns. The services available on VFK include big data, data evaluation and visualization as well as data storage and production control.

Companies are not expected to invest in new technology in order to use the VFK platform. Rather, end users can select or commission different types of solutions that fit with existing processes. Software providers may also work together to improve service offerings and brainstorm creative solutions.

Joachim Seidelmann, head of DigiTools for Manufacturing at Fraunhofer IPA, believes that Virtual Fort Knox will help serve the needs of manufacturing clients looking for a customized and creative solution to improve process efficiency.

“The advancing digitalization of production calls for modular, flexible and vendor-neutral software solutions,” he said. “With VFK, freely configurable apps make production data available on any type of end device.”

He also noted that a pilot program of twenty projects is currently being conducted on the VFK platform, and that software vendors are already integrating new applications in the platform.

The company provided an example of a VFK project for the development of additional sensors that were fitted to an analog lathe. The lathe, which was already used in the client’s manufacturing process, became a valuable source for data, which the new sensors transmitted to the cloud. The data was then incorporated into the digital workflow.

Virtual Fort Knox will be demonstrated at the Industrie 4.0 event at Hanover Messe at the end of this month.


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