The concept of Tangible / Intangible Asset is a key aspect of Virtual Enterprises. The term “asset” represents any item of economic value owned by an Enterprise. Assets are basically divided into two broad categories: resources and capabilities. The former are tangible items, like machinery, hardware, transportation vehicles, buildings, people (employees), etc. The latter items are of a more intangible nature: corporate knowledge (e.g., definitions of business or technical processes), individual competences, business relationships, etc. Both Tangible and Intangible Assets are used to achieve the goals of the Enterprise- i.e., production/delivery of products/services. In a Manufacturing Ecosystem, like that of a Virtual Factory scenario, Enterprise-level Tangible / Intangible Assets are leveraged in a collaborative way to realize the common objectives of the Virtual Enterprise; in other words, they are exposed and traded as services within the Ecosystem.
The FITMAN Collaborative Asset Management SE (FITMAN-CAM) is a dedicated platform for the collaborative management of Asset-as-a-Service (AaaS) entities in the Virtual Factory. It targets the business user, who is not required to have IT expertise, nor an in-depth knowledge of ontology-related concepts and technologies. FITMAN-CAM is a web-based, integrated platform for the management of virtualized Assets in the scope of service-oriented Manufacturing Ecosystems. Targeted at the Virtual Factory domain, and based on open standards like Resource Description Framework (RDF), Web Ontology Language (OWL2) and Universal Service Description Language (LinkedUSDL), it is delivered as a web portal in order to maximize its collaborative nature.
The main features of FITMAN-CAM are the following:
- Define a Reference Ontology using OWL2 constructs: classes, individuals, properties
- Describe Tangible and Intangible Assets by means of the Reference Ontology
- Store T/I Asset descriptions in an online repository as virtualized Assets
- Create Assets as a Service (AaaS) items by linking a virtualized Asset to a service offering (i.e., availability, pricing, terms & conditions), as defined by LinkedUSDL descriptor
- Create complex AaaS bundles by composition of simple ones
- Publish AaaS offerings to a Service Store, which is part of a larger Service Marketplace spanning the entire Manufacturing Ecosystem
- Search for AaaS offerings in the local Service Marketplace of your Manufacturing Ecosystem, and in the external Marketplaces belonging to federated Ecosystems
- Entirely web-based: no software to be installed locally by users
- A single FITMAN-CAM instance may support very large, distributed, decentralized organizations: multiple corporate user credentials databases (e.g., LDAP, Active Directory) integrate seamlessly with authentication and profiling subsystem
- Multiple FITMAN-CAM instances can be federated to create an Ecosystem cluster
In FITMAN-CAM, Tangible / Intangible Assets are virtualized as OWL2 individuals – i.e., described in terms of a reference Ontology, as instances of some class which defines a specific category of items, and stored in a repository.
A high-level architectural overview of FITMAN-CAM is given by the following picture: