Omnifactory Research Centre

The Omnifactory Research Centre is a research team at the University of Nottingham. The team closely collaborated with top European aerospace companies to conduct practical research into future aerospace assembly systems.

One of their major projects, the Future Automated Aircraft Assembly Demonstrator (FA3D), underwent an upgrade during Phase 2 of its development (FA3D2). This upgrade aimed to transform FA3D into a national experimental testbed and technology demonstrator for digital and informatics-enabled aerospace manufacturing technologies. The final output of this project was the development of the unique Omnifactory® facility based at the University of Nottingham.

To carry out this upgrade, the university engaged several technology providers from various fields. The project was divided into “Work Packs”, each addressing different aspects, from mechanical components to control systems.

Fairfield control systems were successful in tendering one of the “Work Packs” to deliver the hardware and architectural design for the Internet of Things (IoT), as shown in the image below.


Fairfield Control Systems worked in collaboration with the university team to provide real-time data acquisition, management, and visualisation through interactive dashboards and SCADA.

The system allows users to capture data from connected plant, intelligent sensors, and metrology devices. The data from the sensors is organised within the data store and allows for analysis and insights into automated processes.

The system presents real-time information to users via interactive dashboards on a SCADA system, while also allowing the university access to this data programmatically through a Windows desktop application. Data can also be exported to data analysis systems developed by the university.


The dashboards have been developed on Siemens WinCC Unified SCADA platform and use the Openness functionality to allow an output file from the PLM system to automate the generation of the dashboards. This means that as the assembly cells are re-configured depending on the part being assembled, the dashboards are generated to match this layout. This takes a process that would typically take several weeks of redesign and testing under a traditional SCADA software engineering methodology, and automatically generates the relevant dashboards in minutes. This allows the assembly cell to meet its target of being re-configurable in several hours rather than several days.

In addition to the original Work Pack scope, Fairfield Control Systems also went on to supply, configure, and install the Server Cluster that runs the SCADA and several other Digital Workflow software applications, such as Siemens’ Teamcenter PLM, PLCSIM Advanced and SIMIT programs.



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