The Virtual Factory Testbed (VFT) is comprised of three physical facilities linked by a standalone network (VFNet). The three facilities are the Smart and Wireless Systems (SAWS) laboratory, the Metrology Interoperability Testbed (MIT), and the Controls Laboratory. The purpose of the VFT is to link together a variety of manufacturing technologies and processes, both real and in simulation, to allow for efficient testing of interoperability and performance test standards in tandem with validation testing at industrial partner pilot sites.
The SAWS laboratory includes prototyping capabilities for various wireless protocols, such as Wireless HART and the IEEE 1451 smart transducer standard, devices such as temperature sensors and solenoids to link communication hardware to physical phenomena, and test and measurement equipment such network protocol analyzers and digital storage oscilloscopes.
The Metrology Interoperability Testbed includes a Zeiss Contura coordinate measuring machine (CMM) coupled with vendor software running developmental versions of the Quality Information Format (QIF) suite of standards.
The Controls Laboratory consists of real-time software emulators for factory equipment such as robots and machine tools, with discrete-event simulators and production schedulers communicating among the emulated equipment.
The VFNet linking together these facilities is a standalone network that allows unsecured devices and computers to be interconnected while reducing the risk of network over-congestion or malicious software propagation.