Christian Doppler Laboratory „Software Engineering Integration for Flexible Automation Systems“ (CDL-Flex)

The Christian Doppler (CD) Research Association funds application-oriented basic research in laboratories with industry partners, who seek effective access to new knowledge. Partners in the CD-Lab CDL-Flex are institutes at the Vienna University of Technology in the areas of software technology and automation engineering as well as the industry partners logi.cals and Certicon in the application area of industrial automation systems.

The increasing complexity and flexibility of engineering processes for developing modern software-intensive systems require the systematic integration of software tools across engineering disciplines (such as mechanical, electrical, and software engineering). Technical and semantic gaps between software tools and engineering models in the development of automation systems hinder the correct and efficient communication across tool and system boundaries, leading to development delays and risks for system operation. The development of automation systems and also business software development is a group effort of engineering teams that are typically working at distributed locations. The integration of communication and collaboration tools into modern agile engineering workflows is therefore a particularly relevant goal.

In the CD-Lab CDL-Flex researchers from informatics and electrical engineering start from industrial use cases to develop approaches for

  1. technical integration of software tools and
  2. semantic integration of knowledge models across engineering disciplines.

This foundation enables quality management across engineering models and tools. We investigate concrete initial research scenarios to demonstrate challenges and advances:

  1. Change/version management across engineering models in several tools
  2. Engineering process automation, analysis, and reporting.
  3. Flexible integration of a range of SCADA systems and simulators that predict run-time events.
  4. Early defect detection by enabling the “end-to-end test” across engineering models: from the sensors in the field to the associated variables in control software programs.

A key result is a technical integration platform for software tools, the „Engineering Service Bus“, which will be made available to scientists and practitioners as Open Source Software. The Engineering Service Bus (EngSB) applies successful concepts of the Enterprise Service Bus in business software engineering to software tools in the engineering process. The integration approach is vendor neutral and allows the integration of existing tools in an engineering environment.

To ensure the relevance of the research in the CD-Lab for practice, we work with industry application partners who provide use cases and evaluate research prototypes developed in cooperation with the CD-Lab. As starting point we conduct workshops for interested practitioners starting in February 2010. For more detailed information on these workshops please contact Stefan Biffl.

To get an overview on the challenges of the lab and current research activities also check out the videos section