Purpose of the HORSE framework

The European manufacturing industry needs to embrace the Industry 4.0 revolution in order to remain globally competitive. Advanced technologies such as collaborative robots, automated guided vehicles, augmented reality support and smart devices are recognised to facilitite this objective. Although this is relatively straightforward for big industry, the SMEs face a number of difficulties in the process, mainly the lack of expertise, highly qualified workforce and resources needed to refurbish the whole business in one step. Moreover, there is still some reluctance present, as the benefits of digitizing the business are not always immediately clear and visible. Finally, digitization encompasses much more than just buying and setting up an industrial robot. Technologies need to be integrated into the shopfloor in a seamless way. HORSE framework has been deployed in 10 manufacturing plants across Europe during HORSE project.

In manufacturing, there are typically situations with rather fragmented automated support for manufacturing processes and activities (if available at all). Different systems may be in place for setting up and executing manufacturing batches, allocating tasks to human workers in manufacturing, supervising product flows, and controlling robotic solutions where these are used. Where robots are not used, availability of integrated software solutions may be one of the problems. This leads to sub-optimal situations with little integration between high-level processes (on the factory level) and low-level activities (at the work cell level) on the one hand, and little integration between the activities of human workers and robots on the other hand, or even the absence of robotic solutions where these could bring big benefits. Consequently, there is lack of flexibility in the assignment of workers and robots, unnecessary waiting times in production, idling robots, inefficient transfer of information between the dispersed systems, and ineffective, ad-hoc handling of exceptions in the manufacturing process (such as a malfunctioning work cell).

The HORSE Framework answers to those problems. HORSE Framework is built on RAMI architecture specification [3] and is aligned with Internet of Things architecture and concepts.  It proposes a reference architecture in the context of a cyber-physical system as a blueprint for positioning and interconnecting technologies. It facilitates advanced, process-oriented hybrid manufacturing. Process-oriented hybrid manufacturing is an approach to manufacturing that seamlessly integrates human and robotic actors in vertical manufacturing cells that are horizontally coupled in end-to-end manufacturing processes. For more details of the HORSE framework please refer to D2.2  whch defines the HORSE architecture.. 

Relation to RAMI 4.0

A graphical overview of the RAMI 4.0 model is shown in Figure below. This model is a reference framework in the context of Industry 4.0


Figure 1: The Reference Architecture Model for Industry 4.0 

As shown in Figure 1, RAMI4.0 labels its three dimensions as layers, life cycle & value stream and hierarchy levels. We explain them briefly below.

  • The life cycle & value stream dimension “represents the lifetime of an asset and the value-added process”. This axis distinguishes between the type and instance of the factory and its elements, for example the digital design of a product and its instantiation as a manufactured product.
  • The hierarchy levels dimension is used to “assign functional models to specific levels” of an enterprise. This axis uses aggregation to establish enterprise levels, ranging from the connected world (i.e., networks of manufacturing organizations in their eco-systems) via stations (manufacturing work cells) to devices and products. This dimension is related to the IEC manufacturing hierarchy standard discussed in (Link to Get Started with HORSE framework). The ‘Connected world’ is introduced above ‘enterprise’ to emphasise the importance of supply chain networks. Additionally, lower levels are added to elaborate the control systems and equipment typically encountered in factories.
  • The layers dimension “represents the information that is relevant to the role of an asset”. It covers the business-to-technology spectrum by relating different aspects of an asset to layers of the enterprise architecture.


Figure 2: HORSE architecture coverage of RAMI 4.0 

Figure 2, presents how HORSE architecture aligns with RAMI 4.0 n (by the added boxes in the figure). This can be summarized as follows:

  • In the life cycle & value stream dimension, the HORSE architecture mainly aims at the actual production processes of manufactured goods, as well as the design of these processes.
  • in the hierarchy levels dimension, the HORSE architecture focuses on work centers (production lines or combinations of production lines), work stations (manufacturing cells) and control devices. The architecture provides embedding at the enterprise level, but does not provide detailed architecture support for this.
  • In the layers dimension, the architecture focuses on the functional to integration spectrum. The HORSE project pays attention to business aspects, but this is not part of the system architecture design (but of the explotiation model design). 

Architectural Approach

The integration of a number of cyber and physical components proved that HORSE framework is a complex one. Therefore, the approach was based on two frameworks:

  • The 4+1 software engineering framework allowed to deal with the various views of stakeholders and their sequencing in time.[1]
  • a 5 -aspect framework for the design of busines information systems is used to deal with the set of enterprise information aspects [2]

Application of the Kruchten 4+1 model

Following the Kruchten 4+1 model, HORSE framework was developed four main views:

The logical view specifies the functional structure of the system under design focusing on the end-user functionality of the system, its decomposition into functional modules and non-functional characteristics that are important to end users.

The physical view specifies the kinds of software and hardware that will actually run in concrete scenarios.  

The development and process views covered the development of the system components, that were developed and integrated in the HORSE prototype system.

Scenarios of the three HORSE pilot factories were developed to support the architecture. Further scenarios were added during the HORSE 7 additional factories which adopted and deployed the framework. Scenarios are presented in HORSE factories.

[1] P. Kruchten, “Architectural Blueprints – The “4+1” View Model of Software Architecture,” in IEEE Software, 12(6), pp. 42–50, 1995, doi:10.1109/52.469759.

[2] J. Truijens, A. Oosterhaven, R. Maes, H. Jägers, and F. van Iersel, “Informatie-Infrastructuur: een Instrument voor het Management. Kluwer Bedrijfswetenschappen”, (in Dutch) 1990.

[3] M. Hankel, and B. Rexroth, “The Reference Architectural Model Industrie 4.0 (RAMI 4.0),” German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 2015.