An Ontological Approach to Representing the Product Life Cycle

Applied ontology 14 (2):1-19 (2019)
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The ability to access and share data is key to optimizing and streamlining any industrial production process. Unfortunately, the manufacturing industry is stymied by a lack of interoperability among the systems by which data are produced and managed, and this is true both within and across organizations. In this paper, we describe our work to address this problem through the creation of a suite of modular ontologies representing the product life cycle and its successive phases, from design to end of life. We call this suite the Product Life Cycle (PLC) Ontologies. The suite extends proximately from The Common Core Ontologies (CCO) used widely in defense and intelligence circles, and ultimately from the Basic Formal Ontology (BFO), which serves as top level ontology for the CCO and for some 300 further ontologies. The PLC Ontologies were developed together, but they have been factored to cover particular domains such as design, manufacturing processes, and tools. We argue that these ontologies, when used together with standard public domain alignment and browsing tools created within the context of the Semantic Web, may offer a low-cost approach to solving increasingly costly problems of data management in the manufacturing industry.

Author Profiles

J. Neil Otte
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Barry Smith
University at Buffalo


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