Digitalisation – Path To A New World

Digitalisation – Path To A New World
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In the age of digitalisation, the automation landscape of the classic pyramid is changing. This change is being accompanied by new products, cloud services and apps. Article by Festo.

The international drivers of Industry 4.0 work in close collaboration. The Industry 4.0 platform, through which 300 participants from 150 organisations promote digitalisation in Germany, the “Alliance Industriedu Futur” in France, “Piano Impresa 4.0” in Italy, the Industrial Internet Consortium in the USA, IMSA, the equivalent of the German Reference Architecture Model Industrie 4.0 (RAMI 4.0) in China, and the Robot Revolution Initiative in Japan – all share the common goal of establishing networks and internationally recognised standards on the road towards the production of the future.

 

The Importance Of Data Security

Data is the oil of the 21st century, and storing and processing it creates added value. Well known Internet giants make a living from the data of their users by using their information to develop business models. A machine with security measures isn’t any faster or more efficient than an unprotected machine. This is why the issue of IT security has often taken a back seat. However, data scandals have highlighted the critical importance of confidentiality and data security.

In the machine building sector, data security is a major contributor to business success and future revenues therefore depend on it. In the age of Industry 4.0 and digitalisation, a company that cannot verifiably demonstrate its security credentials will have difficulty obtaining orders, credit and insurance. The German network platform Industry 4.0, together with its international partner networks, is therefore working on this area too.

Thanks to big data analytics, data produced using and by machines can be systematically evaluated on a large scale. Smart analysis leads to greater efficiency, a competitive edge and new business models. But can the “analogue” world keep pace with the fast-moving developments in a digitised industry? The possibilities of smart data often only become apparent when combined companywide.

Competitors can become partners and partners can become competitors. Questions about data sovereignty as well as the scope and the permissibility of partnerships – in other words, questions about market power and competition law – must be reviewed and possibly regulated differently in the age of Industry 4.0.

 

Digital Images

The administration shell is the interface between the physical object (asset) and Industry 4.0 communication. Every relevant asset has its own administration shell, essentially its own digital image, so that it can be integrated into networked Industry 4.0 production. For example, the administration shell of a drilling machine gives the real asset a unique ID. This virtual identity thus represents the asset as a separate Internet presence.

This virtual ID acts as a standardised communication interface in the network and allows access to all information about the object as well as execution of the command “Drill a hole with a diameter of 3.5mm and a depth of 4mm at position 4”, for example. The real object, such as a drilling machine, a component or a product together with its administration shell form the Industry 4.0 component. The virtual IT world and the real world of production are therefore increasingly converging.

In the age of digitalisation, the automation landscape of the classic pyramid is changing. This change is being accompanied by new products, cloud services and apps as well as new online shops with comprehensive, integrated engineering concepts. This will ensure that, in the medium term, data will be available seamlessly and globally on all user devices. Industry 4.0 relies on fully networked, adaptive production through intelligent products with so-called embedded functions – the cyber-physical systems. These products can be integrated into IoT or cloud environments such as Siemens MindSphere, Rockwell Factory Talk or the Festo Cloud.

 

Goals Of Future Production

Production systems will become digitally networked throughout. This will be achieved when intelligent, self-regulating and self-controlling plug-and-produce components make their own way through a production process. Virtual images of machines and systems will make virtual commissioning and reconfiguration easier. Highly flexible production plants make manufacturing batch sizes of 1 more economical. Speedily balanced workloads in a production network improve delivery performance. Prompt adjustment to the orders in hand ensures the efficient use of resources. Comprehensive condition monitoring helps to avoid downtime and optimises maintenance procedures as well as mobile maintenance.

MindSphere is a cloud-based, open IoT operating system from Siemens with which machines and physical infrastructure can be connected to the digital world. This enables huge data volumes from countless smart devices to be used. Festo was the first partner in the MindSphere initiative to integrate a smart field device, the energy efficiency module MSE6-E2M, into the MindSphere via the IoT gateway CPX-IOT in the factory environment.

This integration opened up key aspects such as encrypted connection to the cloud for easy commissioning, MindSphere via MindConnect LIB, and field level via OPC UA. Such Industry 4.0 scenarios provide an opportunity to analyse and above all combine various data in MindSphere. Examples include basic data and insights such as real air consumption and pressure indication in real time, pattern recognition for consumption profiles, leakage and selectable tolerance windows for error messages.

 

Smart Factory

Festo’s newest production plants, such as the Scharnhausen Technology Plant, were built to pave the way for Industry 4.0. The Scharnhausen Technology Plant manufactures valves, valve terminals and electronics. It was designed from the outset as a future-proof, adaptable factory for harnessing and implementing ideas from the digital environment. Not only is it a smart factory, it will also in future be a fully networked factory. It should be possible to produce millions of units every year, but in flexible batch sizes from 10 to 10,000.

 

Mobile Maintenance

An example of the digitalisation approach at the plant is the porting of all the data for a machine, such as plans, bills of materials, spare parts and repair instructions, to mobile devices and linking them up to a central computer. This allows onsite maintenance technicians to view, analyse and prioritise all the alarms, and to work their way efficiently from one machine to the next. They can also consult experts online, exchange photos, view stocks of spare parts, and directly pick or order stock – all paperlessly.

Error messages are entered directly in a digital log. “This log is like the machine’s medical record,” explains Jacob Decker, innovation management expert in the Plant Engineering department of the Scharnhausen Technology Plant. The rollout of the project to all other plants is currently underway. The return on investment takes less than six months – a perfect example of how quickly digitalisation pays.

Plan maintenance is a time-consuming process, which, astonishingly, is for the most part still documented using pen and paper. Smartenance, the digital maintenance manager for production supervisors and machine operators, is the first exclusively digital product from Festo. It is available to download as a mobile app for smartphones and tablets in the Apple and Google app stores. The dashboard can simply be opened in a web browser. Smartenance enables end customers to plan, monitor and evaluate system maintenance. It eliminates many processes and the need for coordination.

 

Training 4.0

The path to the digital future is a journey into an uncertain future for many workers, engineers, IT specialists and managers. Many workers fear losing their jobs as a result of digitalisation and artificial intelligence. There is a noticeable blurring of the lines between IT, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Festo Didactic therefore offers skills development programmes with turnkey training factories, laboratory facilities, innovative training systems, e-learning and training programmes to make people fit for the fourth industrial revolution.

 

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