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Demonstrating Industry 4.0 concepts

09 November 2015

Following the introduction of its modular Industry 4.0 system concept in 2014, SmartFactory KL introduced a multi-vendor technology initiative at Hannover this year, with the goal of more quickly realising the requirements of Industry 4.0 – which will demand more flexible and adaptable production lines. Suzanne Gill reports.

The creation of modular production lines is placing new demands on infrastructure, data communications and power supplies. Traditional fixed-wire connectivity solutions are not suitable for the flexible production lines needed to make Industry 4.0 a reality and this prompted SmartFactory KL, in association with automation vendors, to develop a manufacturer-independent Industry 4.0 demonstrator system.

The current working model of the demonstrator consists of nine separate,  but interconnected, units – a storage module, engraving, production, forcefitting, a robot module, laser marking, quality control, a weighing module and a manual workstation.

A series of infrastructure boxes, connected in series, which provide the backbone of the system, have also been produced by individual manufacturers for the demonstrator, all created to a set of very strict standards set by SmartFactory KL.

An infrastructure box developed by TE Connectivity provides energy efficiency via a standardised interface and continuously monitors the modules.  Data communication with the control system takes place via a Cisco Industrial Ethernet switch which is also integrated into the box.

Standardised connections
The HARTING Technology Group has created another infrastructure box which connects machines and automation modules and enables data exchange via OPC UA. Its plugin connectors ensure the safe and standardised connection of data, signals and power for both the automation modules and the backbone.

Innovative networking
Belden/Hirschmann and Weidmu¨ller have together created an infrastructure box for fast data transmission, continuous energy supply and flexible and secure integration. Hirschmann communication modules enable networking between control, actuator and sensor technologies while switches deliver efficient communication and multi-port firewalls implement the latest security and firewall functions.  Integrated energy measurement gives this infrastructure box a high level of flexibility and transparency.

Business processes
Increased flexibility in manufacturing – to batch sizes down to a single unit – will also place high requirements on business processes and this has also been considered as part of the SmartFactory KL Industry 4.0 demonstrator.

In the future, the planning process will be capable of efficiently integrating decentralised sub-projects. An integrated ERP system from proALPHA keeps the potentially more complex processes efficient and transparent in the demonstrator and this solution is able to successfully integrate the various levels of the classic automation pyramid.

Other key considerations include operational excellence, transparency in real time and forward-looking maintenance and quality assurance. These issues are handled by means of a standardised and flexible production control station. Operational and product data from the production modules is collected via protocols such as OPC UA, enriched and stored in a data historian in a structured manner.

Analytical results can then be used to help prevent bottlenecks, waste, rectification and down times.  The central .NET Client and the OPC UA information model of the demonstrator were developed using the OPC UA .NET Client Development Toolkit from Softing, who also supported the development with OPC UA training.

After the individual modules have started up and the first status data has been transmitted to the information model, the .NET Client initially detects the system topology. As soon as it is assigned the corresponding job by the ERP system, it initiates the production process and, by means of the information model, tracks the module and the processing step in which the respective product is located within the system.

Information in the OPC UA information model can be continuously updated enabling a ‘plug & produce’ exchange between the modules as well as the flexible design of the system for production oriented toward a batch size of one.

SmartFactory KL will be using the forthcoming SPS/IPC/Drives event in Nuremberg at the end of November to demonstrate and discuss the latest pieces of its Industry 4.0 puzzle and additions to the demonstrator project. In Hall 3A at the event there will be a variety of exhibition areas, joint stands and presentations focusing on the subject of Industry 4.0.

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