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From vision to reality: cyber physical systems and factories

19 December 2016

Festo remains at the forefront of Industry 4.0 – from learning to initial applications, from products and solutions to its revolutionary research on BionicANTs. It is helping develop ground-breaking, forward-looking solutions and helping to significantly improve productivity.

Digitalisation offers increasingly better ways of processing data from production systems in real time and using it to increase plant efficiency and flexibility. However, the rapid rise in the quantity of data and network complexity requires the use of products that help make the flow of data easier to plan and manage – both at production level and for the training and development of skilled workers. 

It is important to employ components and network technologies that are compatible with the relevant interfaces to ensure the overall result is a stable IT and production system which is able to deliver the promised efficiency increases. Skilled workers from both areas – namely operating and optimising facilities and developing intelligent components – must be taught to develop a deep understanding of the structure and programming of digital facility networks for this purpose.

CP Factory and SmartFactory
Festo’s CP (Cyber Physical) Factory learning and research platform provides higher education institutes and companies with access to the technology and applications of Industry 4.0. The platform demonstrates the future of the production environment in a locally-controlled intelligent network. Some of the principles utilise information gained from the SmartFactoryKL project which is a manufacturer-independent demonstration and research platform designed to prepare the way for the intelligent factory of the future. The project includes innovative factory systems based around Industry 4.0. 

Festo was one of the initial SmartFactoryKL partners and has been able to transfer aspects of its research and learning to its own training platform CP Factory at Festo Didactic. The company has also utilised its learnings in its own valve production lines which utilise OPC UA as a communication backbone and feature modular machine module designs with decentralised intelligence. 

Decentralised intelligence, rapid availability and analysis of relevant data are essential prerequisites for the success of Industry 4.0 – for more individuality and flexibility, as well as greater system availability to enable increased productivity. Cyber-physical systems will form the basis for this future reality. 

Modularity, energy efficiency and the use of OPC UA as a communication standard are other features of Industry 4.0, and these are already being implemented by Festo in decentralised automation solutions and mechatronic subsystems which has enabled the company to create, for example, a flexible loading module for end of line packaging. The company is able to offer answers to key questions about Industry 4.0, especially with regard to dynamic loading processes with fast format changeovers.

Lean and intelligent
The application is controlled by a Festo CODESYS controller CPX-CEC with IP65/67 protection for compact on-site installation – without a control cabinet, neatly integrated into the system. All fieldbuses or Industrial Ethernet, as well as the Industry 4.0 OPC UA standard, are available as interfaces. Festo can provide users with additional support in the form of reliable services – from engineering and commissioning right up to system operation with software tools, online offerings and advice.

Generating more data is only of value if you can turn this into usable and actionable information. Employees in industry, as well as students at vocational colleges and universities, therefore need to be trained specifically for Industry 4.0. The CP Factory from Festo Didactic enables this.


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