Industry prepares for the next ‘industrial revolution’

12 June 2013

Industry 4.0 was high on the agenda of lots of exhibitors at the Hannover Messe this year. Referred to by many as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ the concept of Industry 4.0 is to merge the virtual world with the real world, bringing IT and production closer together.

Horizontal integration, from product to production, is one of its major ambitions. Industry 4.0 now also forms the cornerstone of the German government’s high-tech strategy to secure the competitiveness of German industry.

Siemens used Hannover this year to showcase how it, and its customers, will meet today’s challenges and shape the new production age. Speaking at the event, Siegfried Russwurm, CEO of Siemens Industry Sector, said: “Never before has the world of manufacturing and production technology been changing as rapidly and fundamentally as today.

Although Russwurm believes that there is some way to go before Industry 4.0 becomes reality, Siemens is already laying the essential foundations for its implementation. A decisive role will be played by industrial software which allows the integration of product development and production, and consequently paves the way for the holistic optimisation of product development and production processes. “The increasing penetration of IT and the growing integration of all industrial technologies are taking place in evolutionary steps from today’s perspective. However, looking back, the completely IT-based interaction between human, product and machine could prove to be a real industrial revolution,” said Russwurm.”
Before the Hannover event CEE spoke with Eckard Eberle, CEO of Industrial Automation Systems, Siemens Industry Sector, to find out more about Siemens views on the fast changing industry needs.

“Industry is getting more and more complex,” he said. “Products need to get to market in ever shorter time frames, which requires the whole development and production phases to be shorter too. This means that the product and production design processes will need to more closely collaborate in the future.”

Explaining further, he said: “The information created in the design phase needs to be used to a greater degree throughout the production process.” One example which shows how this can work to good effect is at a Rolls Royce facility in the UK. Originally it took more than one week, from conclusion of a product design change, to create a work plan for the shop floor. “Siemens helped the company to more closely integrate its system with the company’s MES. This allows the company to create the data and change the design. The new data then goes straight to the shop floor via the MES system. Today they are able to make changes within two to three hours, allowing the company to speed up the production process.

“We have many examples where such integration is taking place. However, we expect that, within the next 10 to 20 years, the entire data flow will be seamless.”

Safety challenges
As the automation landscape continues to develop with Industry 4.0, companies also face new safety challenges. The increasing trend for machine networking requires automation to merge with the IT world. The challenge lies in standardising the needs of both worlds to form appropriate, practical solutions. New safety objectives include, for example, the protection of production data, product and plagiarism protection, know-how protection, access protection integrity protection, and remote maintenance.

“Pilz is playing its part in ensuring that safety is recognised as a critical success factor in Industry 4.0,” said Susanne Kunschert, director at Pilz GmbH & Co. “We are advocating a holistic approach to protection in both its forms – safety and security. We want to use our experience from the machinery safety and automation sectors to drive this important work forward.”

On the product side, Industry 4.0 presents challenges for the modularisation and distribution of control functions. Pilz is pursuing a modular, distributable approach to enable the benefits of a decentralised control structure to be enjoyed without the increased complexity that would normally result when programs are distributed on different control systems.

Pilz predicts that, in the future, intelligent sensors and actuators in distributed systems will increasingly assume the functions of control systems. Improved interaction between machine modules, as well as between man and machine is the aim. Safe motion controllers, which are interconnected synchronously and safely via real-time Ethernet, already support local control and evaluation functions. Pilz is moving forward in this direction with its intelligent camera systems for safe, three-dimensional zone monitoring and camera-based protection and measuring systems.

PC-based technology
As a pioneer of PC-based control technology, Beckhoff has pursued the convergence of IT and automation technoloiges from early on and has introducted corresponding solutions to the market, such as Scientific Automation and TwinCAT 3. PC-based control from Beckhoff now enables universal vertical, horizontal and cross-company integration and therefore, says the company, provides an ideal basis for future Industry 4.0 solutions.

WLAN solution for safety-critical applications
Commenting on the OpenBAR-R WLAN solution from Hirschmann Automation & Control, a Belden brand, Prof. Dr Peter Frohlich, director of business development at Belden EMEA said: “OpenBAT-R will open up a wealth of new possibilities for wireless communication in automation, power generation and other critical applications.” Traditionally users demanding such high availability would not have relied on WLAN according to IEEE 802.11. However, the transmission reliability offered by OpenBAT-R, which depends on the company’s Clear Space technology, which can improve the latency and jitter caused by retransmissions by a factor of more than 10, which means that even real-time and safety applications are now possible via WLAN. “For example, it can make the control and visualisation of large and topologically complex wind farms more reliable and more efficient,” said Frohlich.

The new ‘Open’ platform makes it possible to realise wireless solutions in areas where this was not possible until now and allows users to choose the right product variant for the best solution, so they need only pay for what is really needed. The Open-BAR devices have enhanced shock and vibration stability, making them extremely suitable for use in harsh and demanding industrial environments such as power transmission and distribution, where thanks to remote service access application: operators can access internal networks from outside and as a result reduce the risk of entering areas with high tensions and in mining applications where the system’s vibration resistance allows the use of wireless links for equipment on vehicles, so intelligent devices can be used for the optimisation of processes and reduced risk of accidents.

Open networking capabilities
Control Techniques, an Emerson Industrial Automation company demonstrated the open Ethernet capabilities its new Unidrive M family of drives and how this can deliver maximum synchronisation accuracy.

A demonstration on the stand showed an open system, in which a Unidrive M drive controlled the synchronisation between two Unimotor HD servomotors monitored by a standard IP network camera – all linked by an open IEEE 1588 Ethernet network.

The new drive family benefits from an open creation environment offering machine designers the widest choice of components and meaning that they are not restricted by closed systems. The system uses the the CODESYS programming platform with standard IEC 61131-3 programming languages and standard Ethernet for communication across drives, I/O, HMIs, PLCs and other industrial devices. Connectitivity with PROFINET RT, EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP/IP and EtherCAT devices, is also supported.

A lean strategy
A highlight on the Eaton stand was a demonstration of the implementation of its Lean Solution strategy, showing how connection and communication technology, automation and power management can be intelligently combined. Visitors to the stand were able to experience how they might implement savings and optimisation potential with their machines and plants. Lean power innovations incorporated in the model included PowerXL variable speed drives, and PKE motor starters which use the SmartWire-DT interface for improved monitoring and analysis.

SmartWire-DT is the company’s intelligent control panel wiring solution, designed to reduce panel complexity by consolidating complex circuit wiring into a single 8-pole cable. Connecting to Smartwire requires just crimping and connection to anywhere along the length of the wire.

For power distribution and power management, the company also showed new communication-enabled drawer units for motor control centres, which incorporate SmartWire-DT connection. This communication capability opens up the possibility of diagnostic functions that could simplify troubleshooting and reduce plant downtimes.

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