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How Machines With A Box Become Industry 4.0 Capable

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How Machines With A Box Become Industry 4.0 Capable
How Machines With A Box Become Industry 4.0 Capable

Video: How Machines With A Box Become Industry 4.0 Capable

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Video: Markus Lorenz: Industry 4.0: how intelligent machines will transform everything we know 2023, January

The vision of the networked factory is impressive. All machines in a system are networked with each other, they communicate, predict machine failures and react intelligently to change requests. But in many places the Industry 4.0 system is still far from reality, and that is partly due to the fact that older machines are also in use that do not yet have the necessary interfaces. In the worst case, the machines then work in isolation in the production hall.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technology and Image Analysis IOSB in Karlsruhe wants to have developed a solution for this. The plug-and-work cube is intended to ensure that existing machines and systems can be integrated into the production system. In the inconspicuous box there is a standard industrial PC with Windows as the operating system. The machine delivers all information about itself and its capabilities to the cube via a network cable.

As if you were installing a USB device on the PC

In the first step, an employee creates the self-description of the machine based on the XML data format Automation ML (Automation Markup Language). An assistance tool is to facilitate the structure of the self-description with an intuitive, graphical user interface. With the help of this model, the cube automatically generates the communication server for the exchange of information with other machines and the higher-level production control. The machine is integrated in the production system, it can communicate with other systems and can be addressed via the network.

"In principle, it is very similar to installing a USB device, such as a printer, on the office PC," explains project manager Dr. Olaf Sauer. The tools also register changes to the machine, for example when the configuration is updated. A change manager records the new configuration and forwards it to the communication server.

Also interesting for medium-sized companies and system integrators

"Data from the connected machines can also be stored on the plug-and-work cube," explains Sauer. "The employees in the plant management can see what's going on on the machine at any time and can recognize when problems arise."

The server in the cube works with the communication protocol OPC UA (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture). All data is encrypted for data security, and only authorized systems can connect to the system. Industrial partners such as Wibu Systems AG contribute their expertise to security technology.

Depending on the complexity of the machine data and parameters, up to 20 machines can be connected to a cube, according to the institute. In addition, the retrofit technology should not be reserved for large manufacturers alone. "Even medium-sized companies with only 20 machines can integrate these into the production control system," says Fraunhofer researcher Sauer. System integrators who build complete systems for their customers and hand them over turnkey could also benefit from the Cube. The technology is said to be ready for the market and is currently being used by two pilot customers. Plant operators can get a first impression at this year's Hanover Fair, where Fraunhofer IOSB wants to show a demo. (kj)

Hannover Messe 2017: Hall 2, Stand C22

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