Getting a grasp on Industry 4.0
2nd Quarter 2018, Other technologies
For Festo, Industry 4.0 is more than marketing hype, it is backed up by solid projects and products. The company is a member of the Industry 4.0 platform and is advising the German government in this regard. The company is also developing continuing education concepts and qualification measures for new career paths. In addition its Bionic Learning Network is carrying out visionary research into autonomous and self-controlling systems such as BionicANTs and an interactive, collaborative pneumatic 7-axis robot, the BionicCobot.
Industry 4.0 products
Festo is already delivering real automation technology products for the fourth industrial revolution: integrated drive packages, modular valve terminals with OPC-UA and IoT gateways, decentralised Codesys controls and autonomous mechatronic subsystems in IP20 or IP65. In addition, there are apps and cloud concepts. However, the top innovation in pneumatics is the most appealing: the Festo Motion Terminal. This is the first automation platform to be built as a cyber-physical system replacing up to 50 individual pneumatic functions.
Festo, in contrast to consulting companies, benefits from its ability to generate large amounts of user experience from pilot projects on its own production lines at The Scharnhausen Technology Plant. These include areas such as energy management and optimisation, as well as innovative one-piece-flow concepts. These employ standardised networking, mobile maintenance with tablet computers or automated, flexible test systems for individual products.
Festo’s new factory building in Ostfildern-Scharnhausen has been designed to meet the most exacting energy standards. For example it has been fitted with solar energy systems and employs heat recovery concepts. The objective was to make it possible to compare and network energy data with consumption data from all machines. As a result, Festo has equipped the factory with the OPC-UA communication standard and implemented a concept that enables the company to save one third of the energy consumed at the old factory in Esslingen-Berkheim.
Festo has equipped the new Scharnhausen Technology Plant with machines and systems that offer much greater flexibility and are oriented towards the concept of the SmartFactory. The result is that changes of batch are possible within only 13 seconds – much faster than on the previously used machines and systems, which required anything from half an hour to several hours to achieve the same effect. This also applies to exchanging individual stations and modular cells, something which can now be undertaken in one afternoon rather than several weeks or months.
Festo has equipped many machines with OPC-UA as the basis for an optimised Kanban and one-piece-flow concept. If a particular resource within a multi-stage production sequence fails and this results in a reduction in the production capacity, all the upstream process steps are automatically throttled back so as to optimise them to this bottleneck. This avoids the need for buffer stores which would otherwise have to be processed at great expense in the night shift or at weekends.
The introduction of tablet computers in maintenance has proven to be an ingenious step. Not only does the overall system effectiveness of all production systems increase, the level of workforce motivation is also boosted. In future, networking will optimise wealth creation with a return on investment inside six months.
In use with the customer
Customer applications in Germany and abroad reveal the innovative potential of Industry 4.0 worldwide. For example, Festo’s customers are consistently building modular machine concepts according to the Industry 4.0 approach for the automotive industry, and are saving weeks between the order and delivery, or are using IP65 controllers from Festo for automation without control cabinets, in order to offer lower prices.
Others are considering delegating parts of their preventative maintenance and spare parts business to Festo via cloud-based concepts to allow them to concentrate on their core business in line with lean management principles – at the same time as developing a new pricing model.
For more information contact Kershia Beharie, Festo, +27 (0)11 971 5509, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.festo.co.za