We are currently at the threshold to what is being referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.
“Smart Factory” is the name of a research concept where products will soon be expected to be able to communicate and act autonomously with one other in intelligently networked production processes. As Partner in Industrial Connectivity, Weidmüller is already working and developing the next generation of individual components, as well as planning complete production facilities for the factory of the future, in conjunction with leading industrial and research partners.
Sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Research and Development, innovations for intelligent, networked production systems are being developed as part of the East-Westphalia-Lippe leading-edge cluster “it’s OWL”.
As an “Internet of Things” initiative, Weidmüller, together with its research partners, the universities of Paderborn and Bielefeld, as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology, has developed a solution for the self-optimisation of stamping-bending machines, in which irregularities in the production processes are automatically corrected.
„it‘s owl“ – Projekt InnovIIT
In co-operation with the Institute for Industrial Information Technology (inIT), Weidmüller develops a model-based design method for decentralised automation components in manufacturing facilities, aiming to make manufacturing processes more flexible and efficient.
For the innovative production processes of the future to be successful, all the components used have to meet certain criteria. Owing to the higher number of network subscribers, the safety requirements for communication are somewhat higher, making it imperative that IPv6 capable Industrial Ethernet devices be used. The switches and routers from our practical Industrial Ethernet portfolio are already geared to this technology. Another example of how we can steer our products into the future is the integration of Ethernet interfaces with autonomous intelligence. In this way we open the possibility of not only relaying local information – from sensors and actuators, for example – but also of directly processing this information on site. Thus, local activities can be triggered, or even process decisions made, in almost real-time.
So whats your view on the future of factory automation? Is this the end of the industrial revolution or will we see further iterations over the coming decades? Drop us a line and share your views with us.