The 9th issue of DirectIndustry’s e-magazine, an SPS IPC Drives Special, focuses on innovations in automation. Our journalists roamed the aisles of the German fair in Nuremberg in search of coming developments in the industry — from magnetic levitation to mass customization. Our reports also show how big data is ruling the connected factories of tomorrow.
Watch our exclusive report. Will magnetic levitation bring about a revolution in the factory of tomorrow?
At SPS, automation manufacturer Festo presented its supraconductivity technology for production lines. Their SupraCarrier could be commercially launched in 5 years for handling and conveying applications. Yet,...
Watch our exclusive report. Will magnetic levitation bring about a revolution in the factory of tomorrow?
At SPS, automation manufacturer Festo presented its supraconductivity technology for production lines. Their SupraCarrier could be commercially launched in 5 years for handling and conveying applications. Yet, levitation in the factory is no longer viewed as science fiction. The factory of today is already using other contactless solutions.
Hicham Dhouibi, Industrial Expert at DirectIndustry, contributed to this report.
Watch our exclusive report. Is the era of mass customisation upon us?
Long seen as a promising concept, the process that combines mass production and personalization, is now effective in the factory. At SPS in Nüremberg, Siemens showcased a production line that turns out customized products at the same time.
As customized mass production also affects the way machines are built, B&R presented a software that allows users to add functionalities according to their requirements.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 are reshaping the factory floor in what industry leaders hail as smart manufacturing. This new framework fills the gaps in factories and supply chains that were previously considered “integrated,” using a greater number of always-on sensors. Embedded in...
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 are reshaping the factory floor in what industry leaders hail as smart manufacturing. This new framework fills the gaps in factories and supply chains that were previously considered “integrated,” using a greater number of always-on sensors. Embedded in physical assets that communicate both wired and wirelessly with networks, they feed greater intelligence to systems and users, both onsite and remote, for monitoring, control, planning and optimization of manufacturing processes.
The technologies employed include cloud computing, big data analytics, mobile technology and product lifecycle management (PLM) software. The rise in data collection and the ability to manage it now promises synergistic benefits: new levels of workforce efficiency; faster time to market; lower total cost of ownership; greater asset utilization and up time; greater flexibility and waste reduction.
The Big 5
Many of the tools of the smart manufacturing revolution “have been [in existence] for a long time,” says Georg Kube, global vice president at SAP. “However, they were cumbersome, expensive and based on individual hacks.” Now, with communication, cheap low-power computing/sensing and cloud computing are “suddenly evolving rather quickly.”
Kube cites five key elements of connectivity that characterize smart manufacturing:
shop-floor-to-top-floor vertical integration,
end-to-end horizontal integration,
connectivity with suppliers,
connectivity with supply chain partners,
and connectivity with consumers.
Source: LNS Research
In collaboration with Festo Didactic and Elster Kromschröder, SAP creates an Open Integrated Factory Showcase. The demo-scale assembly line uses fully automated conveyors, machines and other work cells including an oven, drill and assembly robot configured to produce two completely different products—a remote control, and components for smart meters. It uses SAP software for vertically integrated cloud-based production planning and end-to-end shop-floor manufacturing execution. RFID tags on work pieces wirelessly instruct each machine exactly how to grind or drill as the pieces move down the line. For SAP, such integration enables greater efficiency and data visibility, lower costs through the elimination of line controllers and greater flexibility to rapidly modify production sequences from large to very small lot sizes.
Manufacturing in the Dark
From demo-scale to reality, the prospect of lights-out manufacturing is closer to becoming true. Siemens’ Amberg Electronics Plant in Bavaria ships 15 million SIMATIC programmable controllers a year, one each second that the plant is running. Human hands touch the product only when bare printed circuit boards are placed on the assembly line.
GE’s “Brilliant” Concept
GE started years ago to design smart factories like its new $73 million gas turbine plant in Greenville, South Carolina, slated for completion later this year. Like the SAP demo, GE says the factory “talks to itself” using IIoT technologies. In October, the company announced it will sell a packaged version of its new Brilliant Manufacturing software suite, an upgrade on its Proficy factory automation system to help “customers like Procter & Gamble make things more efficiently.” It includes GE’s new Predix platform for IIoT connectivity, Proficy Historian and SmartSignal analytics. Rockwell Automation Like-minded efforts are proliferating from Rockwell Automation’s Connected Enterprise to Emerson Process Management.
The New ‘Store it All’ Database Infrastructure
Big data–driven analytics is indispensable for optimizing tomorrow’s manufacturing enterprises. Instead of choosing data collection priorities, Rich Carpenter, chief of strategy for GE Intelligent Platforms, advises manufacturers to “collect it all, store it all, and your data analytics will improve over time.” He adds data scientists constantly pore over historical data to find new patterns among assets “we didn’t know existed, and correlating them to events that we want to avoid in order to optimize our processes.” The dataset goes beyond manufacturing equipment to include business, economic and even climate trends that can influence operations.
To glean the benefits of big data analytics, the “bureaucracy” of automation systems will become more “compressed,” says Dan Miklovic, principal analyst with LNS Research.“If you have a sensor that needs to talk to let the ERP system knows what’s being consumed, that message won’t have to pass from sensor to PLC to MES to ERP—the sensor can just publish that information directly,” says Miklovic. “So when a spark plug is installed in an engine in a just-in-time environment, the bar code scans for that plug and the engine are immediately available in the cloud for anybody that needs it.”
Will the smart factory eliminate all labor? For Suzanne Lee, Ph.D., director of strategic marketing with Siemens, “Smart Factory means embracing modernization. The good news is, it doesn’t have to happen all at once. An incremental approach—starting with one line in a factory—is a great way to move forward. The key is to have a long-term migration and innovation program in place when you start.”
The Internet of Things is already there and brings new challenges. Long time ignored or minimized, security is now a concern throughout the industry. Driven by electronic and computing industries, the IoT Security Foundation was created last September in the UK and gathers various members including cybersecurity technology specialists and international companies such as IBM or British Telecom.
Its mission: help companies better secure their connected equipment from the smallest sensor to the bigger level. Among the major leads: isolation of the components’ softwares, implementation of cryptographic, unicity of the devices.
DirectIndustry e-magazine interviewed Haydn Povey from the Executive Steering Board. He explains how the sector should face the “storm that is coming.”
Executive Steering Board
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Why an IoT Security Foundation? Does this mean that securing the IoT has become crucial?
Haydn Povey: The Foundation is here to help implement good practices. Security is now the n°1 concern in the industry. Cyberwar is unfortunately a reality today. Nations are infecting each other’s’ critical infrastructures and industrial systems. Attacks can happen everywhere. Companies assume that their systems might be compromised. We have to protect every connected device, from the smallest sensors to the biggest level.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Do you mean that with IoT the threat has changed?
Haydn Povey: Hacking is no longer about loss of information. Hacking a PC is annoying but we can handle it. Hacking the IoT is worse. We don’t deal with just data anymore, we deal with critical systems with impact on the real world. Nuclear power stations, energy grids, heating systems are some of the infrastructures that can been attacked with terrible consequences such as people dying or billions of dollars of damages. In the automotive industry, some carmakers did not secure the entry control unit that upgrades the cars. Hackers were able to change the settings of the acceleration!
DirectIndustry e-magazine: How can the industry avoid this?
Haydn Povey: First, there needs to be better separation of components between the software that runs the device and the software that does the communications. So if the communications is compromised, the device still works.
We also need to build better IoT infrastructures to ensure that attacked devices are unique. So if someone breaks into a light bulb or a heating system, it’s just that one and not all. This is not necessarily new technology but that can make systems more robust.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What about cryptography?
Haydn Povey: You reduce the failure on your system when you introduce a set of keys. But cryptography is only as good as its implementation. Making sure that all the systems work together properly requires asymmetric encryption. ECC (Elliptic curve cryptography) and RSA are two strong asymmetric algorithms. But people do not implement them well enough.
AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) is a good encryption technology. It’s a simple but strong algorithm. Even if the hacker has all the information on a system and the physical device in its hands, the only thing he won’t get is the key. And without the key, he can’t do anything.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What other shield do you recommend?
Haydn Povey: Imagination Technologies have recently introduced their Omni-Shield technology which allows for better isolation of devices. ARM and their mbed OS software offers better security for microcontrollers. Of course, you need to have people building the right chips, systems and software. It’s improving a lot and we might see more announcements around that over the next months.
Visitors of the Datalogic booth at the SPS IPC Drives in Nuremberg could see the market’s most compact high performance fiber laser marker in action, which promises to render adhesive labels passé.
Marking the Automotive Industry
One touch of his smartphone, and product manager Lorenzo Bassi gets the UniQ going: The camera catches the exact position of the badge, transfers the data to the laser and seconds later the visitor receives their brand new name tag. “Do you see the difference?” asks Bassi, and points to another laser marker at the booth. It is obvious; the UniQ is much smaller and more compact, measuring only 49.7 x 18.3 x 15 centimeters. “The UniQ is the first all-in-one fiber laser marker in the market,” explains the product manager. “Neither an external controller nor external power supply is necessary. Everything is included in the compact housing. This makes it ideal for the use in different industries.”
The main field of application of the UniQ is the automotive industry, where almost any component requires laser marking. The laser’s ability to create highly accurate bar codes, QR codes or product numbers without harming the product also makes it highly suitable for use on medical devices. It is perfect for the electronic industry “or any other application where high precision and direct part marking is demanded,” explains Bassi.
An Automation Award Nominee
No matter which industry applies the UniQ, the compact fiber laser marker can easily be implemented into an existing assembly line. It is suited to rough surroundings due to the robust components with IP54 class protection. Datalogic has applied for a patent for this built-in cooling solution, and it’s no wonder that this innovation receives attention in the automation industry: It was nominated for the Automation Award 2015 in the category of standard components and sensor technology.
However, the innovators from Datalogic also brought other attention-catching industry novelties to southern Germany. Among them was the new version of their industrial scanner series, the PowerScan 9500 DPM-Evo. Its black and yellow exterior indicates at first glance that it is designed for use in robust and outdoor conditions, and it can even withstand a fall from a height of almost 2 meters. “We also improved the power of the wireless connection,” explains product manager Stefano Vassura. This implies that up to 32 people, who might be, for example, scanning products in a warehouse, can all be connected to the same base station.
Modular production sites, like smart factories, are on the verge of commercial viability. These intelligent factories consist of independent stations that...
Modular production sites, like smart factories, are on the verge of commercial viability. These intelligent factories consist of independent stations that communicate with each other and with the product via standardized interfaces. The underlying concept is “plug and produce.”
Plug & Produce
“Our prototype of tomorrow’s factory of things is worldwide unique and the first of this dimension,” explains Detlef Zühlke, chairman of the technology initiative SmartFactoryKL.
It consists of nine modules, each manufactured and provided by a different partner company:
and a manual workstation.
The single modules can be connected instantly and easily “due to the fact that the modules use the same IT standards, like Ethernet, TCP/IP and OPC UA, which enable their interaction,” says Zühlke. He is optimistic that the final gap from vision to using them in reality will be bridged in 2016. However, he does not believe that complex products such as cars will be produced with complete automation within the next 10 years.
A 10-m.-Long Production Site at SPS
Soap dispensers and torches have already been produced successfully. The latest product line includes business card cases with either USB sticks or bottle openers included. To switch between the two productions, a change of the smart factory’s models is necessary. How this works, was demonstrated at the SPS IPC Drives in Nuremberg, where the nearly 10-meter-long unique production site was mounted.
“Each product contains a digital brain in form of an RFID chip that it receives at the beginning of the production process. Machine and product can communicate with each other without the need of human interaction,” says Zühlke. As the Industry 4.0 approach extends the Internet of Things (IoT) onto production sites, “the aim is to support producing companies in adapting more flexibly and quicker to shorter product lifecycles. And to help them reduce dependencies of one sole producer.”
A Test Bed Facility in Germany
Zühlke has been preparing the intelligent factory of the future for ten years with a test bed facility in Kaiserslautern in southern Germany. First supported by only seven industrial partners, the number has risen to 40 today. Among those are international heavyweights such as Cisco and IBM. Their common aim: fostering the implementation of the fourth industrial revolution. It is based on cyber-physical systems and follows mechanization, mass production and automation, which are crucial as the industrial revolution progresses.
The nonprofit organization PLCopen answers the question of how to bridge the gap between virtual and physical worlds with its PLCopen XML interface—a...
The nonprofit organization PLCopen answers the question of how to bridge the gap between virtual and physical worlds with its PLCopen XML interface—a conversion from the simulation of a complete plant to the application programs for this plant. How does it work? It generates a code, exports and shares it, so that another tool can import it, which enables the user to go from one development tool to another.
Communication and Information are the Key Words
Eelco van der Wal, managing director of PLCopen, headquartered in the Netherlands, explains: “With the XML approach, relevant information for automated control is subtracted from the virtual world. In the end, Industry 4.0 is about mass customization. Clients want their product to be different but still with the same quality and price. Realizing this requires information and communication that we provide with our solutions.”
Fundamental work at PLCopen is about communication and information. Together with the OPC Foundation, a technology called OPC United Architecture (OPC UA) is used. It specifies communication from an OPC UA client to an OPC UA server via the creation of an application session over a secure channel. “In the end, it is all about a communication environment. Intelligent products, which tell machines about their features via RFID chips or QR codes, as well as the machine-to-machine communication, are the aim,” says van der Wal. Cameras inside the machines can read the codes attached to the products in order to obtain the information on how to process them.
Developing Open Source Specifications
These communications processes are vital for the implementation of Industry 4.0, which will establish substantial progress in industrial automation: smart manufacturing sites with intelligent products, flexible adaption to changing environments and a rising number of product features—to name some of them. In this process, the complexity of required software increases exponentially and software specifications have gained utmost importance to enable the required machine-to-machine and product-to-machine communication.
“Since software development costs for producing systems have been rising significantly throughout the past 40 years, it is PLCopen’s aim to bring and keep them down by developing open source specifications anybody around the globe can use,” says van der Wal. To cover all the different steps of an intelligent production process, several technical committees work together.
PLCopen also provides the basis for the integration of logic, motion and safety in order to provide higher efficiency in automation via structuring, decomposing and reusing knowledge. The framework is given by the international IEC 61131-3 standard. “Efficiency is about improved learning. Today there is one motion control dialect, earlier there were hundreds,” explains van der Wal.