07. June 2017
Industry 4.0 is an absolute trend topic. After the mechanization, the mass production and computers, we now face the fourth major industrial revolution. But, the interaction of cyber-physical systems is mostly still a more or less vague concept. Solutions for “Industry 4.0” and their effects on related business fields are often unclear.
Thomas Eglof, Product Manager with the enclosure manufacturer häwa in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, demonstrates this concept with a pizza order, placed on the way home by smart phone via voice control function. If the software chooses the nearest pizza restaurant, knows about the user's preferences and diet plans, and automatically selects the suitable pizza toppings according to this information, this has a lot to do with Industry 4.0.
Optimization of the value-added chain
A sheet steel cabinet can also be “Industry 4.0 ready”, Eglof explains. “The sheet steel cabinet will certainly remain an empty enclosure, which will be equipped at the customer's site, but häwa's products are designed to help accommodate and protect the intelligent and digitally networked system components required for the realization of a customized production line. They will help to optimize the entire value-added chain.“
häwa control cabinets will be ready to meet the Industry 4.0 requirements. “A cabinet remains a cabinet, but we are optimizing our products in a way that they can also be used in a network environment,” states Thomas Eglof. For example, it is necessary to provide enough space for sensors or to adapt the air conditioning system to an increased energy flow inside of the cabinet. The cabinet must also be sealed to protect the highly sensitive technology from dust, water, drafts or vandalism; also increased safety requirements (e.g. in explosion-proof areas) have to be considered, where necessary. Eglof explains: “While in earlier times it was enough to equip sheet steel cabinets with a normal fuse, nowadays, cabinets are a protective cover for digital processes, which are incredibly complex, extensive and sensitive.“
Machines and storage systems think for themselves
“Ready for Industry 4.0” at häwa doesn't just reflect on the products, but also on häwa's own production processes. “We will not change our production processes overnight, but gradually, just where it makes sense, we will implement machine communication that will improve and optimize our internal operations“, says Thomas Eglof. “If, for example, the steel for the control cabinet production is delivered, it is not stored randomly for a long time, but the sheets are immediately assigned to a product. “This is possible, because all the machines, storage systems and other equipment communicate with each other and initiate follow-up actions.”
As defined by Industry 4.0, these machines not only know their own functionality, but also the status quo and capacities of other machines – and they share their knowledge. This optimizes capacity utilization and production processes.
For staff members this means work content modification and increased quality requirements. To ensure that technicians, skilled workers and trainees do not perceive this as an additional burden, häwa offers targeted training and further education.
To manage the long-ranging adaptation to “Industry 4.0”, häwa is working in internal teams to compile the necessary steps. “We are carefully reviewing which actions are meaningful and cost-efficient for us, and are also discussing this with our customers”, says Thomas Eglof. “This makes us confident that we will not miss out on any new developments, but also don't compromise our quality and service through hasty actions.“
Reference: all-electronics.de / 06.06.2017