Eberhard Klotz is the head of the Industry 4.0 campaign at Festo, a supplier of automation technology and industrial training and education programmes. In this article he discusses the company’s activities in IoT, its view of production of the future, benefits for original equipment makers (OEMs) and end-users and partners in industrial markets with Matt Wilkins, a senior analyst of IoT Research at Strategy Analytics
Matt Wilkins: Industry 4.0 is a key aspect of the implementation of the Internet of Things in the industrial market, what does Industry 4.0 mean to Festo?
Eberhard Klotz: At Festo we view Industry 4.0 as the process through which we get to the production of the future. Festo has a holistic view of the changes in the production world, considers different perspectives and, in addition to technology, also takes other key points into account, such as the interaction between man and machine, and the issue of training.
The real and virtual world are growing increasingly closer: modern information and communication technologies are merging with industrial processes, increasingly changing the production landscape and the interaction with individual customers.
Industry 4.0 brings together various activities under one umbrella and describes the change that is imposing new requirements on production systems, machines and people in many areas. Festo is part of the Industry 4.0 steering team that includes government ministries, several official bodies, along with Siemens, Bosch, SAP and Deutsche Telekom.
MW: What does production of the future look like?
EK: The first thing is that production systems will be fully connected. There will be intelligent, selfregulating and self-controlling components for plug-and-produce. Production plants will be highly flexible, allow for economical manufacturing of small batch sizes, fast balancing of the workload in a production network – including logistics, and fast adjustment to the orders in hand.
Finally, there will be comprehensive condition monitoring which helps to avoid or reduce downtime and optimises maintenance procedures and mobile maintenance. Essentially the faster we can be aware of an issue and analyse it, the faster we can implement a repair before a minor issue becomes a major one. Digital twins and a virtual set-up of a smart factory also allow pattern matching and detecting random errors, thus optimising downtime as well as process optimisation online.
MW: If Industry 4.0 is the process which takes us to the production of the future, that must surely require a constant focus on refining and developing?
EK: Festo has been at the forefront of factory automation for many years. The research department helps shape the production systems of the future. So it is looking at mechatronics, the latest simulation technologies, microsystem technology and intelligent components for Industry 4.0. In our view innovation management creates the necessary framework to turn good ideas, knowledge and technology into successful commercial products.
Our research activities include the ENTOC (Engineering Tool Chain for Efficient and Iterative Development of Smart Factories) research project, where the aim is to significantly reduce the time taken and complexity of planning the engineering process for a given production plant. The ENTOC project is looking at how factory processes can be planned and optimised virtually. For example, how sequences of processes can be optimised and programmed before they are actually implemented on physical machinery. For the ENTOC project Festo is working with Daimler, EKS InTec, EDAG Production Solutions, tarakos and TWT GmbH Science & Innovation, as well as the Institut für Automation und Kommunikation e.V
Another example is the ARIZ project (Arbeit in der Industrie der Zukunft / Work in the Industry of the Future), which is looking at safe human/robot cooperation in production plants. While much work is being done on the role that robots will play in future production, the role of humans will also be a key factor. With ARIZ we are researching how humans can work on the same production lines as robots, but without the need for protective cages, with robots incorporating sensors that monitor their movements. So if a human comes too close, the robot comes to a complete stop. The ability to have a flexible and adaptive production assistant – the robot – working safely and co-operatively with humans, is the goal. For the ARIZ project, Festo is working with robomotion GmbH, a Human-Computer Interaction Centre at RWTH Aachen University, the Institute for Management Cybernetics e.V. at RWTH Aachen University, theInstitute of Information Management in Mechanical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University and the Centre for Learning and Knowledge Management at RWTH Aachen University.
MW: Have you implemented Industry 4.0 in your own factories?
EK: Yes, in our new Scharnhausen Technology plant, SAP HANA is already used by Festo which has resulted in us being able to implement process optimisations. As a company we support sustainability goals, such as lower energy consumption and less pollution. For example, we have designed and built an energy efficiency module that is a plug-and-play solution for pneumatic circuits, able to summarise, evaluate and analyse data using artificial intelligence (AI). This allows us to process the data inside the unit or give us the option to transfer the data to the cloud.
However, to gain the maximum from this initiative, it was important not just to fit a module to new machines – which is essential – but also to older machines, where we had to retrofit the module. Our target was to optimise air and electrical current consumption by dedicated on/off switching cycles, depending on several criteria. As a result, the new solutions – in conjunction with other actions such as the use of solar panels – allow us to reduce energy usage by up to a third compared to the old plant.
We believe that OEMs can improve their machine offerings by using the latest technology upgrades and cloud connectivity in Industry 4.0 host environments. For example, the Festo Motion Terminal, the world’s first cyber-physical-system, can be used to make pneumatics digital, more flexible and communicative. Whereas end-users can improve their production through the use of cloud analytics to drive optimisation of business and production processes, higher operational energy efficiency by predictive maintenance and shorter downtime by better diagnostic support.
MW: Who does Festo partner with to enable Industry 4.0 solutions?
EK: Across our solutions we partner with a variety of companies which allows end-users to derive benefits from Industry 4.0. For example our solutions work with Microsoft Azure and SAP Hana allowing production data to be used in the cloud for analytics and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Our IoT gateways are able to transfer data to systems from Rockwell (Factory Talk), Siemens (MindSphere) and SAP (HANA).
We recently announced a partnership with Huawei to explore the robot-as-a-service concept, to customise robots and automated services for specific manufacturing tasks, with robots and the cloud linked by 5G networks.
On the other hand, Festo Didactic is a strong partner to private bodies, governments, schools and universities to ensure the next generation is Industry 4.0 ready.