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Automation and Data Exchange in manufacturing technologies is a trending topic in all future-driven companies that want to be a part of "Industry 4.0". Cyber-physical systems, cloud computing, automated production, cognitive computing and thus flexibility and individualized production are major buzzwords and help companies to stay competitive. Digitalization is no loanword anymore, and the so-called "fourth industrial revolution" is in full swing!
Companies like Siemens or Festo created many innovations and shaped, with their concepts and products, this "fourth industrial evolution". But not just them: There are many great innovations among the iF awarded designs over the
past 66 years, also coming from smaller manufacturers and design offices, and give a glimpse of the design evolution in Industry 4.0 over the years. The Hannover Messe, the world's leading trade show for industrial technology, will present visionary concepts from 1 to 5 April in Hannover, Germany. Industry 4.0 is the major topic there with many iF awarded companies showcasing their designs.
However, what are actually the requirements for manufacturers or designers to catch the train of Industry 4.0? Will entire operating flows be transformed? How does it look and how do companies reach their goals? We talked to professionals of industrial technology and to designers to find out, what Industry 4.0 actually is today and present all iF awarded designs.
Digitalization is no loanword anymore, and the so-called "fourth
industrial revolution" is in full swing! The design of either the
processes, displays, tools and all assistance systems plays a crucial
role here. But to be a "smart factory" there has to be more than
intelligent machines alone. On an industrial fair, like HANNOVER MESSE, there are numerous innovations to find that add up to the idea of industry 4.0. See below a short summary of the main movements and most important trends in digital industry!
Robotics and bionic arms especially, are one of the biggest topics at the HANNOVER MESSE, like at Universal Robots, HAIER or even Kawasaki and Stäubli. Manufacturers present innovations that form a kind of symbiosis with the people operating with them. One of the big crowd pullers is the industrial manufacturer and multi iF DESIGN AWARD winner FESTO (picture left). They presented their brand new BionicSoftArm and BionicSoftHand to the visitors, who were struck by its precision. It has a flexible gripper for natural movements, built after an elephant’s trunk. Precision is key – also at this year’s iF DESIGN AWARD winner Schunk (picture right): They showcased their awarded Co-act EGP-C – the first industrial gripper certified for human/robot collaboration. Modular in design, the gripper minimizes warehousing and increases efficiency in assembly and logistics.
When it comes to digitization in factories – safe processes, controlling and data is important, especially with IIOT-Solutions. This is a message, companies like Phoenix Contact, Siemens AG or Plusserver (picture left) would sign immediately! The company ANDRITZ developed “Metris OPP – Optimization of Process Performance.” The main focus is Smart Sensors, Big Data and augmented reality. Outstanding are also the new PILZ Education Systems, aimed to enable education and training facilities to improve practical training in safe automation technology. Users can choose between nine different control panels that cover sensor technology, control technology, operation and maintenance and can be combined with each other, along with a board that simulates an actual plant. A rather new – and design-driven – turn on data and digitization does the startup „Qlaym“ (picture right) take: They translate operative data into commercially valuable insights with their tool “Qoactive”. They offer effective data collation: All data is displayed at an intermediate level, so stand-alone solutions become comparable structures – and in turn: measurable outcomes.
Probably the smallest, yet not least innovative area of the HANNOVER MESSE. Inclinations sensors, whether it is in machine and system components, commercial vehicles or solar power systems – play a crucial role in the future-driven factory! As a specialist in automation and sensor technology, Pepperl+Fuchs presents their inclination sensors for a wide variety of applications. The brand new F99 is specially optimized for high precision inclination measurement. Easy to handle is key, also at Elesa (picture left): They showcased their components and also their awarded VB.839 three-arm knobs, which are characterized by an ergonomic design that provides a safe and comfortable grip. Or let us take a look at Ganter Griffe – a traditional German Company, showcasing also their new new Cabinet U handles GN 422: timeless, multifunctional, rugged and attractive (picture right).
Future-driven companies hopped on the train of digitization long ago! But are all of them really "smart factories"? What can modern factories do, to achieve this status? See below a summary of the main points:
Integrated planning and scheduling systems within the factory from machine level over Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems including extended partners like suppliers and customers. Integrated planning allows an immediate reaction to changes in resource availability or demand.
Autonomous intraplant logistics
Factory systems capable of operating and performing logistics activities without human intervention. These systems sense and process real-time information about digital or physical surroundings to navigate safely through in- and outdoor environments, while performing all necessary tasks. Solutions include automated guided vehicles (AGV) as well as aerial drones for special tasks.
Remote monitoring of dynamic condition of machines with help of sensor data and big data analytics to predict maintenance and repair situations. This helps to increase resource availability and optimize maintenance efforts.
Big Data driven process/quality optimization
Big data analyses can help to detect patterns in production or quality data to provide insights to optimize processes or product quality. Models range from pure statistical „black box“ models to expert and knowledge based „white box“ approaches.
Data-enabled resource optimization
Optimization of energy and resource consumption through intelligent data analyses and controls, e.g. energy or pressurized air management in facilities based on actual demand and/or supply.
Track and trace
Location of products and raw materials within the factory is tracked via sensors and integrated into data platform connected to internal systems such as MES or ERP systems. This provides full transparency about the production progress and inventory levels as well as allowing the tracking of individual parts/products.
Sometimes, it just needs a few clicks to success. We are happy to share the story of the Dutch design agency VanBerlo and the world’s leading fuel meter manufacturer, Liquid Controls LLC, who successfully collaborated thanks to the iF WORLD DESIGN GUIDE website, created the meter register and data controller LCR.iQ and won an iF DESIGN AWARD 2019! Wow! But how did this happen?