Rexroth is part of a German Industry 4.0 initiative called SmartFactoryKL. Banding together with more than 40 partner companies like IBM and Cisco, Rexroth is working in research and consulting to create the manufacturer-independent smart factory of the future.
Here are the elements identified by SmartFactoryKL as essentials for Industry 4.0:
Instead of relying on human intelligence or even on a single smart controller, the factory of the future is filled with smart objects. Machinery can let caretakers know if a nut wasn’t tightened, pallets can communicate with the robots who stack them, and there’s no need for human workers to take on tedious jobs.
The product can control its own production process. When different products can communicate their identities to machinery and set off their associated processes, small runs or customized batches become practical and cost effective.
Smart human-machine interface (HMI):
Workers don’t need a stream of information that requires sorting. They need context-appropriate information, training, and access to remote devices. The factory of the future won’t run without human workers. It will be a better work environment for people.
Plug and produce:
Modular design allows quick configuration, replacement, and upgrades of each module. The result is less downtime and easier maintenance. Changing a facility from one use to another can be fast and practical.
Everyone and every machine in a company can be connected with a smart network. Access can be controlled on a granular level, avoiding security issues as well as information silos. The result is an increase in efficiency and confidence.
Just as apps extend the abilities of our smartphones and tablets, they can extend the capacity of machinery. Fast configuration and cost savings mean that an app can be used for a temporary need, too.