Is the fourth industrial revolution (aka Industry 4.0) just around the corner? And if so, what sorts of changes and adjustments will it require on the part of manufacturers? If you’re asking yourself these sorts of questions, you’ll find the answers you’re looking for – and much more – at MDA (Motion, Drive & Automation) 2015. Around 1,100 world-leading manufacturers of power transmission and control components and systems will be there. They will be presenting a wide range of market ready ideas and building blocks for next-generation production systems.
Power transmission and control technology is integral to next-generation production systems because combining drives, actuators, sensors and control units into integrated systems is the key to realizing manufacturing plants and machines that can do things like share information, monitor themselves, detect when tools are wearing out, and even self-optimize on the fly. The other part of the Industry 4.0 equation involves integrating machine components, tools and even the products they produce into overarching communication networks to create the Internet of Things.
An example of all of these things in action is ARGO-HYTOS GmbH, a market-leading provider of tailored, high-reliability online condition monitoring systems. Online condition monitoring involves the continuous determination and analysis of information on the status of machines, systems and system components. “The advantage of online monitoring is that it’s seamless – it doesn’t miss anything. The data generated by online monitoring do not represent a snapshot at some random point in time; they plot changes over time and are thus the key to condition-based predictive maintenance,” says Christian H. Kienzle, ARGO-HYTOS’s CEO and the Chairman of the Power Association within the German Engineering Federation (VDMA).
In terms of Industry 4.0, there is still uncertainty – and a great deal of debate – as to the exact form that the anticipated digital transformation might take and the effects that it might have on production, products and the overall product development process. But whatever happens, power transmission and control will have a major role in it. That’s according to the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), an organization that is undoubtedly at the forefront of the Industry 4.0 trend in Germany. Hartmut Rauen, a member of the VDMA Executive Directorate, explains: “As enablers of smart, efficient production processes, power transmission control technologies have an integral part to play in Industry 4.0. The power transmission and control industry is also a user of Industry 4.0. Its intelligent components are important sources of the big data that will be mined and analyzed in the connected world of Industry 4.0.”
Further examples of Industry 4.0 technology will be on show at the Bosch Rexroth stand at MDA. The company will be showcasing intelligent hydraulic and electromechanical drive and control systems that feature its new Open Core Interface technology. With the Open Core Interface, users and manufacturers have enhanced access to the control core and thus have the freedom to program their own individual control functions. Dr. Karl Tragl, the Executive Board Chairman of Bosch Rexroth AG: “Multiple OEMS are currently using our interface to achieve things such as integration of smartphones and tablets into their solutions for greater ease of operation and diagnosis.”
Bosch Rexroth is also one of the first industrial companies to implement Industry 4.0 projects in its own production operations. It is currently running two pilot projects. “The experience and insights we gain from these projects are also flowing through into the development of new Rexroth products and integration solutions for industrial automation,” Dr. Tragl said.
Ideas, food for discussion, and fully developed, market-ready products and drive systems will also be on offer at the MDA display stand of Parker Hannifin GmbH. Its Managing Director, Günter Schrank, explains: “Our solutions can be used both to develop complex, self-controlling production plants from scratch and to retrofit existing plants with intelligent components to make them Industry 4.0-ready.”
Parker will be showcasing a number of new developments at MDA, including a new PSD servo-controller that has an Ethernet-based interface real-time drive data transmission. Used in combination with servo drives, such as Parker’s single-cable servo motors, the controller enables high-precision process control. Then there’s Parker’s new PAC motion control unit. Used as a central hub, it can collect all process data from a given machine and display that data on a smartphone or tablet via integrated Web publishing. In other words, it’s a real-life embodiment of Industry 4.0.
Schaeffler Technologies, a major international manufacturer of bearing and linear drive products, will also be part of the Industry 4.0 narrative at MDA 2015. Dirk Spindler, Senior Vice President R&D Schaeffler Industrial and Member of the Management Board Schaeffler Industrial, talks about the Industry 4.0 solutions his company will be exhibiting: “One of our main focuses is on developing drive components with integrated miniaturized sensors, and we’re pleased to say our first sensor bearings are ready to go into production. Another focus is on networking plant and machinery with central information systems so that large amounts of data can be shared and transferred. It’s all about using intelligent networking to deliver added value to our customers”.
Alongside these big names in power transmission and control technology there will be plenty of specialists and niche providers at MDA – and indeed at the closely allied Industrial Automation show. They will be presenting innovative solutions and ideas for tomorrow’s flexible, intelligent production systems.
These solutions and ideas are definitely worth a look for anyone involved in the design, construction or use of production systems and machinery. Because, although views and perspectives on Industry 4.0 vary widely, the one thing pretty much everyone agrees on is that the convergence of Internet-based data systems and smart machines will yield productivity and efficiency gains. The key is to be prepared for this in order to remain competitive – an imperative that applies both to manufacturers of industrial plant and machinery and, perhaps more importantly, to users of industrial plant and machinery, who need to act early to ensure that their production systems are Industry 4.0-ready. Visiting MDA is a great way for both providers and users of capital equipment to gain valuable insights into the future of industrial production and gather ideas on the first steps towards that future.
In addition to MDA in Hannover, Germany, Deutsche Messe organizes MDA events overseas in key growth markets. These include PTC ASIA in Shanghai, MDA SOUTH AMERICA in São Paulo, MDA INDIA in Delhi, MDA NORTH AMERICA in Chicago, and WIN (World of Industry) in Istanbul.