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News

Phoenix Contact comments on Industry 4.0 at SPS IPC Drives

Phoenix Contact (Blomberg, Germany) : 02 December, 2013  (Special Report)
The term "Industry 4.0" is currently on everyone’s lips. It is a buzzword for the so-called fourth industrial revolution, which is characterised by the increasing digitalisation of the production environment and the product life-cycle. Roland Bent, Executive Vice PresidentPhoenix Contact, held a press conference at SPS IPC Drives to discuss the company's current thinking.
Phoenix Contact comments on Industry 4.0 at SPS IPC Drives
In summary, we can say that Phoenix Contact has already been moving in the field of the enabler technologies of Industry 4.0 for more than ten years with the creed, “IT-Powered Automation”, and is ideally equipped for the coming technology evolution.
 
For Germany as a business location it is of fundamental significance that the competitive capability of the producing companies remains intact. This must occur in spite of the pressure of the constantly growing challenges of the global market, and in spite of the increasing complexity and individualisation of products.
 
The vision of Industry 4.0 is that dynamic real-time optimised, self-organising and company-overlapping value creation networks will be created through the networking and integration of all value-creation instances and life-cycle processes of products and the means of production. Its implementation will crucially contribute to the competitiveness of the producing industry. The German Research union has worked out implementation recommendations for this position with its "Industry 4.0” work group. In the final report, which was submitted to the German Federal Government at the Hanover Fair 2013, it postulates the requirement and the opportunity for developing Germany into the lead market and lead provider for Industry 4.0 applications and technologies.
 
So what does the factory of the future – the smart factory, look like? And what requirements are consequently derived for automation?
 
For Phoenix Contact the answer to this question has fundamental relevance from both perspectives. As a producing company we are in constantly increasing price competition with Asian providers. The high share of value creation of approximately 70% in Germany can only be sustained through intelligent automation solutions for production procedures. To maintain the level of automation with increasing variant diversity and customer-specific characterisation of products, and to design even more efficiently in the future is one of the great challenges facing the vision of an Industry 4.0. The second aspect affects us as a supplier of innovative automation products. It will increasingly become a decisive competitive criterion to offer components, systems, and solutions in the future that optimally support intelligently networked and self-organising manufacturing technology.
 
With its present make-up, Phoenix Contact is ideally equipped for these requirements, from the technological perspective as well as from the organisational perspective. The company-internal Mechanical Engineering department, responsible for the creation and automation of all assembly machines and production equipment, is an ideal test field and supplier of requirements and ideas for the products of the company. In close collaboration between the development departments and the technologists of this in-house equipment manufacturing facility, new products and functions for the future of production are created. The whole builds on the comprehensive technology portfolio of the company, which includes key technologies for Industry 4.0.
 
A central theme in the networked production world of the future is the network technology that must enable consistent communication from the sensor to the web. With Profinet the right technology for this already exists. Phoenix Contact not only uses the appropriate technology in production, it also possesses all the means for further designing the technology. This is a central prerequisite for the active shaping of Industry 4.0 products and solutions.
 
Reliable protection of the network against external and unauthorised access is an essential necessity in the completely networked world of Industry 4.0. Phoenix Contact with the subsidiary "Innominate AG" has an in-house specialist for industrial network security as a technology supplier for integrated security applications.
 
Moreover, the functional security for protecting people and machines in networked, self-configuring systems is the centre of focus. In the future, functional security must become a fixed and inherent component of each subsystem. The necessary fundamental know-how in this regard has been worked out by Phoenix Contact over many years as a supplier of functional security systems and components.
 
An additional central technology component of Industry 4.0 will be the wireless transmission of information. Here all requirement classes are considered, from hard real-time transmission to transmission of large data records between cloud-based applications in a manner that is not time critical. In this area as well, Phoenix Contact, as a technology pioneer in the area of industrial wireless technology, has all necessary technology and know-how resources in-house.
 
In Industry 4.0 applications, function content of components and systems will increasingly be shifted from the hardware level into the software level. Already today, the software and engineering share for the development of machines and systems already accounts for a significant proportion of the overall costs. In the last 20 years, Phoenix Contact, in addition to what initially was virtually a pure hardware-oriented product range, has now created a strong mainstay for the development of software and embedded firmware. If you want to actively shape the future of automation technology in this environment of technological transformation, you must also invest in long-term research projects. Consequently Phoenix contact is co-founder and partner of the technology leading-edge cluster, “Intelligent Technical Systems Ostwestfalen Lippe” (It’s OWL). 
“It’s OWL” is the only one of 15 leading-edge clusters in Germany that is aligned to the implementation of Industry 4.0. Here, 24 core companies, six university locations and 14 research institutes work together in researching intelligent autonomous systems. In the next five years regional industry will execute research projects with a volume of almost €100 million. In this regard, Phoenix Contact leads one of 33 innovation projects and collaborates in two additional projects as a partner.
 
The first applications for Industry 4.0 technologies are already in use in Phoenix Contact’s manufacturing. Therefore, innovative automation solutions help to ensure that variant manufacturing can also be increasingly automated in the sense of a synchronous “one piece flow”. Through this measure, cost-intensive intermediate storage and complex manual workstations are dispensed with. Competitive capability is sustainably increased.
 
At this years’ SS IPC Drives, Phoenix Contact is presenting the implementation of Industry 4.0 on two demonstration systems.
 
On one hand resource efficiency will be shown in the context of the relevant topic. Using a robot cell, Phoenix Contact will demonstrate how significant energy savings can be achieved through a high level of networking and integration of all process participants. The heart of the energy management system is the so-called Energy-PLC from Phoenix Contact that receives information concerning production times and breaks in production from the higher-level control system via a standardised interface. Depending on the planned pause-free times or production-free times, the Energy-PLC calculates the switching strategy for achieving the optimal operating state in terms of energy, and switches the system components to the appropriate states during the break. This integrated consideration allows a reduction of the energy use by as much as 15 percent.
 
The second demo system addresses the topic of the integrated engineering chain. Digital product descriptions and macros from Phoenix Contact support the E-CAD tools for the creation of circuit diagrams, component configuration and selection for components on the DIN rail. As the result, product selection is described through the digital article. It is the connecting link to production, which in the demonstration system, occurs in the form of automated, individual terminal strip assembly for control cabinet construction.
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