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How CO2-neutral manufacturing becomes possible

Published: · Last updated: · 9 min reading time

The digital twin enables real-time analyses of energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The prerequisite for this is valid data on energy consumption and thus digitized machines. With FORCAM’s new “Machine Repository” component, companies can achieve their CO2 targets even faster through the standardized connection and energy data collection of identical machines worldwide.

A powerful tool: data-driven manufacturing with the digital twin

A climate-friendly, CO2-neutral manufacturing industry – this is one of the major goals of politics and business in the 21st century. Recently, the EU has further solidified its “European Green Deal” on the way to climate neutrality – implementing the EU climate target for 2030. Sustainability is one of the most important issues in business, Christian Sewing, CEO of Deutsche Bank, recently declared: “In five years, sustainability rating will be as important as today’s credit rating.”

There is a powerful tool for CO2-neutral manufacturing: digital data-driven manufacturing. It makes it possible to successfully manage the strategic core task of sustainability. With data-driven manufacturing, the energy consumption or CO2 emissions of global factory networks can be monitored and controlled.

Martin Strehl from BorgWarner Cooling Systems GmbH in Markdorf, Baden-Württemberg, explains: “FORCAM’s connectivity solution enables us to quickly collect energy data in production and use it to create the corresponding evaluations for continuous energy monitoring. We can call up this data in the system in real-time at any time. This gives us a handle on our energy costs in the short and long term.” 

The path to climate-friendly production leads via the so-called digital twin of production. It makes it possible to virtually analyze waste and errors in factories in real-time and to optimize them in real terms. The digital twin is the central lever of any digital transformation: With smart information, smart data, real-time analyses of all kinds can be carried out in specialized programs – for example, efficiency analyses of performance (OEE), quality, maintenance, operation, traceability (Track & Trace), and evaluations for sustainable production. 


Connectivity 4.0 – the critical path of all strategic digitalization goals

The critical path for the digital twin and any successful IIoT strategy is connectivity. “Nothing works in the digital space without connectivity,” states McKinsey in a study on Industrial IoT. Comprehensive digital networking of all factory equipment and the conversion of machine signals into smart data form the foundation for all strategic goals of digitalization – sustainable and efficient production, integration of manufacturing processes into global supply and service chains, and the establishment of new business models.

In operational terms, this means that the digital twin will not be realized until all signals from heterogeneous machinery have been digitally recorded in a uniform manner and the collected signals from machines and sensors have been translated into a uniform language. It then enables agile manufacturing by providing IT systems and apps with the smart fodder they need for a wide variety of real-time analyses – for historical performance analyses, for AI-based detection of acute anomalies, and for predictive maintenance or fault forecasts.

Refining Big Data into Smart Data

Therefore, the saying is true: “Data is the oil of the 21st century”. But just as crude oil must be refined into gasoline, diesel, or kerosene to power engines, the mined volumes of data – Big Data – must be transformed into meaningful information – Smart Data – to drive agile manufacturing. Refining Big Data into Smart Data can be understood as Connectivity 4.0. Successful Connectivity 4.0 is characterized by three steps:

Closing the gap between IT and OT

Every manufacturing company has its own starting conditions: Machines from a wide variety of manufacturers and from different years are used in every production facility. The digital connection of such heterogeneous machine parks has been one of the central challenges for global manufacturing companies. After all, they have to protect substantial sums invested in existing machinery while at the same time enabling necessary innovations in their factories. The FORCE EDGE CONNECT connectivity solution, available in the SAP Store, makes it easy to digitally connect even existing machines in factories – the so-called brownfield. Almost all machines can be digitally connected, regardless of manufacturer, age, or technical status. This protects investments in existing plants.

The solution serves as a “molding “around the versatility of the machine connections and signals and delivers them as standardized events to higher-level systems. These can be MES or MOM systems (Manufacturing Execution / Manufacturing Operations Management) such as SAP DMC/ME or MII, for example. In this way, the solution significantly reduces the effort of digitization and creates a standardized interface to the machinery. This fulfills one of the core requirements of Industry 4.0, which is to digitally generate information from the machine level and make it usable at all levels – on the shop floor as well as the top floor. This represents a significant contribution to the digital transformation because it closes the gap between IT and OT, between information technology and operational technology.

Use different modules flexibly

The FORCE EDGE CONNECT solution is flexible and can be adapted to any production environment. Architecturally, the solution is divided into layers (levels). These are oriented according to the business use.

This enables high scalability of the individual components. For example, several edge nodes can be hosted to divide the machines logically but also performance-oriented.

  • Level 0 – Assets
  • Level 1 – Connectivity
  • Level 2 – Application
  • Level 3 – Plant
  • Level 4 – Enterprise
  • Level 5 – Cross-Organizational

Step 1: Connect all machines digitally

The essential element of machine connectivity in the FORCE EDGE CONNECT solution is the Machine Connectivity & Model software component. It ensures both the connection of all machines and the generation of smart data.

The machines are connected via an innovative plugin concept. Currently, all common, machine manufacturer-specific (proprietary) protocols are supported (for example, HEIDENHAIN, Siemens S7, or FANUC & Co.) as well as all common communication standards – for example

  • OPC/UA (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture),
  • MTConnect (Manufacturing Technology Connect) or
  • MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport)

For non-networked machines, the FORCAM I/O Controller is available as separate hardware for digitizing the machine. FORCE EDGE CONNECT is constantly being expanded with plugins in order to realize the goal of making every machine type digitally mappable with our edge solution.

Step 2: Interpret signals, generate and pass on smart data

In the brownfield environment in particular, it is important not only to pick up signals and pass them on unsorted but also to interpret them for smart use. After the machine connection, the next important competence is, that a central “intelligence” gives each signal its semantically correct meaning and summarizes all information in a uniform machine data model.

Our solution extracts a wide variety of measured values and key figures from the collected signals. Of fundamental importance, for example, is the information as to when a machine is actually measured objectively and precisely – in production or at a standstill. Furthermore, messages about the current status of the connected machines or their sensor readings, such as temperatures, pressures or energy consumption, are among the frequently used information. The machine data model generated from this is available for real-time analyses in downstream systems.

The retrieval of the machine master data and the configuration of the machine connection is done via the EDGE API as RESTful API. The EDGE API event service is used to forward machine data in the form of standardized events to higher-level systems. Higher-level systems can be connected either via HTTP/REST or MQTT. The events are transmitted via HTTP in JSON format. Optionally, an MQTT broker can be used as middleware. The EDGE API is equipped with pre-configured standard events for communication with the MES or ERP level. These can be further customized if required.

Step 3: Scale the networking of identical machines globally

As mentioned at the beginning, the networking of global manufacturing networks is a key challenge for large manufacturers. This networking also requires first and foremost a digital connection at the machine level. It should be possible to standardize this as far as possible in order to save time and costs. The newly integrated Machine Repository software component in the FORCE EDGE CONNECT solution enables companies to significantly save costs when connecting the same machine types in international manufacturing networks and to significantly shorten the implementation of digital operational capability of global machine parks thanks to a novel template approach. 

The Machine Repository works according to the ‘connect and scale’ concept: The template structure ensures a standardized connection of identical machine types and enables their comparability. Standard templates for all common machines are included from the outset. New templates for machine connection can be derived from existing connections or newly defined. The time advantage from a standardized machine connection with template library can be quantified as follows: Once the factory teams have been trained, the connection of identical machines with Machine Repository is reduced to up to half an hour per machine. This provides companies with machine connectivity that scales extremely quickly around the world.

The Machine Repository is a learning system: The knowledge from existing machine connections is available quickly and standardized in all factory networks of a company. This provides companies with a growing library for the smooth networking of identical machine types. Via the open interface, the solution also offers a freely available collection of templates for machine configuration. These can be downloaded via and then imported into the company’s own machine repository.

Connectivity for all machines, old and new – regardless of the year of manufacture and manufacturer. Plugins serve as interfaces to the plants

All industrial communication standards are supported, e.g. OPC/UA, MTConnect or MQTT

Central data hub for standardization of all signals from machines and events (Machine Connectivity & Model)

EDGE API as interface to all third-party systems

Machine Repository for global scalability of the connection of the same machine types

Strategic Benefit: Bridge until an “asset administration shell” becomes standard

Strategically, the Machine Repository serves to standardize “Digital Twin” implementations within a company. This is important to bridge the time needed until most machine manufacturers adopt the standard of an Asset Administration Shell (AAS) and the common Industry 4.0 scenarios are available via the AAS submodels.

In summary, the digital twin of production represents the central benefit of a digital transformation in manufacturing companies in order to achieve the strategic goals of sustainability, efficiency and innovative strength. The foundation of the digital twin is comprehensive machine connectivity and refining Big Data into Smart Data.

With the ever new possibilities and opportunities of Industry 4.0 and industrial IoT, the requirements for “Digital Twins” also continue to increase. Therefore, the management of machine data – Machine Data Management – must also evolve.

The Machine Repository component is a key development step in this context, enabling Industry 4.0 pilot projects to be launched and their rollouts to be successfully managed in a standardized manner. The value of standardization is significant: It is not just a matter of significantly lower implementation times and costs for machine connection, but also of the necessary IT-OT integration and collaboration.

Dr. Andrea Rösinger is Co-CEO and CTO of IIoT-solution provider FORCAM. For 23 years, Dr. Rösinger has held senior leadership positions at SAP, working in Germany and China. She was the architect of Next Generation Financials for SAP Business By Design and Go2Market in Emerging Markets with Financial solution with SAP HANA Platform. During her outstanding carreer in IT, she focused on Management & Engineering Advisory for Business IT-Transformations, especially in Technology enabled Business Innovation-Management.

Dr. Andrea Rösinger


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