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The art of connectivity 4.0: connect machines easily, scale quickly

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Connect old and new machines easily

Software construction is like city planning: sewers, roads, power grids, energy supply, water – the virtual networks must be in place to enable agility, mobility, and value creation.

In manufacturing companies, value creation takes place in the factory. Therefore, the following applies to the digital transformation of production: connectivity is the gateway to Industry 4.0 – and the critical first step towards intelligent data.

“Connectivity 4.0 is the supreme discipline of any successful IIoT strategy”.

Data acquisition & validation is the key starting point

A wide variety of machines of different ages and from various manufacturers are in use in every production facility. Only when all signals from all devices and systems are digitally recorded uniformly and translated into a uniform language will the further digital transformation steps, as defined by the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), be successful: Visibility, transparency, predictability, and adaptability.

“Nothing works in the digital space without connectivity,” says the McKinsey study “Industrial IoT.” Therefore, “Connectivity 4.0” (link to ePaper) is a supreme discipline of every successful IIoT strategy. Only comprehensive connectivity enables the long-term evolution of manufacturing towards global supply and service chains and new business models.

“The two central requirements are: easy to connect, quickly scalable.”

The requirements for machine connectivity

Strategically, it is essential to protect investments made in existing machinery and enable needed innovations in new digital IT solutions – as easily and quickly as possible. The two primary requirements for Connectivity 4.0 are: easy to connect, fast to scale.

  • First, a Connectivity 4.0 solution must be adaptable to heterogeneous machine parks and be able to connect all control systems – old existing systems (brownfield) and new machines (greenfield).
  • Secondly, the solution must be quickly scalable and enable the machine connection’s simplest possible rollout using predefined blueprints and clusters.

Rapid scalability through a repository

“The digital connection of a machine can be reduced from five hours to about half an hour.”

The requirement for easy machine connectivity succeeds through pre-built plug-ins. In addition, all industrial communication standards must be supported, e.g., OPC/UA (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture), MTConnect (Manufacturing Technology Connect), or MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport).

The requirement for global scalability is achieved by clustering the connection history according to machine types, summarized in a company’s connection repository. This new repository type in the FORCAM FORCE EDGE solution is a growing library of previously implemented machine connections that companies can access anytime, anywhere.

 

With such a new type of repository, companies achieve enormous speed in machine connection: While conventional networking takes about five hours per machine on average, this time can be reduced to about half an hour with a repository – a considerable advantage, especially for global players with hundreds of factories and thousands of machines.

“Connectivity 4.0 – the basis for transformation in the world of global supply and service chains”.

In the era of IIoT, companies need solutions that enable desired innovations and protect investments made. They need flexible and scalable tools and technologies that will transform into the digital world of global supply and service chains.

The factory of the future works with a precise and uniform real-time data model in production and planning. The foundation for this is provided by Connectivity 4.0: a fast connection of all factory machines and the simple global scalability of the device connected through a new type of repository.

Features of the FORCAM FORCE EDGE solution

Connectivity for all machines, old and new – regardless of the year of manufacture and manufacturer. Plug-ins serve as interfaces to the devices.

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

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

EDGE API as an interface to all third-party systems

Machine repository for global scalability

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

Co-CEO FORCAM