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How production environments are changed by Industrie 4.0?

Leading heads of the HARTING Technology Group talk about future prospects
HARTING Management
Leading heads of the HARTING Technology Group

How are production environments changed by Integrated Industry? What new solutions are resulting from it in order to create value and benefits for the customer? posed these questions to leading HARTING managers, who – in line with their respective areas of work within the Technology Group – voiced their various standpoints.

Uwe Gräff
Managing Director HARTING Electric and HARTING Electronics,
HARTING Technology Group
Dr. Volker Franke
Managing Director HARTING Applied Technologies GmbH & Co. KG
Lasse-Pekka Thiem
Systems Architect HARTING Electric, HARTING Technology Group
Andreas Conrad
Chief Operations Officer, HARTING Technology Group

The age of Integrated Industry and Industrie 4.0 is significantly influencing and changing our society. In this context, we would like to shed more light on industrial production environments. Mr. Conrad, you’re responsible for Operations at HARTING – what are the requirements that do you see with respect to industrial production?

A. Conrad:

First, we need to distinguish between two different approaches. Of course, on the one hand, it’s possible to follow the greenfield approach: if we have total freedom and can install a completely new factory, you can completely integrate all the value-added production processes and use new services in an all-encompassing manner. This entails significant investment, but we also do it. On the other hand, we’re working on a brownfield approach, which is based on the existing circumstances: what do we need to do to implement production in a future-proof manner using the existing machinery on hand? Ultimately, the results of both approaches need to be compared in order to be able to draw conclusions about the range of objectives and the effort that’s required.

What do we need to do to implement production in a future-proof manner using the existing machinery on hand?

A. Conrad, Chief Operations Officer, HARTING Technology Group

L.-P. Thiem:

And yet, the question arises: isn’t it the case that we need the brownfield approach to enable the greenfield approach in the first place? We need the requirements that we generate from those experiences to define how the new machines should look.

A. Conrad:

Of course, irrespective of the brownfield or greenfield approach, we have an ideal conception of the importance of collecting and processing data. Naturally, it goes without saying that both sides have the goal of shortening the lead times in production, to make them more flexible, and to become significantly faster overall. Of course, we also want to gain stability while doing so and achieve more robust processes, which increases efficiency. In order to ensure this, we’ve got to increase the communication capability of machines and plants and integrate them into end-to-end IT, i.e. leverage the full spectrum of ICT, which is the backbone of an Integrated Industry.

Dr. V. Franke:

This has an impact on mechanical engineering, because, unlike in the past, in today’s mechanical engineering we can make information available that’s generated from systems and that couldn’t be obtained in the past, or was very difficult to obtain, information which didn’t correlate amongst itself. Today, it’s easier for us to link information – for example, the maintenance engineer can recognise earlier the cause of an error, then the installer can optimally prepare his next steps for the next tool preparation task, etc.

The HARTING Integrated Industry for You (HAII4YOU) system exhibited at the Hannover Messe trade fair is based on a modularised system which HARTING is using to illustrate basic principles intended to be used in future: end-to-end integration, coordination and the derivation of development requirements, which is done so that this can be carried over to other product areas. What are your other objectives for Operations over the next five years?

A. Conrad:

It’s quite clear that our goal is to cover our production processes with a digital layer – the Enterprise Integration Layer (EIL) – within the next few years, in order to obtain a digital representation of it, as well as to digitally depict the logistics within companies and corporate networks. Regarding the implementation of this, right now we’re in the definition phase: how must this EIL be structured? What must it be able to do? What information is forwarded to the plants, then back from there, and is needed how and where? What basic design should the architecture have?

U. Gräff:

On the functional side there’s also a service system that provides us with support to make processes more robust. And, with regard to machine engineering, this is where our MICA® steps in: it’s positioned exactly between the machine and the digital layer. Here, I’d also like to come back to the brownfield approach once again. Its modular design – both hardware and software – enables the MICA® to generate data from existing machines. Since today we’re dealing with a fundamentally heterogeneous world of plant engineering and mechanical engineering, the standards in place are manifold and vary in different characteristics, depending on the characteristics of the machine builder.

Dr. V. Franke:

In principle, the services are independent of the brownfield or greenfield approach and help increase availability and effectiveness. With regard to the standards, it’s necessary to define them precisely so that we don’t end up with some proprietary solutions that make it complex to collect data in the machine. In this context, the machine provides the key data for services. However, these services are generally not part of the machine’s functionality.

Our services can easily be set up on data collected in the standardised manner.

U. Gräff, Managing Director HARTING Electric and HARTING Electronics, HARTING Technology Group

U. Gräff:

Uniform standards for the collection of data are important, since these have to be suitable for mapping meaningful services using the described situation. Our services can easily be set up on data collected in the standardised manner. MICA®, on the other hand, should be viewed as connectivity for these services, i.e. as a tool that captures, preprocesses and maps the services. Thus, a data reference is generated. With regard to condition monitoring, the MICA® maps for instance the host to read out the machine status in terms of energy data. This integrated service approach is implemented in conjunction with the corresponding software.

L.-P. Thiem:

I’d like to stress this. The MICA® is the connecting element between the real layer in production and the Cloud layer, i.e. between the machines and the possible services. Even though we, as an enabler for Integrated Industry, primarily make it possible to offer these services, we also implement selected services such as energy metering ourselves and offer our customers solutions packages for services.

A. Conrad:

The MICA® is currently in use in various applications within our production. In injection molding, information which pertains to operating conditions is captured. In Han® packaging, the MICA® serves as a node for several systems, etc. Next, we will equip individual pilot areas with sensors and MICA® for each machine group in order to implement "predictive maintenance", i.e. to minimise machine downtimes. For us, the MICA® is an important building block in numerous areas intended to convey machinery into the digital future!

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