Production systems are becoming more flexible but also need to remain robust, i.e. simple and highly available. This can be achieved through autonomous processes. In the SmartFactory KL, we speak of "Production Level 4" to refer to extensive autonomy in production, the scenario in which people use their specific skills while intelligent processes relieve them of laborious tasks. We’ve leveraged the experience of our world-first Industry 4.0 production facility in the implementation of the new PL4 demonstrator. The facility’s infrastructure was built up with HARTING industrial connectors to supply the production modules.
Production Level 4 places significantly higher demands on a connector.
However, Production Level 4 places significantly higher demands on a connector. These interfaces become intelligent, so that modules are integrated into the infrastructure at the right place and the module is connected to its lifeline at the right time. Unlocking takes place autonomously and depends on the condition of the production system. This ensures that the user is not put in danger by incorrectly unplugging the connector and that the production system’s availability is optimised. Both of these are only possible if the connector is equipped with sensors, actuators and decentralised intelligence. Its active digital twin also permits the entire infrastructure to be managed. Thus, the classic connector is transformed into an intelligent module interface. HARTING will present a proposal for this module interface in the Production Level 4 demonstrator at HM 2020. Since this is an interface for production infrastructure, an associated standardisation for the compatibility of different modules in the infrastructure is crucial for success. Consequently, both a SmartFactory KL project group and a DKE standardisation group are studying these future interfaces.
Andreas Huhmann, Board member at SmartFactory KL, who describes the transformation in the sense of a general industrial change, with the keyword being ‘autonomous production’.