Terms related to networked production: what is what in Industry 4.0?

Components communicate independently with the production plant or, if necessary, award the order for a repair themselves, driverless vans carry out logistics tasks autonomously and suppliers, partners and customers are involved in business and value creation processes – digitization is fundamentally changing the way in which production will take place in Germany in the future and working.

The key word is Industry 4.0. The marketing term stands for the fourth industrial revolution after mechanization with water and steam power (Industry 1.0), mass production with assembly lines and electrical energy (Industry 2.0) as well as automation of production with electronics and IT, for example through the programmable logic controller (Industry 3.0). With Industry 4.0, production interlocks with the latest information and communication technology. We clarify the most important terms, start with the generic term Industry 4.0 before continuing alphabetically.

Industry 4.0 is in principle a German marketing term and is considered a “future project” of the German government; Internationally, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) is spoken of as an expression of the Internet of Things (IoT) in industrial use. Industry 4.0 replaces conventional production structures based on key decisions and replaces them with intelligent, self-controlling, sensor-based and interconnected production systems. Through intelligent monitoring of the manufacturing data, companies can react to changing framework conditions almost in real time and control and optimize their production accordingly.

Industry 4.0 combines flexible series production with the manufacture of individual products according to customer requirements (lot size 1). Personalized sports shoes from Adidas, for example, are an example of this. In addition to the digital factory, the production and logistics processes are also networked with suppliers and partners and databases are automatically synchronized. Since external companies are integrated into the value creation processes, production can be made even more efficient.

Automation has two sides. It speeds up and optimizes production processes, but at the same time cuts jobs because it transfers functions of the production process such as control and regulation to artificial systems. An automat is a machine that automatically executes predetermined processes according to a defined plan. This can be the processing of products, work steps in the warehouse or processes related to development, production planning or control. Depending on the scope of the automated functions, one speaks of partial or full automation.

The level of automation is very high in the Industry 4.0 environment. There is also a paradigm shift. So far, automation has mostly been aimed at transferring rigid and recurring production processes as completely as possible to machines in order to increase productivity. Today it is a matter of having processes with different tasks performed by flexible manufacturing systems.

Condition monitoring is the continuous recording of machine conditions by measuring or analyzing physical variables such as temperature, noise, vibration, etc. using sensors. The recording not only serves for the continuous monitoring and documentation of parameters, but also enables the early detection of possible failures in the future through an intelligent evaluation in Industry 4.0 scenarios. This makes it possible, for example, to make predictions about the remaining term until the maintenance or repair of machines (parts) (see Predictive maintenance)

Cyber ​​physical systems are based on the networking of embedded systems (see Embedded systems) in automation technology and communication technologies. With the help of sensors and actuators, they link real (physical) objects and processes with information processing (virtual) objects and processes. Cyber ​​physical systems are networked and autonomous, configure themselves and can be expanded (plug & produce).

CPS-based automation systems provide relevant data and services and form the basis for the digital factory (see Smart factory)

Embedded systems or embedded systems form the basis for the Internet of Things or Industry 4.0. This means microprocessors or small computers that are – mostly invisible – in practically all technical systems of everyday life: mobile phones, washing machines, televisions, cars, navigation devices, but also in wind turbines, machines and systems. More than 90 percent of all chips produced are integrated in such embedded systems. These chips usually have the task of controlling, regulating or monitoring the corresponding system.

In the course of the IoT, the embedded market is increasingly changing from conventional, isolated embedded systems with defined functions to a new category of flexible intelligent systems (see Cyber ​​physical systems). These modern systems are networked via the Internet, act in a context-sensitive manner and can process the data they generate themselves.

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