Following the introduction of mechanical production systems, work-sharing mass production and the automation of production processes, a fourth industrial revolution is now on the horizon. And the term introduced for this – “Industrie 4.0” – already points toward intelligent, networked systems: previously separated production environments are combined to produce universal production worlds, which are partly of a physical nature, and partly attain a new functionality in the cyber space of web connectivity. The focal point in this development is the convergence of information and automation technology, for which Beckhoff laid the foundation already in 1986 with PC-based Control, and it still offers the optimum control architecture for future Industrie 4.0 concepts.
In order to realize Industrie 4.0 following a genuinely holistic approach, three aspects have to be implemented: horizontal integration across company boundaries, vertical integration through networked production systems and integrated engineering throughout the product lifecycle. PC Control offers the right solution for all of that, especially since it can be adapted very flexibly to varying application requirements: intelligence can be arranged in a hierarchically modular fashion under the central controller, but also decentralized, i.e. with equal rights if necessary. In addition, there are hardly any technical systems today that cannot be operated by PC or at least be connected to a PC via software. Considering the great variety of manufacturing systems and technologies that are used in industrial enterprises, the key role of PC technology as an open platform and defacto industry standard for automation is obvious.
The openness and universality of PC Control can also be seen – entirely in the sense of Industrie 4.0 – in current research work for the seamless integration of information areas that until now have been separated. Beckhoff is one of the core companies of the technology network “it’s OWL” (short for intelligent technical systems OstWestfalenLippe) which was distinguished in 2012 by the BMBF as a “Leading-Edge Cluster” and represents the first large-scale project supported in the context of Industrie 4.0. Here, Beckhoff as consortium leader of the innovation project “ScAut” – one of the three key projects of the leading-edge cluster – is driving the integration of engineering findings into standard automation under the keyword “Scientific Automation”.
TwinCAT for Industrie 4.0
Beckhoff provides the foundational technologies and tools needed today to implement Industrie 4.0 concepts and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, all via PC-based control.
IoT AWS Cloud
Beyond the scope of conventional control tasks, applications such as big data, data mining and condition or power monitoring enable the implementation of superior, forward-looking automation solutions.
TwinCAT Cloud Engineering
With TwinCAT Cloud Engineering, even globally distributed control systems in Industrie 4.0 environments are easy to operate and maintain remotely.