The importance of individuality and flexibility is growing constantly in manufacturing companies. Every year, they find themselves increasingly forced to manufacture new product formats at very short notice and having to respond quickly and flexibly to changing customer wishes. One of the key factors here is the time required to switch from manufacturing one product format to another.
One defining aspect of the Industry 4.0 concept is the ability to network machinery, resources, tools, warehouse systems and even the products being manufactured with each other in order to ensure that every process runs like clockwork despite the high level of flexibility required.
This network of physical objects in the manufacturing process connected by information technology is also known as the "Internet of Things". A networked factory is described as a "smart factory". All the physical objects involved in the process exist not only in the real world but also as "virtual representations", which are used to depict the real world in the Internet of Things and enhanced with additional information. Every physical object in the manufacturing process which is represented in the virtual world and can be networked to interact with other physical objects is known as a "cyber-physical system".
Positioning systems from halstrup-walcher have all the components required to function as an independent cyber-physical system – sensors for determining position (absolute encoder), actuators for moving the positioning objects (gearbox, motor, motor control unit) and on-board decentralised intelligence (embedded system).
This ensures optimum integration of the cyber-physical positioning system into the machinery processes. Once the target position has been specified by the machine control unit, the positioning system runs to this new target position and reacts to any unexpected conditions (self-monitoring). For example, the positioning system can independently recognise the difference between an obstruction and dirt and responds accordingly (accelerates if the problem is dirt, stops for a genuine obstruction). The positioning task consumes only minimal machine control unit resources. It is executed independently and with optimum accuracy to the specified target. Positioning systems are therefore one of the central elements of factory automation as understood by the Industry 4.0 model: Self-monitoring support with outstanding flexibility.
Flexibility and quick format changes are not just the key to success in production operations – machinery manufacturers themselves can gain a vital competitive advantage from using the range of positioning systems supplied by halstrup-walcher: Our comprehensive modular system allows machine builders to adapt both the bus communication and also the IP protection class to specific customer wishes – without altering the relevant dimensions. This generates noticeable savings when altering and adapting products for customer-specific machine concepts.
What was once of interest mostly to large companies in the sector is rapidly becoming an important trend for medium-size engineering companies as well. Industry 4.0 is well under way – not just on the level of the machine but also on the level of the component.
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