On April 4, 2017, Festo South Africa hosted a seminar at which its global Industry 4.0 campaign head, Eberhard Klotz demystified the concepts and introduced the key opportunities.
Introducing Klotz at the start of the seminar, Russell Schwultz says that, while Industry 4.0 is much spoken about: “It doesn’t seem real yet. In South Africa, we need to demystify the concepts and make them more practical.
“Globally, unlike many other company’s, Festo is able to back the rhetoric with products. Industry 4.0 is something we believe in, we are investing in it and proving the principles in practice in our own factories,” he reveals, adding that the purpose of the day is to “declutter and demystify” the technology by introducing things that are happening right now, “things that are sure to affect us in the future”.
Klotz introduces Industry 4.0 as the starting point for many changes. His opening slide reads: ‘Industry 4.0 describes the fundamental change to value creation chains and the life-cycle of products, where the real and virtual world grow together.’
“Currently, one big disadvantage in that there are no precise definitions for Industry 4.0,” he continues. “We tend to draw a broad picture regarding the networking of components, machines and factories. But there are different terms being used to describe this; the Internet of Things (IoT) and SmartFactory, for example.
“In Germany, though, where the Industry 4.0 term was first used, we use it to refer to the change in production and manufacturing techniques that become possible because of power of modern communication networks,” he explains.
“It’s about networking of machines and components to enable modifications and changes to be made to production systems. This is the focus from a production point of view,” he reiterates, “it’s about the use of networking to better manage our production processes.
Related to this are the better use digital platforms and the virtual world models of machines and components. By understanding machines and processes via 3D virtual models and simulations and using these platforms for advanced digital planning, it becomes possible to better align the real and the ideal.
“The performance of the digital representations of factories, machines and components can be compared to those achieved the real-world systems, allowing us to optimise our designs, implement better production techniques, reduce waste, make better use of energy, track reliability and improve preventative maintenance concepts,” Klotz explains.
Why is Festo interested in this topic? “In our own production systems, we manufacture thousands of product and a huge variety. In addition, many Festo customers require customisations to suit their particular needs, and these must be accommodated in short lead times. To do this, we need production equipment capable of making customised goods in small batch sizes in an efficient and cost-effective way,” he explains.
Festo also offers a very wide range of electrical and pneumatic solutions and components for factory and process automation applications. “Our customers also face challenges to improve their productivity and effectiveness, so Festo has a vested interest in developing connected components and machines capable of delivering Industry 4.0 advantages,” Klotz says.