Industry 4.0: Networking, Communication, Efficiency
Produce with greater flexibility, react more quickly and, in doing so, become even more efficient – with minimal consumption of resources of course. How can that work?
The Internet – the mother of networking – was invented in order to use the capacities of mainframe computers more effectively. Even now, more than 30 years later in times of the Internet of Things, networking and the integration it makes possible are still important factors for increased efficiency, for example, in the case of correlating production data from different sources within a manufacturing operation.
Two of the most important factors for production in a Smart Factory are horizontal and vertical integration. Horizontal integration means networking between individual machines, items of equipment or production units. Vertical integration networks beyond traditional production hierarchy levels – from the sensor to the business level of the company.
Combat the knowledge silos and communication islands
In “typical“ modern production, there are usually different machines and equipment from different manufacturers in use, which differ in terms of the degree of automation, the technology and even the communication standard.
Vertical integration entails additional hurdles. In addition to technical challenges, such as different networks and standards between automation and IT, it is most of all organizational aspects that play a role.
Communication islands leave technological gaps that must be compensated for on a daily basis – by means of notes, verbally or via third-party systems. This is laborious, slow and liable to error. This also distracts the employee from their most important task – creatively and intelligently driving forward continuous improvement. Different teams must therefore work throughout disciplines and open up existing knowledge silos.
Horizontal integration with zenon
When using zenon on several machines and items of equipment, multi-project administration and the straton binding protocol offer very powerful integration capabilities. It is precisely in such a heterogeneous environment where zenon‘s native ability to communicate plays a decisive role for horizontal integration with other solutions. It also allows different areas such as machines, storage systems and resources to be networked.
Vertical integration with zenon
Vertical integration with zenon ranges from the sensor through to the ERP – or the cloud. What is particularly useful is that the integration functions entirely bidirectionally. This allows both the exchange of data and status messages, as well as control commands.