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New Technologies Pair the Physical with the Digital

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Digital twinning is one part of the technology road map for Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things. A gamut of new technologies must be integrated to work seamlessly together to pair the physical domain with the digital information domain.

mouser

Digital twinning seeks to improve the design and maintenance of physical systems by offering datadriven ways to discretely map these physical systems into digital and computerized replicas of themselves. With the arrival of automation and data exchange, digital twinning could be useful in a myriad of industrial applications.

This new industrial context, where the physical and the digital worlds meet, is known as the fourth industrial revolution—or Industry 4.0. Brought on by the intersection of a host of high-technology electronic and computer systems, the “new way” of Industry 4.0 promises increasing gains, efficiencies, and flexibility. A gamut of new technologies must be integrated to work seamlessly together to pair the physical domain with the digital information domain. Digital twinning is only one part of the technology roadmap for Industry 4.0, as these additional technologies are helping to enable digital twinning for Industry 4.0 to manifest its potential:

• Pairing technologies
• Cyber-physical systems
• Augmented, virtual, and mixed reality
• Artificial intelligence
• Additive manufacturing
• 3D printing
• Digital thread

Pairing Technologies
Pairing technologies are critical to digital twinning and the world of Industry 4.0, as these technologies empower a device or system to find, connect, and communicate with other devices and systems. For example, sensors and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) products require the ability to find and connect with other devices successfully. Technologies such as Bluetooth®, among others, are employed to make these connections. To accomplish this, connected devices must be able to interrogate other potentially connectable devices successfully. When inquiring other devices, units must be able to ascertain whether they are communicating with a unit that they should be corresponding and exchanging data with. When properly enabled and successful, this accomplishment is called pairing.

Security issues are paramount. Every device should pair only after proper identification has been confirmed to avoid crosstalk or misinformation. Shortcuts may be achieved through programming algorithms that allow the devices to quickly and easily identify other units that they should pair with. Pairing gets accomplished through authentication keys employing cryptography. Pairing works to ensure that the connections stay bonded in a data exchanging relationship between devices and works to prevent an external source from prying into their data exchanges.

Being that flexibility is paramount, units must be able to make and break their pairing quickly and without external, human involvement. Successful pairing may require ongoing communication to keep the pairing active. If one of the units determines that the pairing bond is no longer relevant to its successful operational objectives, it will remove its pairing relationship and present itself available for a different pairing opportunity.

(photo. Mouser Electronics)

Cyber-Physical Systems
The National Science Foundation (NSF) defines cyber-physical systems (CPS) as, “The tight conjoining of and coordination between computational and physical resources.” The critical element in this definition is that it focuses on a system approach— where a set of connected things or parts form a complex whole.

A current example of a CPS is the automated airline flight-control systems. Industry 4.0 requires traffic control, not for airplanes, but for the machines, computers, robots, sensors, and processes that comprehensively work together for its realization. It represents a system of higher order than IIoT, because it sits one level higher in the complexity chain. Where IIoT is concerned with collecting, handling, and sharing of large amounts of data, CPS is focused on ensuring that this large amount of data, collected from multiple systems, gets properly utilized across multiple disciplines that are relevant to the industry involved. The unique dilemmas of any given industry will require engineering expertise to address these specific challenges.

Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality
New technologies are augmenting our reality. They are providing us with the ability to overlay digital content in front of us physically, merging the real with the virtual, creating a mixed reality that should be considered augmented. This gain is allowing engineers to view things in new ways. For example, rather than viewing a DT on a computer monitor, we could view a DT using an augmented reality (AR) headset that enables the users to engage with digital content or interact with holograms.

The use of such AR empowers viewers to have an immersive experience whereby they engage their bodily senses.

Reality-enhancing headsets can create real-time experiences of actual conditions happening in the physical world, by way of experiencing them through a digitized environment. AR could lead to new insights and understandings. Additionally, a DT display could appear in the user’s field of view, making real-time feedback that much more accessible and easy to use.

Artificial Intelligence Technologies
IIoT offers the promise to provide connected data; therefore, useful data must be stored and analyzed. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a solution to how to analyze and successfully handle large amounts of digital data. It helps in allowing digital twinning to become more realized because it promotes value by enabling rapid integration, hybrid integration, investment leverage, and system management and compliance.

Through machine learning, it offers the opportunity to use digital data to model, analyze, train, apply, and infer how best to make decisions. AI is helping to change the traditional perspective of computing, moving it beyond what primarily has been an automating- and scaling-process perspective towards a knowledgebased perspective, via actionable insights. Soon, it will help engineers gather new insights and ways to create value. By using a data-science approach, rapidly powered decisions will enable the generation of further opportunities.

Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing (AM) is a method of production in which 3D objects are built by adding layer-upon-layer of material. AM holds promise because it leads to industries that can address variable demand and produce products that are distributable and flexible. Two areas of AM – 3D printing and digital thread – are advancing to make digital twinning possible.

(photo. Mouser Electronics)

 

3D Printing
3D printing is perhaps the most well-known example of AM. In 3D printing, a printer is programmed to print an object using plastics, metals, or other custom materials with virtually zero lead-time. 3D printing is extremely flexible and eliminates the issues involved in producing objects with large economies of scale. What this means for the future is that you will be able to get what you want quickly—as if walking up to the fast food counter.

Digital Thread
With complex systems, however, AM has been confined primarily to the laboratory because all the systems involved do not operate under a unified system and, thus, are hard to scale. Digital thread promises to change that.

A digital thread is a single, seamless strand of data that acts as the constant behind a data-driven digital system. It activates the potential of AM by allowing a unification of disparate applications by way of their adherence to the thread, which is their source of shared information. A digital thread creates an easier process for collecting, managing, and analyzing information from every location involved in the redesigned Industry 4.0. It enables better and more efficient design, production, and utilization throughout the entire process.

Conclusion
Digital twinning will be a hallmark of Industry 4.0, helping to increase gains, efficiencies, and flexibility for existing products and processes. But digital twinning is just one part of the Industry 4.0 road map. Pairing technologies, CPS, AI, and AM are key to seamlessly bringing together the physical realm and the realm of its DT information and insights. While these technologies are bringing their complexities into the digital twinning equation, ultimately, they promise to enable Industry 4.0 to manifest its potential.

by Paul Golata for Mouser Electronics

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Siemens offers industrialized 3D printing for complex challenges in various industries

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Opening of the new state-of-the-art 3D printing facility at Materials Solutions Ltd. in UK

With the opening of the new state-of-the-art 3D printing facility at Materials Solutions Ltd. in the U.K., Siemens is continuing to drive the industrialization of additive manufacturing (AM). The investment of €30 million in the new U.K. facility enables the growth of the business by doubling the capacity of 3D-printing machines to 50 and will also increase its post-processing capabilities. Siemens is taking AM out of the traditional research laboratory into an industrialized production factory. By employing industrial methods to scale up production, Siemens can bring down the costs of AM by manufacturing high-end complex metal parts in serial production in a robust industrial environment. With an entire digital end-to-end chain, Siemens is efficiently solving complex customer challenges by producing high-end serial parts for Siemens Power and Gas and customers in the aerospace, automotive, motorsport, and other industries.

The picture shows the state-of-the-art 3D printing facility at Materials Solutions Ltd.

The picture shows the state-of-the-art 3D printing facility at Materials Solutions Ltd.

The new factory has a footprint of 4,500 m2 and is adopting a true industrial approach, housing multiple machines across a shop floor. The parts move through a variety of processes, with engineers ensuring that they’re compliant. The digital approach embedded in the factory site creates a modern digital factory and provides end-to-end service to customers. The factory employs many of Siemens’ latest digital factory and AM technologies, including an end-to-end PLM chain, Siemens’ computer-aided design software NX, and MindSphere, the Siemens cloud-based, open IoT operating system that connects products, factories, systems, and machines with data analytics. Virtual production begins long before the actual printing. By leveraging Siemens’ design experience and expertise, Materials Solutions Ltd. is offering various design services for AM. Siemens provides engineering services and consulting to help create a digital twin of the 3D printed component. The company’s comprehensive experience is the ideal prerequisite for automating and thereby industrializing 3D printing, including post-processing, until qualification and certification – all under one roof.

“Siemens is the only company with such a comprehensive portfolio for driving the industrialization of AM. Built on the foundation of our global Siemens R&D and manufacturing footprint, the new facility is a huge step in pioneering the industrialization of high-end AM,” said Willi Meixner, CEO of the Siemens Power and Gas Division. “Combining the full power of Siemens with the strengths of Materials Solutions Ltd. offers unique and proven technologies for our in-house gas turbine business and for external markets and industries. We already have a significant number of core AM components in our portfolio.”

Siemens’ leading metal AM technology has been validated through its in-house application in the company’s Power and Gas and Power Generation Services businesses. It has been additively manufacturing hot rotating parts for use in its gas turbines, and the company has now gathered more than 110,000 hours of engine experience with 3D-printed gas turbine parts in fully operational power plants.

Materials Solutions Ltd. is also supporting Siemens’ latest HL-class gas turbines with AM components in serial production to drive emission reduction and increased performance in the gas turbines. Siemens will use AM technology to manufacture combustion components for the SGT5-9000HL gas turbine, and they will be used for the first time by the Scottish energy company SSE plc at the combined cycle power plant Keadby 2 in Lincolnshire, U.K.

“Whether it’s materials, machines, processes, or the digital value chain, we’re always pushing the boundaries of technology. Printing components for gas turbines means the highest material and technology requirements. If you can print a gas turbine blade, you can print pretty much anything,” said Markus Seibold, Vice President AM at Siemens Power & Gas. “The end-to-end software and automation solutions – combined with our comprehensive expertise and our large printer fleet – makes Siemens a world leader in industrializing additive manufacturing, driving productivity, and getting complex 3D-printed parts right the first time. We’re in the unique position of being able to leverage our advanced user expertise to bring these solutions to external customers via Materials Solutions Ltd.”

Siemens recently brought a 100-year-old Ruston Hornsby vintage car back to life using reverse engineering to recreate its steering box. With no original technical drawings available, Siemens digitally reassembled the parts of the broken steering box and created a working model that could be additively manufactured.

Materials Solutions Ltd. has extensive experience serving its customers in some of the most challenging industries, from power generation, aerospace, automotive, and motorsport to tooling and processing. The company has already additively manufactured thousands of functional parts and provided legacy parts through reverse engineering and tooling to over 80 customers worldwide. In 2016, Siemens acquired a majority stake (85 percent) in Materials Solutions Ltd., which was established in 2006.

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Rockwell Automation Joins Initiative to Bring OPC UA to Field-Level Devices

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Rockwell Automation is joining an OPC Foundation initiative to extend the OPC UA protocol to field-level industrial communications.

Under the initiative, a series of working groups are being formed to bring the OPC UA protocol’s vendor-independent, end-to-end interoperability to field-level devices. The initiative plans to address use cases not currently in scope for EtherNet/IP. It could also simplify other use cases, especially in multi-vendor, controller-to-controller environments and for the vertical integration of field devices.

“Rockwell Automation has always supported the development and use of open standards,” said Paul Brooks, business development manager, Rockwell Automation. “Extending the OPC UA protocol to the field level or shop floor can help simplify system development and accelerate a company’s journey to a Connected Enterprise.”

As the primary author of the EtherNet/IP specifications, Rockwell Automation understands EtherNet/IP users may see compatibility risks in technology developed for a different ecosystem. The company intends to mitigate these risks through both its ongoing development of EtherNet/IP and its intentions for the OPC UA protocol.

Rockwell Automation’s priorities within the new OPC Foundation initiative include working to help ensure the following:

OPC UA specifications are written with the same level of rigor and completeness as the EtherNet/IP specifications.
Time-sensitive networking (TSN) is commonly applied across the OPC UA, EtherNet/IP and PROFINET protocols, so all three can coexist on a common TSN-based network.
OPC UA pub/sub technology is implemented in a way that allows existing EtherNet/IP installations to support OPC UA devices.
OPC UA hardware requirements allow the protocol to be deployed on hardware platforms that are common in today’s EtherNet/IP components.
OPC UA software requirements allow the protocol to be deployed within current EtherNet/IP-centric software tools without significant changes to user workflows.
Conformance test practices mandated for EtherNet/IP reflect the necessary requirements for OPC UA conformance testing.

“We are committed to these priorities to help make sure EtherNet/IP users have a choice of whether and when they migrate to the new OPC UA protocol,” Brooks said. “We want users to determine the pace of this migration based on the value that they receive, rather than technology choices made in the specification. We trust that others engaged in the initiative will share this common goal.”

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[#SPS] Weidmüller and KEBA announced strengthened partnership for digitalisation and automation

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The electronics company Weidmüller and the Austrian expert for industrial automation KEBA are now collaborating to complement each other’s digitalisation and automation portfolios.

Both companies announced this partnership on the occasion of SPS 2018 in Nuremberg. The collaboration focuses on shared offers for industrial automation technology with a focus on the area of machinery and plant engineering. Both companies also want to promote the utilisation of artificial intelligence (AI) in automation.

Weidmüller and KEBA partnership

Weidmüller and KEBA partnership for automation solutions

“We are happy to have found an experienced partner in industrial automation with KEBA who will help to complement our automation expertise. Combining u-control and the KEBA Engineering Suite ideally supports our customers with the implementation of ambitious automation concepts and Industry 4.0 solutions,” explains Volker Bibelhausen, CTO of the Weidmüller Group.

Michael Matthesius, Head of the Automation Products & Solutions division at Weidmüller sees this the same way: “When two excellent companies like Weidmüller and KEBA cooperate, our customers can be sure that one plus one will equal more than two in this case.”

Gerhard Luftensteiner, CEO of KEBA AG adds: “We are convinced that our product and service offerings for industrial customers complement each other ideally. From now on, customers looking for excellent digitalisation and automation solutions for Industry 4.0 will benefit from our combined expertise.”

With the cooperation, Weidmüller with its headquarters in Detmold, Germany, and KEBA based in Linz, Austria, are striving for a coordinated representation at the customer with a focus on the area of machinery and plant engineering in their respective markets. In so doing, the partners will mutually provide relevant components of their portfolios to each other.

KEBA will mainly contribute its open software solutions and parts of its control architecture, while Weidmüller will primarily contribute its u-mation product family expanded for SPS 2018 and its innovative industrial analytics offerings to the collaboration. Both companies rely on a close collaboration to further develop the product, solution and service offerings.

KEBA, founded in 1968 in Linz, is an expert for industrial automation with a focus on series machine engineering, robotics and plastics engineering as well as banking automation, electric mobility, logistics solutions, lottery solutions and heating controls.

Weidmüller, based in Detmold, Germany, is an expert for automation, digitalisation, communication and connecting components such as software and solutions, especially for industry. Both companies are privately owned.

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