An Alliance für IIoT or 7 industry leaders announce foundation of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance: Headlines like these were in the media at the beginning of April 2019. At the Hannover Messe 2019, European companies from the mechanical engineering, industrial automation and software sectors drove the foundation of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance forward with a detailed cooperation agreement. KUKA is one of the founding members.
Customer-centric, interoperable and open: These three aspects best describe the foundation on which the Alliance is built. Why is that necessary? This is due to the production reality. Every company has individual requirements and machines from different manufacturers. The big challenge lies in how these different machines can be connected – simply and from a single source. But this lacks a coordinated framework for interoperability – the ability of independent systems to work together as seamlessly as possible to exchange information efficiently. The aim is for all machines to speak “the same language”.
Companies belonging to the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance are committed to implementing uniform standards for end-to-end communication between machines. The framework includes agreement on existing industrial communication standards such as I/O Link, OPC UA or NAMUR. The fact that different machines can be networked with each other is the basis for the fourth industrial revolution.
Overcoming manufacturer-specific isolated solutions
Industry 4.0 means intelligently networking production-relevant components with each other – be it screwdrivers, robots, machine tools or entire plants. But Industry 4.0 also means complexity. In theory, networking and digitization within industry requires perfection, which is rarely found in practice. One goal of the founding members of the Alliance: up to 80% of the machines in a Smart Factory should speak the same language. This is intended to overcome manufacturer-specific isolated solutions and give a boost to digital transformation within the industry.
The next step: Customer-centric and manufacturer-independent use cases enable
At the moment there is more and more a rethinking taking place. Instead of focussing on asset management within a company, the focus is increasingly on the process. It must be shown and analyzed transparently. This requires a cross-manufacturer use case – an application that applies the advantages of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance in practice.
The Alliance – an open ecosystem
Openness refers to the fact that any company can join the Alliance. There are no hurdles for new members. The Alliance is an open, standardized ecosystem. In order to survive in the world of digitization, companies must open up. The Alliance’s first proof-of-concepts were already completed in 2018 – for example at KUKA with its versatile and flexible matrix production. The founding members are currently preparing for a first exhibition in the fall of 2019. The Alliance’s focus countries will initially be Germany, from 2020 Europe and then Asia and the Americas.
Source of the header image: © Beckhoff Automation/CP-IMAC