Have you ever been to a country whose language you do not speak? I suppose so. Then you must have noticed how important it is to be able to communicate. What we humans can often still imply with our hands and feet is more difficult in Industrie 4.0. Because even machines speak different languages. The research project BaSys 4.0 and its successor project BaSys 4.2 aim to solve this problem.
Industrie 4.0 is not just the name for a new technology. It is rather a complete production concept. The aim is to make production more versatile so that it can adapt more quickly to new quality requirements and changing production demands. Production in batch size 1 should thus become reality. But this is only possible if one machine knows what the other one is doing. All components of production must therefore be connected with each other and be able to exchange information.
Better with the right vocabulary than with hands and feet
For this it is important to speak the same language. Imagine that you have to explain complex industrial processes and you don’t know the language of your counterpart. Even with your hands and feet you would quickly reach your limits. “A uniform vocabulary and the right interfaces with the right tools for the job are important for this”, says Dr. Jürgen Bock, Cluster Manager “Smart Data and Infrastructures” and Project Manager at KUKA.
The joint project “Basic System Industrie 4.0” (BaSys 4.0), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), in which KUKA worked together with 14 other partners from research and industry, was devoted precisely to this complex problem. The overriding goal was to develop a basic software system – the BaSys 4.0 middleware – that would enable communication between different Industrie 4.0 components. “As an automation specialist, KUKA focused primarily on versatile production systems and provided a realistic production environment,” explains Bock.
Cooperation with the Industry 4.0 platform and various trade associations played a decisive role in this. Together they designed a so-called administration shell, a general communication interface. It represents the digital twin of a component and contains all information in a standardized form. The idea behind it: the unification of the information also increases changeability, because components with the same capabilities can be exchanged with each other without much effort.
Foundation for further research
The results of the BaSys 4.0 research project are now laying the foundation for further developments in the field of Industrie 4.0 and for the successor project BaSys 4.2, which is also funded by the BMBF. Although many companies would like to digitize, they fail because of hurdles such as high costs or the incompatibility of their different machines. In addition, downtimes of a plant should be optimized in order to create continuous production and the two areas of manufacturing and process industry should be unified.