The Golden Route to Industrie 4.0 in batch size 1

Manufacturers’ Monthly discovers the new generation myPNOZ safety relay from PILZ.


Safety relays are used to safely monitor functions on machines, such as E-STOP or two-hand control on presses. The new safety relay, myPNOZ, from German automation company PILZ, who in 1987, launched the world’s first ever safety relay, offers millions of options for device structure and configuration with its various device classes and modules.

In order to offer tailor-made safety, PILZ created a universal digital foundation for its latest product. The aim is to work with customers to manufacture their individual automation product.

myPNOZ is aimed at plant and machine builders and automation specialists in all industries, who wish to cover two to sixteen safety functions and don’t wish to use engineering software.

Countless possibilities, one product

The first step sees users record their requirements online via the online tool myPNOZ Creator. In the myPNOZ Creator, users assemble the complete solution to meet their requirements from a wide range of possibilities.

The users then have a tailor-made product: the logic operations for the safety functions are pre-defined via the plug-in sequence; no software knowledge is required. myPNOZ is delivered ready-to-install. A streamlined configuration and installation process is characteristic of the product.

Due to a continuous, automated workflow, the specifications and all other information pass without media clashes, from order to production, and then dispatch. PILZ is committed to decentralisation. The product is assembled from semi-finished products, fully configured, and undergoes final tests either in the production plants – or, if necessary, directly in the delivery warehouse.

Head of product management at PILZ, Harald Wessels, said the ultimate challenge was to design a production process for a large series, in a way that could also be used to produce in batch size one.

“myPNOZ is a cross-company service, an achievement that covers almost all areas of our company,” he said. “It is deeply rooted in our IT and OT environment, and triggers all the necessary processes from the individually generated range of functions to dispatching and invoicing.

“We adapted the structures in our company too and created new structures wherever it was necessary. We did so in two steps. Step one encompasses all structures in the head office.”

The company can now produce a customer specific combination and deliver it in an optimised time frame.

“With step two, we are currently in the process of decentralising the individualisation in the manufacturing process to decentralise even further. Our overall goal is to implement this new concept that we established with myPNOZ in every PILZ subsidiary worldwide, and in a timely manner,” Wessels said.

New approach to reducing complexity

Managing partner of PILZ, Thomas Pilz, said the creating myPNOZ was more than just developing a new relay hardware.

“The general way of handling a PILZ product is also completely new, both for us and the customer. We are not re-inventing the world of safe automation, we are designing it differently, to offer customers greater convenience,” he said. “myPNOZ offers users a wholly new customer experience with regard to the selection, ordering and installation of industrial components. Tool support simplifies selection and ordering, helping to prevent errors. This is an extremely important point, particularly with safety relays whose job is to protect human and machine.”

By providing the myPNOZ Creator, networking all the necessary production processes and, for example, using special assembly benches, we have succeeded in mastering the complexity harboured within such an individualised product.”

Interaction between automation, IT and OT

The basis for one-off manufacturing of products with greater type diversity, as is the case with myPNOZ, is the networking of automation, OT (Operational Technology) and IT.

“What’s interesting is that the product development alone is not responsible for digital business models; it’s essential that the IT department in particular is involved. Each time the conversation within companies turns to Industrie 4.0, it is imperative that the IT infrastructure is included from the start,” said Pilz.

“myPNOZ is deeply rooted in our IT and OT environment, and triggers all the necessary processes from the individually generated range of functions to dispatching and invoicing,” said PILZ managing partner, Susanne Kunschert.

PILZ reconsidered the entire process, from the idea, to development, and technical implementation, as well as the order of processes and production, and the testing process.

“The overall goal is to implement this new concept that we established with myPNOZ in every PILZ subsidiary worldwide, and in a timely manner. To this end, the quality, testing, and documentation process had to be adapted accordingly, including the associated tools that we have expanded,” Kunschert said.

“All relevant employees will receive training so that by 2021, all users worldwide will be able to order their own product combination as a single unit, and they will be supplied directly by the PILZ subsidiary that takes care of them.”