Manufacturing News

German high-tech trade fair shows off “Industry 4.0” technology

Germany is positioning itself as a champion of the ”industry 4.0 revolution”, with a “smart factory” and other futuristic concepts displayed at the high-tech CeBIT trade fair in Hanover.

"The Internet has become an integral part of industry," said Angela Merkel, the country’s Chanceller, who inaugurated the fair.

AFP and others report that DFKI demonstrated its “smart factory” at CeBIT, with efficiencies gained through connecting the factory to the internet.

“As an example, the DFKI demonstrated how a plastic badge installed with a tiny RFID identification chip instructs the machines involved in its production,” reports Expatica.

“The chip can tell other machines what to engrave on its surface, what colour to paint it or whether to stick on instructions in French, German or Portuguese.”

DFKI also demonstrated eye glasses that beamed instructions to a non-specialist operator, who could be coached in how to repair a machine.

Industry 4.0 or the industrial internet has been described as “Intelligently networked, self-controlling manufacturing systems” and is expected by some to drastically change the way manufacturing is carried out.

It will be the next industrial revolution, according to its enthusiasts, following Industrial Revolution 1.0 in 1780 (the first mechanical manufacturing facilities), 2.0 in 1900 (mass production, division of labour) and 3.0 in 1979 (networked, automated systems).

GE announced late last year that a study of theirs had identified trillion-dollar efficiencies gains could be made world-wide through adopting the technology.

"The full potential of the 'industrial internet' will be felt when the three primary digital elements – intelligent devices, intelligent systems and intelligent automation – fully merge with physical machines, facilities, fleets and networks,” explained GE chief economist Marco Annunziata last year, in comments reported by Manufacturers’ Monthly and others.

GE uses the technology in its newest factory, reports the MIT Technology Review, with over 10,000 sensors throughout connected via an internal ethernet. Employees with iPads are able to access data collected by the sensors through wifi nodes at the Schenectady, New York plant.



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