The "Smart Factory" only works in the harmonious interaction between man and his colleague, the robot

Endless rows of industrial robots that routinely assemble products on conveyor belts - around the clock and in deserted production halls. This scenario is often painted when we talk about the factory of the future. The reality is different, because the modern factory only works if man-machine communication runs smoothly. The fact is: Industry 4.0 will significantly change the production as we know it. Classic processes and the Internet are growing together. Digitalization cannot be stopped. But this does not make people superfluous, as a study by PwC shows, which we already mentioned in our blog article "Industry 4.0 and IoT drive growth in the manufacturing industry" in March 2018.


The networked industry, the digital factory, the industrial Internet - just a few topics that were in the spotlight at this year's industrial trade fair in Hanover. "The Hanover Fair has shown that the visions of networked productions are now becoming reality," says Bitkom President Achim Berg. "We are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution. Industry and IT belong together more than ever - this became tangible in Hanover."


Already today, every fourth machine in German factories is smart and works in a network. This is the result of a representative survey conducted by Bitkom among 553 industrial companies with 100 or more employees. According to this, 24 percent of the machines and plants in German companies are already connected to the Internet. "Much has changed in recent years in the area of Industry 4.0. Machine-to-machine communication is a reality in factories," says Bitkom President Achim Berg. "Now it's a matter of upgrading the entire machine park and turning entire business models from analog to digital."


One of four machines is already smart


Kontron supports on the way to the Smart Factory

Bitkom study proves: in German industrial companies every fourth machine is smart and connected to the Internet.


Kontron supports on the way to the Smart Factory

As a supplier of industrial computers and embedded devices, Kontron has built up a broad know-how over many years and has extensive expertise in all aspects of control computers and embedded computers. Our solutions are used in demanding environments around the globe. The merger with our parent company S&T has enabled us to further expand our experience with Smart Factory concepts. With comprehensive solutions in the area of embedded computing, we already offer industrial companies mature concepts for the "Internet of Things" (IoT) and accompany them on their way to the Smart Factory and into the age of Industry 4.0.


With SUSiEtec from our sister company S&T Technologies, for example, we are presenting our own platform that easily integrates the various components of a Smart Factory environment. Even private or public clouds, such as Microsoft Azure, can be easily integrated into a concept for a modern industrial environment. Standards such as Open Platform Communications - Unified Architecture (IEC 62541 OPC UA) in conjunction with Time Sensitive Networking (IEEE 802.1 TSN) form the basis for the successful implementation of such concepts. These are particularly important because they can establish the connection between the field level and the IT level independently of the device and operating system. With TSN, convergent Ethernet-based networks can be implemented and thus allow time-synchronized, deterministic communication processes in parallel to the classical data traffic of IT. They are absolutely essential for networked machine controls and processes in real time. Kontron's solution offers accuracies of less than 100ns for clock synchronization between Kontron network components. More information can be found here on the S&T Technologies website.


Smart Factory made easy

Kontron's TSN starter kit, which we presented at the embedded world trade fair earlier this year, has also been available since March 2018. An important part of the package is the Kontron TSN network card. The Kontron Box PCs (KBox C series), 19-inch servers (ZINC 19 2U/4U), embedded servers (ZINC CUBE) and workstations (HPW 410) can thus be easily expanded. However, the card can be used independently of manufacturers and is available to machine manufacturers or system integrators for their solutions.


Kontron Box PCs

With industrial computers (Embedded Box PC), such as the Kontron KBox C-102 with integrated TSN network card, the necessary cables and real-time software for Linux, a complete package is available, that forms the basis for a future-oriented industrial network. This allows companies to easily establish a continuous connection between the field level, OT and IT. Further information can be found on our website here.


Kontron supports customers on their way to the Smart Factory while helping them meet the challenges posed by edge, fog, and cloud architectures. Together with S&T Technologies, we offer the necessary software and consulting know-how. This helps our customers to realize their IoT scenarios without detour. In this way we make our customers fit for Industry 4.0 and the Smart Factory!


Cover picture: Fotolia © nirutft

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