Principally Industry 4.0 is the smart and safe collection and processing of data on the basis of an intensive exchange of data from all processing tiers. In this context, hardware is an enabler, as well as various core functions embedded in software, and specialized knowledge is essential.
The network provider Cisco has predicted that in 2020 about 50 billion applications will be connected over the Internet of Things (IoT). Although Industry 4.0 is a part of the overall IoT umbrella, it is not a final state that must be reached, but a constantly changing process leading to the development of IoT.
In Germany, research institutes such as the DFKI, the Technologiezentrum OWL and the RWTH Aachen, were the first to concentrate on the topic Industry 4.0. The research department Innovative Fabriksysteme (IFS) of the DFKI (Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz, German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence) created the demonstration platform SmartFactoryKL, whereas the Technology Centre East Westphalia-Lippe (OWL) brings together more than 170 companies and institutions into a technology network dedicated to discussing solutions for Industry 4.0. At the technical university RWTH Aachen more than 20 institutes for materials and for manufacturing technology, in cooperation with Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and prestigious production industry companies, research how to lay a foundation for a sustainable production strategy.
Meanwhile many companies are already active in Industry 4.0, as today there is virtually no other alternative: either you join in or you are in danger of not being a competitive company in the mid or long term. By focusing on Industry 4.0 enterprises sometimes have to alter their business model, but without developing in this direction they are likely to become irrelevant in the future.
Within the scope of Industry 4.0, EBV Elektronik considers itself a supporter of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). EBV advises and proposes components as well as solutions that will help SMEs to jump on the Industry 4.0 bandwagon, which is already evolving rapidly. As EBV Elektronik focuses on those companies that intend to develop components to be used within Industry 4.0, this article concentrates exclusively on development and design of elements for application in Industry 4.0; for instance on the design of a new machine control system.