What a difference two years makes. At MACH 2016, Industry 4.0 was pretty low key; this time around you’ll be hard pushed to avoid it, as our MACH 2018 introductory article clearly highlights (p10). That said, MACH exhibition organiser the Manufacturing Technologies Association was already onto it in 2016. Andy Hodgson, general manager of drives and motion control at Siemens in the UK (https://is.gd/zazesa), had already been appointed the organisation’s board member champion for Industry 4.0, and he gave an interview to Machinery at MACH 2016 (read the article online at: https://is.gd/ulavoj).

To reduce Industry 4.0 to four key elements that may prove useful as a guide in framing thinking for MACH 2018, it can be distilled thus: equipment fitted with sensors; local software to analyse data from those sensors, providing both real-time and predictive information; larger volumes of data (big data) from many pieces of equipment analysed by powerful computers and artificial intelligence (AI) software in the cloud (internal or external) to reveal patterns not otherwise discernible; digital twins of equipment or systems to allow for offline real-world simulation, without disturbing the physical system. There will be varying levels of capability, complexity, automation and autonomy within that very simple framework, however.

Many CNC machine tools already have sensors in them that support data capture and which prompt action, of course; Mazak’s (https://is.gd/ukupih) Intelligent Performance Spindle (IPS) capability, for example, monitors a variety of properties via sensors housed in the spindle – including temperature, vibration and displacement – and provides useful information to the operator. Others employ thermal sensors, such as Okuma with its TAS-C (Thermal Active Stabilizer – Casting) technology. In an early Industry 4.0 demonstrator, however, DMG Mori (https://is.gd/omawuy) and bearing specialist Schaeffler (https://is.gd/kivina) worked together to build a machine having 60 sensors that transmitted digitised information on components from the sensors to the cloud for the purposes of data collection, storage and analysis. With a machine presented at the EMO 2015 exhibition in Italy, DMG Mori now offers this technology, while Schaeffler has been working on how to convert the data into practical machining knowledge.

But integration upstream into the wider world of production and business systems is the Industry 4.0 big vision, with production equipment being part of an interconnected world via the Internet of Things (IoT), some calling it the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). These wider connection possibilities will likely best be explored in MACH’s new ‘IT for Manufacturing Zone’.

A simple machine-centric example of this interconnected world was given by Citizen Machinery (https://is.gd/ajoxim) at last year’s EMO show in Germany. New Italy-written Industry 4.0 software was given a first showing, with three stand machines (two Miyano and one Citizen) connected to manufacturing execution system (MES) software receiving orders that auto started the machines to produce three parts that would become a miniature engineer’s vice, with the recipient getting an email to confirm when his ‘order’ would be ready for collection – the MES software displayed machine production statistics on the stand, too. In fact, this was a simplified example of an Italian installation at pneumatic components maker Metal Work that comprises eight Citizen machines that are permanently tooled and ready to receive orders from around the globe via, at the top level, SAP software.

Within this new Industry 4.0 world, we are increasingly coming into contact with smartphone and IT language – apps and platforms. We have apps at the machine tool CNC interface, DMG Mori’s CELOS control (see app list: https://is.gd/muwaza), for instance, and we have cloud-based app platforms such as Siemens MindSphere (see app list here: https://is.gd/falunu), which lets customers connect machines and physical infrastructure to the digital world. FANUC will be rolling out its Industry 4.0 architecture in October this year in Europe, called FIELD (FANUC Intelligent Edge Link and Drive). The company also proposes an open app store that allows customers to call down apps that have been written by third parties for use on FANUC CNCs.

A further app platform was launched by a collective of machine tool and IT firms last year, called ADAMOS (read more here: https://is.gd/xiwimo). This is aimed at machine tool builders who will be able to offer apps (from the ADAMOS App Factory) to their users without necessarily having to develop their own apps or platform. Cutting tool specialist Sandvik Coromant (https://is.gd/uxiput) also has an app platform via subsidiary company Walter AG’s Comara appCom, which similarly offers machine manufacturers and industrial companies their own platform for individual apps.

Cutting tool firm Komet (https://is.gd/aqumis) has also invested heavily in connected tooling and cloud services (read https://is.gd/ilarit); Komet has recently been bought by Ceratizit (https://is.gd/lewime), which at last year’s EMO exhibition also laid out its emerging Industry 4.0 connected tool technology.

It is quite possible that your first thoughts at MACH 2018 will not be about Industry 4.0, but more on selecting your next piece of production technology hardware. Regardless, Industry 4.0 development is travelling fast and, between the pull of increasingly available standard plug-and-play technology and the OEM push for supply chain integration, it will touch firms more quickly than might be imagined, Machinery suggests.

An edited version of an article first published in Machinery January 2018