Enabling Industry 4.0 with Integrated Automation and Cloud Innovation

How a three-layer architecture comprising intelligent machines and robots, connected factory technologies, and Internet of Things enablement are part of Advantech’s Industry 4.0 blueprint.

The future of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) relies on powerful IT systems that can process and store the information in a fast and efficient manner from anywhere. With fast networking, whether using GSM, Wi-Fi or GPRS, powerful processors and faster memory, the latest technology will improve the functionality of any factory or industrial automation project.

For Advantech’s Industrial Automation Group, 2015 is the year of Industry 4.0. We’ve developed a three-layer architecture—intelligent machines and robots; connected iFactory solutions; and enabling the IIoT—as part of our Industry 4.0 blueprint. With these layers and the integration of information, quick response and flexible manufacturing, the overall effectiveness and efficiency of machine automation will be highly improved.

To address the needs of different vertical markets, Advantech leverages its WebAccess + IoT Solution Alliance program. WebAccess is an integrated IIoT Software Suite and Solution Platform, and is the core software component of Advantech’s IIoT solutions. As an equipment provider, Advantech developed this software platform to support system integrator partners in integrating the various applications and hardware they develop. The platform combines smart HMI/SCADA software, remote device management software and intelligent video software. It also connects with industrial cloud platforms, and analyzes and manages large amounts of data, video and voice data, providing critical information anytime, anywhere for management by industrial customers, effectively realizing the vision of Industry 4.0.

For intelligent machines and robotics, we offer a range of products and technologies, including motion control, machine vision, automation computing, and integrated machine tools and robot controllers. With these advanced technologies, traditional industrial automation machines will become more intelligent and able to communicate, transforming the machines into cyber-physical systems that can become even more efficient.

In an Industry 4.0 environment, all machines and equipment are networked and contain a plethora of sensors to continuously provide status details and production information to the process control system so it can perform immediate analysis and quickly take any necessary actions. By analyzing machine use by each operator, sensors can be developed that will adjust the settings of the machine based on who’s operating it. This information can then be integrated into manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. To reach these goals, Advantech provides solutions to enable network-connected iFactories. Our WebAccess + Integrated IoT Software Suite and Solution Platform can connect machines, robots and equipment to the factory network and integrate them with systems such as MES and ERP systems.

Another of our efforts is to enable innovative services based on Big Data analysis. By continuously producing status reports of plant equipment and production information, Big Data analysis allows system engineers to plan for future maintenance and make changes to configurations at the most appropriate time, thereby reducing the amount of downtime. The endless stream of information is an excellent method of developing new applications and creative services and can be used to increase production and reduce overhead.

For example, traditional machine maintenance relies on human judgment, which can be less than precise. With Big Data analysis of machine tool bearing vibration, we can configure the model to determine when the bearings might fail, thus developing a predictive maintenance system. With this knowledge, maintenance can be performed during non-operational times and not affect regular operations, thereby improving overall operational efficiency.

Industry 4.0, IIoT, cloud services and Advantech’s solutions for system integrators will help lead factories into the future.

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