Beckhoff Automation Showcases Industry 4.0 Concepts at IMTS 2014

Aug. 21, 2014
Beckhoff Automation is set to bring leading-edge Industry 4.0 concepts to attendees of the IMTS trade show, held September 8 – 13, 2014 in Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Beckhoff Automation is set to bring leading-edge Industry 4.0 concepts to attendees of the IMTS trade show, held September 8 – 13, 2014 in Chicago’s McCormick Place. In the march toward Industry 4.0, the 4th Industrial Revolution, PC-based control technology provides the ideal toolbox to implement the leading automation concepts of our time. These include the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, highly-centralized automation systems, and ever-more connected devices via industrial Ethernet and OPC UA.

As a framework and set of flexible tools to implement such big ideas, PC-based control technology has become the leading standard to turn future-forward Industry 4.0 concepts into profitable ‘smart factories’. In booth E-4905 in the Industrial Automation North America (IANA) section, Beckhoff will exhibit a range of advanced solutions, including a demo that highlights the use of Google Glass in automation, all-in-one robot and machine control, and standard OPC UA connectivity solutions.

Targeted automation solutions for machine tool and CNC applications
Whether the machine builder needs revolutionary or evolutionary migration to enhanced machine control, Beckhoff offers a complete line of solutions for machine tool and CNC applications. Using a scalable line of PC-based controllers, the productivity of manufacturing facilities can be increased. In addition, automation system design becomes ‘leaner’, and the costs for hardware, engineering, commissioning, and maintenance are decreased considerably.

The Beckhoff CNC platform is suitable for all industries, manufacturing facilities, and machine kinematics: from compact dental machining centers and woodworking machines to complex plasma cutting and welding machines. The CNC solution from Beckhoff is scalable and modular, meeting the exact requirements of flexible and multifunctional machine concepts.

Many machine tool and CNC users are already utilizing Beckhoff PC-based controllers for connectivity with enterprise database management systems, performing remote maintenance over the Internet or requesting cloud-based services. Beckhoff will demonstrate these and other technologies, functions, and services live this September at IMTS. The Power of One controls philosophy from Beckhoff (one PC-based controller, one software platform, and one network), allows leading manufacturers and machine builders to make great strides in establishing Industry 4.0 practices, while ensuring that lean automation designs and streamlined control system architectures remain intact.

Industry 4.0 meets Google Glass in the Beckhoff booth
Beckhoff is presenting a technology study at IMTS that demonstrates Google Glass as a new concept for machine operation in an Industry 4.0 framework. The ‘augmented reality glasses,’ which were primarily developed for the consumer market, integrate a heads-up display for information and a digital camera, among numerous other features. As demonstrated by Beckhoff, Google Glass can also be used in industrial environments as a ‘wearable HMI’ for machine operation and observing plant production.

For example, Google Glass allows access to status and dialogue messages, or additional information such as documentation, web pages, or videos. The service technician, for example, can access the properties, history, or current status of the sensor or actuator by reading a QR code on a motor or limit switch. Andreas Thome, Beckhoff Product Manager for PC Control, comments on the use of the Google glasses in production: “Google Glass has the potential to change or at least to supplement the operating philosophy on machines. The Google glasses represent a good example of the fusion of Internet technology and automation technology within the framework of Industry 4.0.”

Efficient Industry 4.0 engineering with TwinCAT 3 and EtherCAT
In moving Industry 4.0 forward, TwinCAT 3.1 software from Beckhoff contains an updated feature set, aimed at making engineering simpler and more effective for all aspects of machine automation and control. Configurations and programs can be revision-controlled and compared in a source code administration tool. TwinCAT Automation Interface – an interface for automatic code generation – enables yet another increase in efficiency. In a multi-core system, individual cores can be reserved for the exclusive use of TwinCAT 3 in the runtime. Thus, 100% of the resources of that core are reserved exclusively for TwinCAT.

On the networking side, the EtherCAT industrial Ethernet system is an established industry standard for the demanding requirements of automation applications. Leveraging outstanding performance and topology characteristics, the real-time fieldbus can be used for all machine communication, and is an I/O, safety, and drive bus system all in one. Beckhoff offers a universal and complete system for EtherCAT, from the controller to the safe servo drive for accurate and highly dynamic positioning tasks.

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