Pneumatics in the Age of IIoT

Nov. 2, 2018
Using Industrial Internet of Things pneumatic solutions to improve OEE, energy efficiency and agile manufacturing.

You can’t control what you can’t measure. That’s where the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) comes in. As the IIoT continues to gain traction in factories, manufacturers need a way to convert the enormous amounts of data from sensors, actuators and connected devices into opportunities to drive production efficiency—a trend that extends to pneumatics. You heard that right—pneumatics. Industry’s tried and true motion control technology remains relevant in the age of IIoT. Here’s why.

To improve your operation with IIoT technologies, it’s important to deploy solutions that can deliver on three key metrics over the course of your product’s lifecycle: overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), energy efficiency and agile manufacturing.

To better understand this, let’s explore three pneumatic technologies that, today, leverage IIoT technologies such as an IoT gateway, an app-controlled pneumatic valve and a mobile maintenance app. These technologies not only enhance operational metrics, they can propel your operation further into the digital age.

OEE and energy efficiency

The Festo IoT Gateway is a device that connects our pneumatic components and modules from the field level to the cloud. It works by collecting information about connected devices via an Ethernet connection and standardized communication protocol. It then sends the information to the cloud via a second Ethernet connection using IoT protocols, such as AMQP or MQTT.

Component data is prepared and monitored in the cloud—enabling users to easily analyze trends in Festo MyDashboards. These predefined dashboards, which display energy monitoring and maintenance metrics for all products and subsystems, require no additional programming and provide a number of operational benefits. For example:

  • Dashboards improve OEE by displaying valuable component metrics that can be used to enhance overall productivity.
  • Improving energy efficiency lowers operating costs.
  • Condition monitoring and diagnostic capabilities reduce downtime and accelerate maintenance.
  • Data available anywhere at any given time can be used to improve operational transparency for production managers and operators alike.

Agile manufacturing

A second example of an effective IIoT-enabled pneumatic technology is the Festo Motion Terminal VTEM, which decouples pneumatics from mechanical hardware. This decoupling allows control functions to be made available through easy-to-use motion apps. At the push of a button, users can perform a wide range of motion tasks using a single valve type—integrating complex movements, variable positioning, condition monitoring and many other smart functionalities. Thanks to these features, the VTEM leads to unprecedented levels of manufacturing flexibility. It also reduces system complexity and enables new data analysis and condition monitoring capabilities.

Like the IoT Gateway, predefined cloud-based dashboards, which display energy monitoring and maintenance metrics, are available for the VTEM—improving equipment OEE and energy efficiency as well.

Maintenance app

Festo Smartenance is one of our first exclusively digital products. This intuitive app, accessible anywhere from the cloud, enables users to schedule, monitor and evaluate system maintenance. Easy to install, Smartenance is a simple, low-cost way for manufacturers to eliminate manual, time-consuming preventive maintenance processes.

Smartenance consists of two parts. First, a mobile maintenance schedule app allows system operators to receive all necessary maintenance information directly on their smartphone or tablet. It also includes a central dashboard accessible via a web browser. This dashboard lets production managers view urgent tasks and maintenance feedback provided by the system operators. Thanks to this peer-review system, Smartenance eliminates time-consuming communication and coordination between operators and managers—enhancing equipment OEE and improving overall system reliability. Future plans for Smartenance include incorporating pre-configured maintenance plans, as well as deploying prescriptive capabilities in the form of online warnings from the dashboards.

To learn more about Festo’s Internet-enabled pneumatic technologies, including the role we’re playing in making the IIoT vision a reality, visit our website at

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