Digital Simplicity: New Ways to Increase Productivity With Smart Systems

May 10, 2019
New technology behind cyber-physical systems unites traditional pneumatics with electric automation to propel digital pneumatics further into the age of Industry 4.0.

Mechatronic systems bring together mechanical systems, electronics, control technology and information technology—enabling them to interact. These systems enable extensive function integration, including greater system adaptability and standardization. Since fewer components need to be selected, procured, assembled and wired, mechatronic systems lead to significant improvements along the value chain.

Despite all the benefits of modular mechatronic systems, however, there is still room for improvement when it comes to flexibility. This is where a cyber-physical system (CPS) like the Festo Motion Terminal VTEM comes in. The Festo Motion Terminal includes four 2/2-way piezo pilot and diaphragm poppet valves with integrated smart sensors. It offers the traditional valve functions of 2/2-, 3/2-, 4/2- or 4/3-way valves, as well as proportional technology and servo-pneumatic functions—all in one device. Other functions include presetting of travel time, ECO drive and leakage diagnostics.

You can perform all these functions—and more—in a single valve design using motion apps. The Festo Motion Terminal therefore combines all the benefits of pneumatic and electric automation technology and integrates complex movements, variable positioning, condition monitoring and many other functionalities into a single component.

CPS solutions like the Festo Motion Terminal are characterized by maximum flexibility. Even during operation, you can adapt system functions and movements via the software without making major changes to the hardware. You can also implement new functions quickly and easily with a simple software update. As a result, your system is always up to date.

The Festo Motion Terminal VTEM enables one standardized platform for several applications without the need to replace any hardware. It also streamlines and simplifies all phases of the lifecycle of a system:

  • Phase: Make contact. Innovative action begins with the right partner. Ask yourself: Does your supplier operate globally? Can you count on your supplier to successfully deliver further developments in the future? After all, end customers will only invest in a new technology if it offers potential for the future.
  • Phase: Conceptualize. During this phase, designers create the foundation for the plant or system. Smart systems like the Festo Motion Terminal can standardize system hardware while still permitting a fast, flexible response to changes. All functional adaptations are easily realized via motion apps without ever changing existing hardware.
  • Phase: Design and program. The design phase is one of the costliest steps in the value chain—accounting for about 25-30 percent. CPS solutions like the Festo Motion Terminal lead to significant time and cost savings compared with conventional valve terminal platforms. In some cases, the time you save designing and parameterizing a modular valve terminal increases to 70 percent.
  • Phase: Procure. During the procurement phase, a lot of data is processed—including delivery dates, prices, supplier details and stock locations—and then entered and maintained in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. From a cost perspective, this complex task is often included as part of your overhead, which means the costs are not always directly visible. Modular systems like a valve terminal lead to significant savings because you can order several components with one part number. But a CPS makes data management, logistics and warehousing even simpler. These solutions open the door to entirely new business models and delivery times. With the Festo Motion Terminal, you only need to buy the appropriate motion app license to have the functionality you need. The benefits include shorter time to market and higher overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
  • Phase: Assemble. Because human error is often the cause behind system failures, reducing system complexity is becoming more important than ever. Solutions with intelligent function integration and fewer interfaces are therefore ideal for achieving maximum efficiency. These features reduce assembly work, as well as possible errors and queries that might arise. Having just one standardized component also optimizes process sequences for a wide range of functions.
  • Phase: Commission. Coordinating individual process steps, such as setting the travel speeds of cylinders, is a time-consuming process in conventional mechatronic systems. CPS solutions, on the other hand, don’t involve complex manual setting processes. They are also self-regulating and self-optimizing in terms of their energy consumption—benefiting machine builders even further.
  • Phase: Operate. When it comes to cutting costs, improving sustainability and meeting strict legal regulations, the spotlight is increasingly on energy efficiency. The Festo Motion Terminal offers an ECO drive app that saves on annual energy costs.
  • Phase: Modernize. Modernization serves many purposes, including increasing system output, expanding the range of products and reducing operating costs. CPS solutions save energy, improve process efficiency and allow you to easily adjust an entire machine series.

New dimensions in automation

Digitization will profoundly alter the world of production. Since the Festo Motion Terminal is uncoupling pneumatic functions from the mechanical hardware for the first time, a wide range of pneumatic motion tasks can be performed with just a single valve type. This design offers many measurable benefits along the entire value chain.

The Festo Motion Terminal enables many complex movements—including various speed profiles and positioning tasks—that were formerly only possible with servo-pneumatics or electrical automation. This CPS solution makes it easier than ever to realize a wide range of functions, condition monitoring and preventive maintenance, all while expending less energy. The results are simplified processes, increased productivity and better process reliability.

For more information, visit Festo at

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