The official theme of this year’s Fair was “Integrated Industry – Join the Network” but the real theme was “Industry 4.0,” sometimes spelled the German way “Industrie 4.0.” And PROFINET, PROFIBUS, and IO-Link feed the Industrial Internet of Things portion of Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 was noted in every booth in some way. The best explanation of Industry 4.0 was in the ABB booth as part of the official Industry 4.0 tour that the Fair offered. ABB said that Industry 4.0 has three components: things, services, and people.
The people portion is interesting in that it includes people involved in Industry 4.0, but recognizes that different preparation and training may be needed. This has included references to women in engineering and STEM education as part of this component.
Services has a 2-prong explanation. Think of software services, of course, but also new kinds of services like remote monitoring of an OEM’s machine by the OEM for preventative maintenance purposes.
Things introduces the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) approach. Around the Fair some referred to IIoT, but many referred to just the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT label is inappropriate for automation. IIoT and IoT are two different things. See the PROFIblog post “IIoT is not IoT.”
The common, surprising phrase related to Industry 4.0 was “lot size of one.” Customization or personalization was everywhere. In the SAP booth they had a model production line assembling customized components into a unique part. This included a metal insert with the visitor’s initials. They spoke of OPC UA connecting to the SAP system, but in the control cabinet were PROFINET and PROFIBUS components.
Some fair-goers said that Industry 4.0 and IIoT were where industry was headed anyway, but now there is a name for it. The Industry 4.0 and IIoT names provide automation with broader exposure to upper management. Automation news is now not just in automation trade magazines but also in the Wall Street Journal.
PI technologies (PROFINET, PROFIBUS, and even IO-Link) are an important feeding mechanism, providing data to the IIoT and thence to Industry 4.0.