Industry 4.0 and MES
Industry 4.0 will have a profound impact on industrial companies in the years to come. The future of industrial manufacturing will be distinguished by the significant customization of the products through the increased flexibility of manufacturing conditions (“mass customization”).
In order to meet the demand for a sharp increase in product variety while significantly decreasing the volume of each variant, pioneering modern manufacturing requires a highly flexible and configurable MES. The ever more rapidly changing consumer behavior with increasingly customized products leads to new product forms and processes. These must be implemented as promptly as possible in order to remain competitive.
A manufacturing process that is managed and controlled by an MES on the shop floor can adapt and expand itself within minutes to allow a new customized product to be manufactured just in time, inexpensively and easily.
Other aspects of Industry 4.0 are the high degree to which customers and business partners are integrated in business and value-added processes and the coupling of product and high-quality services, which opens the way for smart products (hybrid products).
Industry 4.0 requires real-time transparency during manufacturing and the communication of the systems, participants and products involved in the manufacturing process beforehand. And so the communication is efficient and the information flows are logical, an architecture and standardization geared towards Industry 4.0 must be created.
Essentially, most Industry 4.0 experts agree that a number of norms and standards already exist. However, it is not yet possible to apply them clearly, consistently and free of contradictions in the context of Industry 4.0.
With RAMI 4.0, the Industry 4.0 platform has created a framework (described in DIN SPEC 91345), which breaks down the existing norms and standards into manageable parts and provides the complex environment of Industry 4.0 with a clear structure.
RAMI 4.0 is a three-dimensional layered model that juxtaposes the life cycle of a product, a factory, a machine or an assignment with the hierarchy levels of Industry 4.0.
Manufacturing execution systems operate within a manufacturing plant, among other things as an important vertical and horizontal data hub. Thus an MES must inevitably reflect the RAMI 4.0 architecture as well as depict and support the norms and standards of Industry 4.0.
For more than 10 years, SYMESTIC has been focusing on industry standards and avoiding proprietary approaches. The symesticManufacturing® MES is based on the international standard ANSI/ISA-95 and is therefore also investment and future proof under the RAMI 4.0 Reference Architecture.
Various strategy and working groups are working on the Industry 4.0 extension of existing norms and standards. In the years following the completion of this work, components, products and systems of various manufacturers will be able to communicate efficiently, constantly and comprehensively, whether they are field devices, products, or part of the connected world.
In practice, it is apparent that some companies have only a rudimentary grasp on Industry 3.0 and so a basic automation and IT infrastructure must first be created. Even more advanced companies generally have a conventional system environment according to the classic automation pyramid with relatively rigid and outmoded systems that were installed for a specific task. These systems are usually based on proprietary and therefore inflexible data structures. Consequentially, modifications and expansions are very time consuming and costly.
The first step towards Industry 4.0 for most companies is the complete vertical integration and digitization of the systems involved in the manufacturing process via an MES system, which allows real-time transparency. A horizontal integration of individual functionalities is also necessary. In this context, MES, the information hub, is the central element that collects, analyzes, processes and provides the other systems with the big data.
This makes it possible to achieve enormous cost savings and economies of scale. Management has genuine real-time information for its decision-making processes. The results of any action taken can be directly measured, identified and then corrected as needed.
The Industry 4.0 vision assumes the secure communication and cooperation of all participants across companies in real time for the entire lifetime of the product.
This has a variety of benefits along the entire value chain. It improves the ability to respond to individualized customer needs and makes it more profitable to manufacture individual units and small quantities. The flexibility is progressing through the dynamic design of business processes via the Internet in various dimensions as well as agile engineering processes. The information that Industry 4.0 provides together with, for example, big data, social media, and cloud computing, make it possible to optimize the decision-making process, secure design decisions early on and respond flexibly to disturbances, as well as optimize all the resources across more than one site.