Beckhoff: Get ready for the next automation revolution
Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 112 / 2
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Open Industry 4.0 Alliance eyes digital transformation

At Hannover Messe 2019, European companies from the mechanical engineering, industrial automation and software industries announced a cooperation agreement to pursue digital transformation in manufacturing.

THE CHARTER OF THE OPEN INDUSTRY 4.0 Alliance is to create customer value through holistic interoperable Industry 4.0 solutions and services in a common framework powered by an alliance of leading industry partners to drive the digitization of the factory, plant & warehouse of our customers.

The alliance aims at accelerating the digitization in factories, processing plants and warehouses and thereby creating mutual benefits for both the customers and members.

Founding members include Beckhoff, Endress+Hauser Group, Hilscher, ifm, KUKA, MULTIVAC and SAP SE. The alliance is open to all companies; other members include Balluff Group, Gebhardt Fördertechnik, Pepperl+Fuchs, ARVOS GmbH | SCHMIDTSCHE SCHACK, SAMSON and WIKA Alexander Wiegand.


The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance reference architecture framework provides an overview of the solution building blocks that the organization plans to pursue in enabling fast adoption and quick ROI for Industry 4.0 deployments.

Open Industry 4.0 Alliance

Key initiatives and goals include the following:

  • Founders and members endorse an open ecosystem and commit to using an Open Industry 4.0 Alliance Framework to achieve interoperability.
  • The open and interoperable approach provides attractive opportunities for companies of all sizes.
  • The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance aims for 80 percent of the machines in a smart factory to speak the same language.

Members of the alliance are committed to creating a standardized and open ecosystem for operating highly automated factories and plants, including logistics and services. The alliance is working to avoid proprietary stand-alone solutions to better enable digital transformation in European industry. The companies plan to work with future members to create what is known as an Open Industry 4.0 Framework on the basis of existing standards such as IO-Link, OPC UA and RAMI.

Focus on feasibility and benefits

Operations in factories, plants and logistics centers in midmarket and large enterprises are characterized by heterogeneity - with things of many different classes, from many different manufacturers. Proprietary and varying standards in connectivity, data management, IT security and collaboration create additional effort and impede the rapid and comprehensive scaling of Industry 4.0. The founders and members of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance pledged to provide customers with an open, standards-based, and compatible offering for a product′s entire journey - from the object on the factory floor to service.

Customers can select what they need from a set of modular, compatible and scalable solution and service components. In each case, these build on the core competencies of the founders and members of the alliance and represent a low-risk, manufacturer-independent option from existing and known suppliers in the discrete manufacturing and process engineering industries. The connection to SAP solutions helps ensure that business processes such as manufacturing execution, warehouse management or plant maintenance are collaborative across company boundaries with partner companies.

Open and interoperable solutions

The open, standards-based offering of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance includes four modules - Device Connectivity, Edge, Operator Cloud, and Cloud Central - plus an associated service offering. Device Connectivity establishes the connection to the machines and sensors. Edge is the central node for all the important and locally necessary functions in the factory. Operator Cloud is the central node in the customer′s company that an open layer and supports all enterprise-centric functions and applications. Finally, Cloud Central enables the bidirectional exchange of data between companies, such as master data and measurement data from calibrations, as well as information including technical documentation and repair manuals.

The first proofs of concept were completed in 2018, with adaptable and flexible matrix production at KUKA. The aim is to produce additional proofs of concept from members and their customers by mid-2019. The founding members are preparing their first results for the second half of 2019.

What the project partners say

Florian Hermle, Managing Director, Balluff Group: "We want to afford our customers openness and the greatest possible compatibility with our systems, because we are convinced that going it alone in a digital and highly connected world is doomed to failure in the long term."

"That is why we put our trust in an open ecosystem comprising technology, software and partners, which enables us to support our customers with our innovative integrated solutions on the path to the smart factory. We are therefore pleased to be part of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance," he added.

News by Open Industry 4.0 Alliance.


Source: Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 112 / 2
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