In April, more than 180,000 visitors from 100 countries descended on Hannover, Germany, to experience the latest in what’s possible in industrial technology. Under the theme of "Integrated Industry: Next Steps,” many of Europe's major factory automation suppliers fielded booth demonstrations designed to illustrate their visions of next-generation, advanced manufacturing capabilities.
"Industrie 4.0” is an initiative of the German government intended to foster the country’s manufacturing competitiveness by leveraging the potential of cyber-physical systems and ubiquitous network connectivity to create more efficient and productive factories, work processes and supply chains.
"Industry 4.0 will be with us sooner than many people would have thought possible just one short year ago,” said Jochen Köckler, member of the managing board for Deutsche Messe, Hannover Fair’s organizer. "Exhibitors have demonstrated a clear commitment to negotiating the next steps on the road to the fourth industrial revolution rapidly and purposefully.”
Throughout the automation halls, the integration of design and manufacturing platforms was apparent as RFID-badged products moved through modular production lines carrying instructions for their own manufacture along for the ride. Tablet computers and smartphones interfaced directly with automation controllers or reached up through secure cloud connections to ease engineering and integration tasks, and enable new information transparency.
Secure Communications a Given
Underpinning any effort toward building a more connected industrial supply chain is the need for cybersecurity. Siemens and ABB were among the companies announcing new efforts in this arena at Hannover.
Siemens has significantly deepened its relationship with McAfee, a division of Intel Security, to build industrial-specific security solutions leveraging next-generation firewalls, security information and event management (SIEM), endpoint security and global threat intelligence. These offerings are intended to provide greater visibility and control at the factory level, while also reducing the risk of intellectual property theft.
"Industrial security is one of the building blocks for strong demand of connected manufacturing environments and for the continued resurgence of manufacturing globally,” said Siegfried Russwurm, CEO of Siemens Industry. "This partnership will be an important foundation for the future of manufacturing and Industrie 4.0.”
By combining forces, Siemens, Intel and McAfee intend to drive the adoption of connected, managed and secured solutions at the plant level to help industrial customers manage their security, while bringing the uptime and reliability of the plant operations to a higher level as well, explained Michael Fey, worldwide chief technology officer at McAfee. "We must build new solutions that secure operations, but also enable the user,” Fey said.
ABB, meanwhile, unveiled its 800xA v6 process control system, a major new release that fundamentally "reloads” ABB’s 10-year-old concept of Industrial IT, according to Tobias Becker, head of ABB’s global control products business unit. "V6 bundles everything we’ve learned in the past 10 years,” Becker says.