Making Today's Technology Read for the Factory of the Future

Making Today's Technology Read for the Factory of the Future

By Rodney Rusk, i4.0 Business Leader, Bosch Rexroth Corp

What is the Factory of the Future? It’s a smart, connected, flexible production environment defined by increased productivity with reduced downtime, data transparency, previously untapped levels of customization and improved safety capabilities, all combining to create more profitable production processes.

At the heart of the Factory of the Future is the automation and IoT software that has the potential to transform existing manufacturing technologies—everything from hydraulics to linear motion to assembly technology—into systems with the flexibility, individuality and scalability to make the Factory of the Future a reality today.

The Factory of the Future and Hydraulics

In almost all industries, machine users require increased flexibility and continuous diagnostics of all actuators and sensors. In response, hydraulics manufacturers combine proven industrial hydraulics components with industrial controls. Whether this is an integrated solution with variable speed drives or industrial power units equipped with onboard PLCs, they are making hydraulics as intelligent and flexible as other automation technologies.

In addition, there is an increasing demand for horizontal and vertical connections of machinery and systems for Industry 4.0 applications. Emerging standards such as IEC 61131-9, IO-Link fulfills these requirements at low connection costs. By including IO-Link interfaces on hydraulics systems, such as proportional control valves and pressure switches, users have direct access to all data provided by the actuator and sensor for real-time diagnostics and predictive maintenance capabilities.

The Factory of the Future and Linear Motion

Customization and scalability are keys in the Factory of the Future. With digitalization at the forefront of the industry, linear motion companies with a robust database of linear motion tools provide the crucial support many machine builders and end users need.

Scalability, individuality and flexibility are just as much a hallmark of the engineering challenge for the Factory of the Future. Linear motion suppliers that offer a complete digital platform designed for the entire product lifecycle, with data that is available anytime and anywhere, will have a competitive advantage. From seeking information, selection, purchase, supply, commissioning, start-up, operation and service, linear motion tools for the Factory of the Future guide customers through individual processes from start to finish.

The Factory of the Future and Assembly Technology

When the personalization of the Factory of the Future and assembly technology meets, amazing things can happen. Open communication extends beyond open networking capabilities; new production floor tools that elevate communication between people, work teams and the systems they use are just as important.

Large-scale data visualization tools with touchscreen interfaces encourage open communication throughout the entire plant and provide an efficient way for workers to collaborate and view plant data in realtime. Centrally located in the plant, these tools are responsible for collecting, filtering and continually displaying production data and have been proven to help increase transparency, productivity and efficiency in production facilities.

The Future is Now

Shorter production life cycles, smaller batch sizes and individual product design—these are the requirements that today’s technologies are being designed to meet in order to make the Factory of the Future a reality today.

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