Industry 4.0: A Work in Progress

At NPE2018, Thorsten Kümann, secretary general of Euromap, the umbrella organization of European plastics and rubber machinery producers, led a highly informative “walking seminar” of the state of development of communications standards for Industry 4.0.

Those standards will compose the basic architecture that will allow networking a wide variety of primary and auxiliary equipment into the “smart factories” of the future. His seminar took the form of a tour of machinery exhibitors such as KraussMaffei, Engel, Wittmann Battenfeld, and Battenfeld Cincinnati, each of which addressed a piece of the industry’s efforts to achieve consensus on standards for injection molding, extrusion, robots, other auxiliaries, and MES computers. These standards are based on the OPC UA (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture) machine-to-machine communication protocol.

After the show, Dr. Harald Weber, director of Euromap’s Technical Commission, summed up for me in an email where the various standards-writing efforts stand today. Here’s his overview (slightly edited) “on the status of the Euromap OPC UA interfaces”:

  • Euromap 77 (Interface between injection molding machines and MES): Final release just before NPE, May 4, 2018.
  • Euromap 83 (General type descriptions): Released together with EUROMAP 77 on May 4.
  • Euromap 82.1 (Interface for temperature-control devices): Published as so called Release Candidate (publicly available draft, open for comments), “beta-version” on Feb. 23, 2018. Final Release planned during 2018. Further projects for peripheral devices (hot runners, dosing systems, etc.) are planned
  • Euromap 79 (Interface between injection molding machines and robots): Under development. Release Candidate in 2018 possible. Because this interface needs real-time communications, the availability of TSN (time-sensitive networks) with the required hardware brakes, is a limiting factor.
  • Euromap 84 (Extruders): Under development. Release Candidate in 2018 planned.