R&D Retrofit for Industry 4.0: Application for existing machines

Author / Editor: Rosemarie Stahl / Rosemarie Stahl

Germany - The collection and analysis of data is the corner stone of Industry 4.0. Many manufacturers buy new machines because the old ones lack this function and are not equipped with the neccesary technology. Fraunhofer IPT now makes it possible to make old machines fit for Industry 4.0 with its V-Box.

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With its many inputs and outputs, the V-Box can be implemented in existing manufacturing systems.
With its many inputs and outputs, the V-Box can be implemented in existing manufacturing systems.
(Sources: Fraunhofer IPT)

Data, that is gathered with sensors inside and in the surroundings of machines, has to be collected with the highest precision possible. Afterwards, it needs to be fed into the network in real time to enable an immediate and autonomous reaction of the system. The goal of Industry 4.0 is the so called smart factory. Here, physical processes are monitored to enable systems to communicate and co-operate with each other and with technicians.

To keep up with the fourth industrial revolution, many manufacturers think it is necessary to buy new machines that are equipped with the required interface. In many of these cases, the existing machines still work flawlessly and would not need to be replaced. It is a costly undertaking for the sake of being up-to-date.

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The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in Aachen, Germany, developed an alternative: The V-Box can upgrade production systems with network capability and therefore make them fit for Industry 4.0 and save manufacturers unnecessary expenses.

Sensors and network capability are essential for modern manufacturing

Machine tools with high precision and long-life assemblies can be used productively for years in industries such as automotive and aerospace.

However, the requirements for sensor integration, control technology and networking have changed drastically in the course of the development towards Industry 4.0. As a result, conventional machines reach their limits as soon as they need to be integrated into smart production networks. But they don't have to be outdated.

Fraunhofer IPT's V-Box offers an alternative to replacing existing production facilities: It is a retrofit solution that comes with the necessary networking capabilities for real-time data exchange. The compact system can synchronise position data as well as digital inputs and outputs with sensor data. It also displays the data visually as required, regardless of the control technology used, completely in accordance with current industry standards.

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