Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Promoting Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is a hot topic throughout the industry. Mitsubishi Electric has been actively involved in the development of Industry 4.0 standard specifications in Germany.  Taku Shigihara, Team Leader Application Engineering and Development Team at Mitsubishi Electric, explains: "Mitsubishi Electric is a long-serving member of the industrial associations VDMA and ZVEI who have decided to define a standard for Industry 4.0. In order to ensure that the efforts made are not without meaning, the project needs to be developed accordingly as soon as possible. That is why Mitsubishi Electric now wants to play an even more active role."

The industry and research sectors in Japan and the USA have also recognised how important implementing the ideas behind Industry 4.0 is in order to be able to carry out production flexibly and cost-effectively and to meet global requirements. "As the largest automation supplier to the Asian market, Mitsubishi Electric has also taken the 'German approach' based on Industry 4.0 in Asia", he continues. "Relocating production abroad is not healthy for a country's economy in the long term. That is why the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership initiative was set up in the USA, where the level of software competence is so high, in order to address the subject of Industry 4.0. What that means for Germany and Europe is that ideas previously put down on paper now need to be put into practice and implemented in order to ensure that we don't get left behind. That’s something that Mitsubishi Electric wants to be actively involved in."

Originally regarded as the fourth industrial revolution, it has since become clear that Industry 4.0 is more of a continuous process of improvement. The intention is to unify interfaces and communication channels in order to realise transparent vertical and horizontal integration and bring optimum benefit for the customer as a result. Mitsubishi Electric has always carried out a continuous process of improvement. Throughout its history, the company has continuously integrated IT and production optimisation systems in its automation environment by implementing Kaizen, Poka-Yoke or the Toyota Production Management System.

Five years ago, Mitsubishi Electric launched the MES IT interface module on the market that enables the production environment to be vertically integrated at enterprise level. New control systems such as the integrated modular controllers from the iQ-R series, for example, are already equipped with some of the functions of the MES IT module ex works, enabling them to carry out such tasks as writing to databases via the CPU and managing data. In addition, the security aspect has always played a particularly significant role for Mitsubishi Electric. Essential security features have been significantly improved in order to ensure that the iQ-R series is optimally set up for Internet services such as the "Internet of Things" or the "Internet of Services".

"Through our commitment to the development of Industry 4.0 standards, we want to help our German and European customers to create a modern, efficient production environment so that they can remain future-proof. That is the only way that they will also be able to continue to expand their market leadership as exporters to Asia", says Taku Shigihara. "Compatibility with CC-Link is another decisive factor in this respect. The open automation network has its roots in Asia where it is the market leader. CC-Link in conjunction with the switching of production to Industry 4.0 can pave the way to the Asian market for European companies."

See Industry 4 on Wikipedia.

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