The digitization of workshops is one of the challenges that industrial companies are tackling. The fourth industrial revolution, also called Industry 4.0, is at its peak. Virtually all companies have in their strategy, lines related to the digitization of their value chain and the integration of data in it. Advanced digitization, the industrial internet and smart technologies such as the internet of things (IoT) are shaping production systems that have little to do with the industry of 5 or 10 years ago. The factories of the future are going to be smart, geared towards efficiency, sustainability, flexibility, and competitiveness, in a connected environment where people will be a central element.

However, these developments in Advanced Manufacturing are being limited (in their application) to young machines, manufactured less than 10-15 years ago. Older machines, due to their connectivity and sensorization limitations, are being left out of these developments. In order to find a solution to this problem, AFM CLUSTER has participated in collaboration with the companies Fagor Automation and Savvy Data Systems, in the IIoT4ALL project. This project has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism through the General Secretariat of Industry of Small and Medium Enterprises through the aid program to support innovative business groups.

This project has aimed to deploy and validate a solution to access a management system of a plant that integrates devices from previous generations that are not compatible with the new communication standards. In other words, the integration of older machines with more modern ones in a single layer at plant level which brings together all the systems present and allows comprehensive data management.

This layer is of vital importance because many of the older systems, even those with connectivity, do not use the latest communication standards and therefore cannot operate in the same way as new systems in a digitized plant. In addition, the idea of using this layer is to avoid having to modify the machine’s original software, since the aim is to adapt the old and the new communication systems.

Within the activity carried out by companies to digitize their plants, there is a need to include existing machines, that are in full production capacity, in their new production control and planning systems. The companies have to provide this machines with capacities that new technologies allow in terms of programming, simulation and automatic generation of programs that not only increase productivity but also improve the quality of all processes at the plant level. This has already been addressed at the hardware/software level in the machine in previous projects (such as the RETRO-CONNECT project), but a plant level layer was missing that would bring together all the present systems and that would allow comprehensive data management, taking into account both generation devices, the old generation as well as the latest one.

This is an example of a project carried out for the digitization of the workshops. The new scenario will mean an increasing need for adequately trained OT technicians with digital competence.

Projects like DTAM will help to develop digital competencies for the current and future workers. DTAM Training Course will consist of approximately 25 training units on digital and transversal skills relevant for IT and OT technicians in AM environments that contribute to the major areas of Industry 4.0 and the foreseen sections of Big Data, Machine Learning, Sensors, and Cybersecurity.

We will have more updates for you in the coming months.

Featured image credit: Cartoon vector created by vectorjuice – www.freepik.com

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