Gliding effortlessly through the air, the Festo BionicOpter embodies the trends of tomorrow's automation: energy efficiency, high degrees of efficiency, function integration and lightweight design.
"Festo takes these perspectives from international markets and incorporates them into custom-made products for its customers around the world," explains Dr. Ansgar Kriwet, Member of the Board, Sales for Festo AG, at the SPS/IPC/Drives trade fair in November 2013.
These global developments require more from automation in terms of system competency, function density, software, energy efficiency and safety functions. "Even today, function integration is what makes our system solutions stand out, regardless of whether we are talking about hard disk test systems for the electronics industry, servopneumatic welding guns for the automotive industry or milking robots," says the member of the Board at Festo AG.
Automation platform CPX
In the era of Integrated Industry, individual workpieces will themselves determine what functions they need production installations to provide. An important milestone on the road towards Integrated Industry is the concept of integrated automation from Festo – based on the automation platform CPX. In Factory 4.0, machines, installations, workpieces and other components will exchange data and information in real time. This represents a shift from rigid, centralised factory control systems to decentralised intelligence.
Integrated Industry is characterised by the networking of the components within a production system, a continuous exchange of data, combining the evaluation of various sensor signals and a facility for detecting complex events and independent local decision-making and control. The concept of integrated automation from Festo, based on the automation platform CPX, already offers a means of achieving this.
Pneumatics and motion control
This electrical terminal for valve terminals already offers more than just a means of linking the field and master control levels. It already has diagnostic facilities and can provide condition monitoring functions. Its individual modules already make it possible to integrate the control of pneumatic cylinders via the modular valve terminals MPA and VTSA together with motion controllers for electric drives. And it already offers integrated safety functions.
This makes it possible to access diagnostic information, locate faults quickly and replace modules. Examples of the integration of functions include IT services such as web servers, a front end controller for decentralised local control, an end-position controller, a proportional valve or a pressure sensor for detecting internal valve terminal pressures or external signals.
The Internet of Things
CPX can already integrate all normal bus systems and Industrial Ethernet. This means that CPX is well-equipped for the future. Experts predict that the era of Industry 4.0 will mean the end of the present-day chaos of countless different bus systems. There will then be only one single, worldwide standardised protocol – an Internet protocol based on a real-time capable WLAN or Ethernet.
This trend towards simplicity is based on the same philosophy as the new adaptive and intelligent installation platforms. Up until now, if there was any change to the product, parts of the production installation also needed to be modified. The new highly adaptive installations, however, will adapt automatically to future product modifications. There will be no need for discussions about machine setting times in the factory of the future.
Adaptive and simple
Electric drive technology is also following this trend. It is already receiving significant impetus from the Festo positioning system "Optimised Motion Series". At the heart of this system is the electric cylinder EPCO. This is a prime example of how electric cylinders can be used simply and cost-effectively in factory automation. Software tools make web configuration and web diagnostics extremely simple. As a result, electric drives are just as easy to handle as pneumatic cylinders.