What is sensor technology in the IoT

What is IoT / Industry 4.0?

Iot is an abbreviation for "Internet of Things". For a better understanding, imagine an environment in which things that have communication capabilities are connected to each other through the Internet.

These "things" can be industrial plants, cars, and household appliances. This page gives an insight into how IoT can be used in operational automation.

Connection of operating systems via IoT

The connection of your operating systems to a network has a number of advantages:

  • Maintain control by monitoring and collecting data from the plant.
  • Creating value by analyzing stored data.

The use of the Iot in operational facilities begins with the connection of your sensors and devices to a network and the collection of this data. The IoT can significantly improve productivity in the manufacturing industry by streamlining production operations in conjunction with an ERP system or by optimizing physical distribution by connecting it to other operating systems.
Corporate resource planning including finance and accounting

Industry 4.0 - the revolution in the manufacturing industry

The term is derived from a project by the German federal government. The "High-Tech Strategy 2025" is intended to promote innovative strength in order to strengthen Germany's economic position.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 describes the digitization of industrial production processes with the aim of making the processes more efficient. In essence, this should be done by networking all systems involved in the process, i.e. every sensor in an operating system is networked with one another and, in turn, all operating systems are connected via digital systems.
Industry 4.0 is also known as the fourth industrial revolution, the aim of which is to improve productivity in the entire manufacturing industry.

<Geschichte der industriellen Revolutionen >

The mechanization of production factories by hydroelectric and steam engines, which began at the end of the 18th century, is known as the first industrial revolution. The series production made possible by the use of electricity in the early 20th century is known as the second industrial revolution. Digitization with electronics and IT technologies in the late 20th century is known as the third industrial revolution.

Industry 4.0 is a national project of the federal government that positions itself as the "next generation industrial revolution". It has been promoted through collaboration between industry, government and academia since the mid-2000s and is defined in the expectation of being the fourth industrial revolution.

Technologies for the materialization of Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 requires two types of innovative technologies.

The first type are infrastructure technologies for communication, storage and processing of the enormous amounts of data that result from the connection of all areas. Fog computing is an example of such technologies.

So far, cloud computing has been used for data communication and processing. The materialization of Industry 4.0 requires the ability to process far more data. When cloud computing is used to process all of this data, network traffic can expand to an extraordinary extent and beyond what is manageable.

As a countermeasure, a distributed processing environment called Fog is implemented between the cloud and the devices in order to process this enormous volume of data in advance and avoid overconcentrations in the cloud. This approach of using distributed processing to prevent the load concentration of network traffic is the concept of fog computing.

Another means are AI technologies (Artificial Intelligence). Building the necessary infrastructure and collecting enormous amounts of data only adds value if we can use it.
This is where AI technologies come into play. AI is expected to perform a wide variety of tasks - from helping with plans and decisions to providing optimal predictions that are difficult for humans to make.

Benefits for production lines

The materialization of Industry 4.0 will lead to reduced production costs and significantly shorter lead times.

Because materialization promotes the introduction of digital data into production processes as well as their automation and virtual operation, which enables greater integration of the engineering chain and the supply chain.

For example, precise AI-based simulations of requirements or implementation planning allow development or design employees to shorten or skip various processes.

In addition, the timely synchronization of parts lists between the design office and production facility prevents production processes from being reversed or incorrect targets being generated. If the data can be synchronized between manufacturers and material suppliers, materials can be provided automatically and at the best time.

Smart factories as a goal of Industry 4.0

A smart factory is an operating system in which Industry 4.0 has been implemented. It is a production facility where all devices, robots and sensors in the plant are connected to a network in order to visualize different types of information and to clarify the causal relationships between this information.

The implementation of the smart factory concept leads to productivity increases and cost reductions. The information is collected in real time, which requires the systems and robots to be programmed accordingly. Work efficiency improves, and problems caused by human error can be prevented.

Sensors for Industry 4.0

Sensors are essential for smart factories to function. These have the property of enabling the acquisition and collection of various data and the retrieval or tracking of manufacturing conditions or batch information of products.

When AI technologies are combined with sensors, the AI ​​makes decisions autonomously and works with machines and robots to optimize production.
This process clearly stands out from simple automation and also differs greatly from the production lines that are based on digital data from the third industrial revolution.

KEYENCE solutions to problems with sensors

The prerequisite for Industry 4.0 is the data exchange between devices at different levels.
The information system in a plant can be represented as a structure of layers as follows:

  1. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system for managing resources such as finance and accounting
  2. MES (Manufacturing Execution System) for operating and controlling production lines
  3. Industrial control system for computer-aided system monitoring and process control
  4. Control / PLC (programmable logic controller)
  5. Industrial robots, sensors and actuators on site

When sensors or other end devices are connected to a network, problems often arise due to the use of many different standards. Since the introduction of IoT is in a transition phase, companies are building networks with different communication standards, which often makes the connection between the networks difficult. This also prevents the connection of sensors and other devices that are not compatible with the relevant standard.

In the current transitional state, in which every component of a plant is networked through Industry 4.0, KEYENCE supports customers on site by developing production lines that are compatible with various networks and can adapt to changes.

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