Austria's Engel Group has long played a leadership role in efforts to get the industry more fully "connected." Digital technologies enable innovative business models and present numerous opportunities, the firm notes, but also demand new ways of thinking.
Industry 4.0 essentially began a decade ago, recounts Gerhard Dimmler, the firm's vice president of research and development, and Engel and others engaged in discussions at K2013 about the standardization of communication protocols. At K2016, he said, the industry established standardized communication interfaces for all machinery, but efforts are still continuing to streamline all the related aspects. Engel has opted to focus on three areas – smart machines, smart service and smart production.
Using its Inject 4.0 platform, the company states online: "We ensure seamless exchanges and the availability of relevant data across the entire value chain through horizontal data integration. You benefit from plug-and-produce production systems that can easily be integrated into other Engel systems and peripheral devices, guaranteeing maximum flexibility."
"At the same time," it continues, "vertical integration allows continuous communication from the individual sensor, any peripherals and the machine with the manufacturing execution system (MES) and even the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system."