Industry 4.0

Industy 4.0
Foto: iStock | chinaface

The term Industry 4.0 stands for the fourth industrial revolution, a new level of organization and control of the whole value chain and over the life cycle of the products.

These cycles are oriented on the demand of the individual customer and ranges from idea, order, construction and development, the delivery of the product to the end customer, to recycling, and including related services.

The basis is the availability of all relevant information in real time through connectivity of all instances, which participate in the value chain, as well as the ability to deduct the optimal value chain processes from these data.

Through the interaction of humans, objects, and systems a dynamic, real time optimized and self-organizing value chain will evolve. This value chain will cross companies borders and can be optimized for different business aims like costs, availability or resource consumption.

Standardization as a driving force for innovation

Standards create a secure basis for technical procurement, ensure interoperability in applications,

protect the environment, plant and equipment and consumers by means of uniform safety

rules, provide a future-proof foundation for product development and assist in communication

between all those involved by means of standardized terms and definitions.

Standardization is of central importance for the success of the future project Industrie 4.0.

Solid, consensus-based, officially recognized international standardization is needed. IEC takes the lead and provides coordination via IEC Strategic Group 8, I 4.0, Smart Manufacturing.

Reference Architecture Model for Industry 4.0 (RAMI 4.0)

The lesson we learned from former lessons is that having a model helps to focus on the important points. A reference model is a scheme that coherently describes an aspect playing an important role in the systems of an application area. Reference models take into account organizational and technological circumstances, and observe the system to be modeled from a particular point of view. They are therefore not without alternatives, but describe the situation, from the view of the professional experts, as accurately as needed. Different groups of experts may of course arrive at different reference models. This is undesirable, but in many cases unavoidable. Reference models are metamodels: They are the basis of common understanding in the expert groups, describing the models structure in a use case, and are the point of departure for tools to be developed on their basis.

The availability of standardized reference models in all areas is a decisive precondition for Industry 4.0. The cross-domain view gives additional importance to an explicit, unambiguous and clear presentation of the situations in reference models. The existing domain-specific models are to be added to, extended and harmonized to achieve this aim.

A further challenge consists in the fact that the reference models are often not explicit and delimited, but are rather described in a variety of technical standards. This leads to multiple, unclear, inconsistent and unreferenceable description, and to difficulties in the integration of components in an overall system.

  • The primary objective of a reference model is the clear and unequivocal description of a model of a relevant situation. A reference model which satisfies these criteria is a standardizable reference model.
  • A second objective is to have only one reference model for a particular situation wherever possible, and to manage that model globally as the only standard. This, however, cannot always be done. Reference models are never the only true models.

Depending on the point of view, the user’s own history, or for reasons of technical or corporate policy, several competing reference models may be created for the same situation and then also lead to different solutions. In this unlikely event, it can be better to permit several standards or specifications existing in parallel in the consensus-based framework rather than promoting the creation of consortium specifications. Then, of course, the aim should be to establish a reference model that spans various domains.

Future plans and strategic goals

  • Developing a description of the reference models in dedicated standards. As with core models, reference models are also used in a wide variety of model solutions.
  • Defining reference models separately as independent standards for the purposes of simplification and avoidance of unintentional deviations, and for better understanding.
  • Implementing a nearly finished specification (DIN SPEC 91345 - publication planned Q2 2016) as Public Available Specification - PAS within IEC, starting with the new work item procedure in the relevant Technical Committee of the IEC.

Widespread use

To succeed in the mentioned goals a widespread use of reference models is desired. Technical systems and processes in Industry 4.0 should be described on the basis of the reference model to be finalized soon.

Promoting Industry 4.0 on the international platform

Strategic Group IEC/SG 8 „Industry 4.0 - Smart Manufacturing” will meet during the #IECGM16 under the guidance of the Convener Alec McMillan and Ludwig Winkel and the attendance of the Committee members.

Reference Architecture Model