Today’s manufacturing industry is faced with increasingly complex challenges. Owing to continuous change, enterprises constantly need to adapt their production systems to product and process innovations. Production and shopfloor-related IT systems need to be set up at an accelerated pace to keep up with the dynamics of the market. For these and many more reasons, monitoring and control systems are key to safe and transparent manufacturing processes. This is why, for IOSB, today’s monitoring and control systems are:
- Scalable applications spanning the visualization
- Operation and monitoring of automated manufacturing systems and conveyor technology
- Systems for the smart fine-tuning of individual sections of production on the basis of multi-criteria optimization
- Production control (control technology) providing energy monitoring and energy management
- Applications to monitor objects that use multiple localization technologies
- Web-based systems for the user-oriented evaluation of the data collected by the individual installations
From this perspective, we consider today's monitoring and control technology to be an essential part of modern manufacturing execution systems for Industrie 4.0. In fact, today’s users need more than mere system monitoring. For a comprehensive overview or overall visibility of the production process, it is necessary to include all the applications required to complete a job – which, in practice, is usually more than just one shopfloor-related IT system.
Against this background, IOSB is using their monitoring and control systems as integration platforms in control rooms by combining the features of heterogeneous applications to form a general view of the production process. In addition, state-of-the-art monitoring and control systems are characterized by the following features:
- They integrate three-dimensional visualization tools wherever a merely two-dimensional representation of process control goes beyond the users' capacities or fails to fulfill the requirements.
- They take advantage of features to monitor and operate equipment using common web browsers. This also includes the distribution of web-enabled process control images to mobile terminals such as smart phones, tablet computers, etc.
- They support automated 'plug and work' engineering, rendering customization less costly and error-prone and speeding up system set-up.
- They extract customization data from digital factory systems on the basis of standard descriptions using AutomationML, for instance.
- They support what is known as 'self-organizing production', which is based on autonomous agents that negotiate with each other which workpiece will be transported to by which conveyor belt to which manufacturing system, for example.
- They incorporate new technologies, ranging from agent technology including ontologies and web 2.0 to the engineering of service-oriented architectures for monitoring and control systems.
- They allow for the specific semantic retrieval of information on topics relating to engineering or factory operation.
- They include assistant components for concurrent simulation, forecasting and decision support, for instance.