European companies from the mechanical engineering, automation and software sectors have launched the »Open Industry 4.0 Alliance« at the Hannover Messe. Based on existing standards, it aims to create an open ecosystem of interoperable hardware, software and services.
The founding members of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance are Beckhoff Automation, Endress+Hauser, Hilscher, ifm electronic, Kuka, Multivac and SAP. The alliance is basically open to any company - Balluff, Gebhardt, Pepperl+Fuchs, Schmidtsche Schack, Samson and Wika have already joined. The members want to create a standardized and open ecosystem for the operation of highly automated factories and plants with the integration of logistics and services. Their goal is to overcome proprietary isolated solutions and give a decisive boost to the digital transformation of the European industry. The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance aims to ensure that up to 80 percent of the machines in a Smart Factory speak the same language. The plan is to create an "Open Industry 4.0 Framework" based on existing standards such as IO-Link, OPC UA and RAMI.
Customers can choose from a modular, compatible and scalable set of solution and service components that build on the core competencies of the alliance's founders and members. The offering consists of the four building blocks Device Connectivity, Edge, Operator Cloud and Cloud Central plus the associated services. Device Connectivity establishes the connection to the machines and sensors. The Edge is the central node for all important and locally necessary functions in the factory. The Operator Cloud is the central node in the customer's enterprise; it has an open layer and supports all enterprise-centric functions and applications. Finally, Cloud Central enables the bidirectional exchange of data (especially master data, but also measurement data from a calibration) and information (such as technical documentation or repair instructions) across company boundaries.
The first proof-of-concepts were already completed in 2018, for example at Kuka with its versatile and flexible matrix production. Further proof-of-concepts from members and their customers are planned for summer 2019. The founding members are preparing a first exhibition for the second half of 2019.