Balluff engages in the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance for standardization of the smart factory
Up to 80 percent of machines in highly automated industry will need to speak the same language: this is the goal of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, which was introduced on April 2 at the Hanover Exhibition. Respected companies from the areas of machine building, industrial automation and software have come together to create a standardized and open ecosystem for the operation of highly automated equipment and factories. One of the first members is Balluff. Florian Hermle, Managing Director of the sensor and automation specialist, is convinced that island solutions will not have a long-term future in a digital and highly networked future: "Companies want a manufacturer-neutral system for the smart factory. This is what Balluff is all about – we want to offer our customers solutions which are open and as compatible as possible." The members of the alliance have committed to standardizing factors such as connectivity, data management, IT security and their cooperative work. Together with the other members of the alliance, Balluff will develop the corresponding framework.
Framework for interoperability
This framework, the so-called Open Industry 4.0 Framework, is based on existing standards like I/O Link, OPC UA and RAMI. Its four elements – Device Connectivity, Edge, Operator Cloud and Cloud Central – regulate all the relevant connections and nodes in smart factories. The offering covers the entire range from the object on the factory floor to product shipping to service. Data consisting of master and measurement data, along with technical documentation, will in the future be easy to exchange across company borders. "This means that Balluff solutions can operate with systems from other alliance members with no limitation. Customers benefit greatly from this open approach. They can assemble just the right automation modules from a kit without any additional effort and know that these assemblies are perfect for their particular production system or logistics center," explains Hermle. The alliance's plan is quickly taking shape: the founding members are preparing a first performance demonstration with solution elements for the second half of 2019. Open Industry 4.0 is in fact open to any company. Over the next few years it intends to expand to other economic regions such as America, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific-Japan.
Founded in 1921 in Neuhausen a.d.F., Balluff employs 4000 people worldwide and represents innovative technology, quality and cross-industry experience in industrial automation. As a leading sensor and automation specialist, the family-owned company in its fourth generation offers a comprehensive range of high-quality sensor, identification, networking and software solutions. In 2017, Balluff Group reported revenues of around 459 million euros. In addition to the main headquarters in Neuhausen a. d. F., Balluff has sales, production and development locations around the world and can boast 37 wholly owned subsidiaries and other representatives in 68 countries. This guarantees customers rapid worldwide availability of products and high consulting and service quality on site.