DUESSELDORF, Germany—Over the years, K Show trade fairs have featured some strong technology themes, metallocene resins, nanomaterials, electric molding machines and biopolymers among them, but few if any match the prominence gained by the buzzword for this year's event.
Almost every pre-show announcement from machinery exhibitors at K2016 features some reference to Industry 4.0—the term first coined in Germany for the “fourth industrial revolution”—the application of digital technologies to integrate automated manufacturing and supply-chain processes.
Indeed, armed with this relatively new networking concept and “smart factory” technologies, major machinery suppliers are now said to be reinventing themselves as ‘suppliers of flexible production systems for IT-networked production.
Setting the scene, German plastics and rubber machinery association the VDMA intends to “bring Industry 4.0 to life” at K 2016: presenting real-life examples to show how the concept is already improving production efficiency in plastics and rubber machinery manufacturing.
As a preview, the association has posted practical examples of Industry 4.0 in action at 24 of its member companies on a website specially developed for the show. The site also provides a technology overview on Industry 4.0 in plastics and rubber machinery manufacturing.
Among the participants in the VDMA initiative is Coperion, which supplies compounding systems, dosing systems and bulk materials plants.
Coperion's background is in conventional machinery manufacturing backed by know-how in production engineering and process engineering, notes Peter von Hoffmann, head of business unit engineering plastics and special applications.
“But, we only gain the best advantage by networking the individual components in plant manufacturing,” von Hoffmann said. “We use intelligent control technology to analyze the individual process data so that the manufacturing process can be continually optimized. In this way, we create added value for our customers.”