DUESSELDORF, Germany—Anyone with experience in industrial automation will know that adoption needs careful mapping, often through IT landscapes scarred by battles between backers of different standards as seen, for example, with industrial versions of fieldbus, ethernet and wireless communications.
Many of these disputes have been, and in some cases continue to be, played out regionally with Asian, European and North American end-users mostly supporting the predominant suppliers of automation systems and equipment in their particular region.
When asked at the K Show whether the “plastics & rubber” Industry 4.0 would be immune to such scenarios, Thorsten Kuehmann, managing director of the VDMA, or the German plastics and rubber machinery association, said that this was not something he could predict. But, he added, the German industry association's goal was to see an open, global approach that would accommodate preferences for different technology platforms.
VDMA is, therefore, hoping for broad acceptance of Euromap 77, its chosen, new Industry 4.0-ready industry standard for the exchange of data between injection molding machines and central computers or manufacturing execution systems (MES) – a standard based on OPC UA from the OPC Foundation.
Kuehmann explained: “We have found a base for this standardization, OPC UA which we think could, more or less, be a base for the industry. OPC Foundation is a non-profit organization, don't charge for any license and is manufacturer-independent.”
The key point, he emphasized, is that plastics and rubber companies going down the Industry 4.0 route have a standard that is open for everyone.
“I truly do not believe that there are hidden benefits for the Europeans in this,” continued Kuehmann.” We have some quite big international injection molding companies already on board. So the European standard has a chance for a global (adoption).
“We are inviting others to use it: that is why we are here at the K show. We are trying to have a level playing field globally.”