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Automation suppliers join forces to explain Industry 4.0

22 December, 2014

A group of leading UK-based automation companies – including B&R Automation, igus, Kiesling, Omron, Phoenix Contact, Schneider Electric and Weidmuller – are joining forces to explain Industry 4.0 and its implications at an event at Leicester’s National Space Centre on 28 January. The event has been organised by Eplan, which will also be launching a knowledge-based programme for optimising engineering efficiency, called Eplan Experience, which made its debut at the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany.

The Leicester event will explain how Industry 4.0 – “the fourth industrial revolution” – can help to develop intelligent manufacturing operations that are flexible, efficient, cost-effective and future-proof. The idea originated in Germany where it has been estimated that it could lead to a 30% increase in industrial activity.

The event will include demonstrations, workshops, seminars and exhibits. Topics to be covered will include robotics, cloud technology, machine safety and the future of UK engineering.

“Despite the perceived complexity of Industry 4.0, what companies sometimes fail to realise is that many of the key technologies are available today,” says Eplan director, Ken Christie. “As a result, many companies are only using a fraction of the potential of the technologies they already have in place, which means that they are needlessly sacrificing revenues and productivity enhancements. If UK companies are to compete successfully in the global marketplace, it is essential that they take full advantage of Industry 4.0 has to offer.”

One of the aims of the newly-launched Eplan Experience is to help companies to make better use of their existing resources. For example, Eplan has found that most of its customers use only about 20% of the capabilities of their software. “We are trying to get them to embrace the other 80%,” Sean-Patrick Mulherrin, US product manager for Eplan’s Electric P8, told Drives & Controls at the SPS show.

Christie: companies are needlessly sacrificing revenues

The modular Experience package consists on eight “fields of action” that companies can focus on to optimise their activities. The first two to be implemented are: codes and standards, which will help companies to comply with global standards for documentation and production, including IEC 81346; and design methods, which helps users to analyse, evaluate and implement design methods to reduce engineering efforts and project planning times.

Other fields of action will include IT infrastructures, platform set-ups, workflows, process integration and project management. The programme will draw on expertise within Eplan and feedback from its customers.




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