Next Steps to 'Industry 4.0' Showcased at Hannover Fair

In April more than 180,000 visitors from 100 countries descended on Hannover, Germany, to experience the latest of what's possible in industrial technology. Under the theme of "Integrated Industry: Next Steps," many of Europe's major factory automation suppliers fielded booth demonstrations designed to illustrate their visions of next-generation, advanced manufacturing capabilities.

Advanced manufacturing, or "Industrie 4.0," is a strategic initiative of the German government intended to foster the country's manufacturing competitiveness by leveraging the potential of cyber-physical systems and ubiquitous network connectivity to create more efficient and more productive factories, work processes and supply chains. "Industry 4.0 will be with us sooner than many people would have thought possible just one short year ago," said Jochen Köckler, member of the managing board for Deutsche Messe, the Hannover Fair's organizer. "Exhibitors have demonstrated a clear commitment to negotiating the 'next steps' on the road to the fourth industrial revolution rapidly and purposefully."

Throughout the automation halls, the integration of design and manufacturing platforms was apparent as RFID-badged products moved through modular production lines, carrying instructions for their own manufacture along for the ride. Tablet computers and smart phones interfaced directly with automation controllers—or reached up through secure cloud connections—easing engineering and integration tasks while enabling new information transparency.

Secure Communications a Given

Underpinning any effort toward building a more connected industrial supply chain is the need for cyber security. Siemens and ABB were among the companies announcing new efforts in this arena at Hannover.

Siemens announced that it has significantly deepened its relationship with McAfee, a division of Intel Security, to build industrial-specific security solutions leveraging such technologies as next-generation firewalls, security information and event management (SIEM), endpoint security and global threat intelligence. These offering are intended to provide greater visibility and control at the factory level while reducing the risk of intellectual property theft. "Industrial security is one of the building blocks for strong demand of connected manufacturing environments, and for the continued resurgence of manufacturing globally," said Siegfried Russwurm, CEO of Siemens Industry. "This partnership will be an important foundation for the future of manufacturing and Industrie 4.0."

"What we want to deliver is comprehensive situational awareness," added Michael Fey, worldwide chief technology officer at McAfee. By combining forces, Siemens, Intel and McAfee intend to drive the adoption of connected, managed and secured solutions at the plant level in order to help industrial customers to manage their security while bringing the uptime and reliability of the plant operations to a higher level as well, Fey explained. "We must build new solutions that secure operations but enable the user as well," Fey said.

ABB, meanwhile, unveiled at Hannover v6 of its 800xA process control system, a major new release that fundamentally "reloads" ABB's 10-year-old concept of Industrial-IT, according to Tobias Becker, head of ABB's global control products business unit. "v6 bundles everything we've learned in the past 10 years," Becker says.

Notably, the system is designed to be IT future-proof, with support for the latest Microsoft Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 platforms. Further, cyber security is built in, "engrained in the system's DNA," Becker says. Key features include white-listing and embedded cyber security monitoring and management services from Industrial Defender, now part of Lockheed Martin.

Ease of use and ease of migration are important deliverables as well, notes Mark Reid, ABB group vice president, process automation division. "It's the most important migration product we've ever released," Reid says.  Indeed, Hannover marks the first stop on a global World Control Tour highlighting the new system capabilities. Google "World Control Tour" to find out more.

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