Machines can organize themselves, supply chains are constructed automatically, orders lead directly into the production process, drones, digital twins and mobile assistance systems make everyday life easier. This vision of the digital networking of the industry and value-added chains is nearly fulfilled. Wireless solutions play a key role for the highly dynamic and flexible Industry 4.0 production. They reduce complex cabling, enable flexible communication approaches and help develop new fields of application. However, in its new position paper " Industry 4.0 " VDE warns that the requirements for latency, reliability, range, fault tolerance, security and localization possibilities are so high that they cannot be met with currently available wireless technologies for the addressed variety of industrial application scenarios. This position paper was presented yesterday at VDE’s Industry 4.0 practice summit in Würzburg. The VDE experts analyze the status quo and the need for action and provide recommendations for the political, regulatory and industrial environment of Industry 4.0. One thing is certain: new wireless systems have to be developed and gradually integrated into existing infrastructures.
Standardized solutions ensure investments
In their paper, the VDE experts outline the requirements of future wireless technologies. The installation, handling and maintenance of the communication systems must be as simple as possible in order to ensure acceptance for the transition to Industry 4.0. However, innovation cycles of communication systems are usually much shorter than those of production plants. Therefore, internationally accepted standardized solutions must be developed to improve investment security for the industry. This requirement was also supported by the participants in the Industry 4.0 Practice Summit. They agreed that the digital transformation of industry would not be possible without open and globally accepted standards. "Especially for medium-sized companies, recognized standards are the condition for determined investment in digital issues," stated VDE President Dr.-Ing. Gunther Kegel in Würzburg. A further challenge grows with the increasing use of Industry 4.0: the growing need for resources can only be met with sufficient frequency bands or new concepts to utilize the available spectra.
Four-point program for industry 4.0
In order to realize the vision of Industrie 4.0, the VDE advocates a comprehensive package of measures with the four key-points of innovation, marketing, cooperation and standardization. Firstly, new approaches and procedures are required for new and critical applications in the manufacturing sector with previously unaddressed requirements. Therefore, technologies must be continuously advanced. Secondly, it is necessary to support the successful implementation of research results into products through systematic market introduction strategies. Thirdly, digitalization of industry requires cross-domain collaboration at all stages of the innovation cycle and at different hierarchical levels. Current programs such as the ongoing BMBF focus program "Reliable Wireless Communication in Industry" (ZDKI), for which VDE|DKE carries out the accompanying research, show the great importance of cooperation and collaboration for the further development of industrial technologies 4.0. This cooperation should be promoted through further collaborative projects and intensified dialogue. Fourthly, internationally harmonized standardization is crucial to counteract market fragmentation and to address markets globally.
The VDE is convinced: With the rapid implementation of Industrie 4.0, Germany can further expand its leading position in plant construction and strengthen its production location. However, the efforts in the field of innovative technologies, in which Germany has a good research position, must be strengthened considerably.