”What we mean by Industry 4.0 is distributing decisions down to more intelligent devices that interconnect those distributed devices into a coherent whole. Many factories have some manufacturing devices that interoperate with varying levels of orchestration.
As to whether Industry 4.0 has reached, 3.7, 3.8 or ”3.x” depends on what kinds of descisions are being made by those devices.”
In his keynote in Berlin, Grindstaff made an analogy between Google's autonomous driving vehicle and an intelligent autonomous robot making decisions in a workplace.
”These are the kinds of analogies that really help people to understand what Industry 4.0 is all about; moving decisions down so you don't have to say HOW something will work in a precise detailed fashion, but instead WHAT to do; like 'pick up things that look like this and connect these parts when they're in this configuration'. A lot of work has to go into creating the instructions to those more sophisticated devices.”
To work smoothly, the intelligence has to be below the surface - systems must be easy to operate and attuned to nuanced semantics. ”Yes, we're doing a lot of work on the semantics,” he said, adding ”the language of definition, and the simulation so that we can actually ask, 'Well, what's the cycle time of this movement?' We don't know exactly how each thing is moving but we know what is to be accomplished.”
Siemens has produced sophisticated integrated vision control systems that create a coherent environment that allows intelligent devices to work side by side with less intelligent devices.
The Smart Innovation Platform
Siemens’ Digital Manufacturing solution Tecnomatix is one of the components on the Smart Innovation Platform. Here used at Volvo Cars.
Siemens also demonstrated their new Smart Innovation Platform in Berlin . That platform contains the PLM suite Teamcenter, NX CAx, and the digital manufacturing solution Tecnomatix. None of these software components are new. The difference in this platform is that everything is connected and designed to work seamlessly as a whole.
”The idea is that we can start to develop an innovation early on in the conceptual phase and move the actual detailed artifacts – not just the files – but the objects that make that up throughout the entire life cycle without having to worry about re-entering, re-transmitting and syncronizing,” the Siemens PLM CEO says, adding that, ”We have a continous flow of refinement going from the the early ideas all the way to fine detailed things at the end. For me that kind of data reconciliation in a continuum is the core of Industry 4.0.”