The manufacturing factory of the future
German manufacturing is famed for its efficiency and its automotive sector is among the most successful in Europe. On a global scale Germany’s automotive manufacturing industry is the third largest in the world.
But with an aging population, the country is struggling to meet the demand for a skilled workforce that can continue to propel manufacturing forward.
With this in mind, scientists at Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology in Saxony have developed a 17,000 square foot innovation hub in the city of Chemnitz. The “Factory of the Future” provides a space for researchers to experiment with new technologies and machinery in a bid to improve production processes. The factory is particularly committed to rethinking the role of humans in manufacturing lines.
“The processes we are developing today are so much more complex,” says Professor Dirk Landgrebe, director of the institute. “The machines and resources are so much more sophisticated that we will need qualified people to handle these processes in the future.”
Virtual training on-site
As part of the new factory a state-of-the-art virtual environment has been installed where potential employees can test out the new technologies and intelligent systems, which are set to form the building blocks of German industry.
Employees enter a 3D room, which can take on the appearance of a factory or even a piece of equipment. By using a controller, the advanced technology detects head motion, adapts to movement and changes the user's view accordingly.
Fraunhofer Institute is one of 70 institutions committed to researching and developing new ways to enhance Germany's industrial landscape. The German government is also involved in funding work that will eventually form the infrastructure of German production.
“Our task at Fraunhofer is to bring as much of our research as possible straight into industrial production,” says Matthia Putz, director at Fraunhofer Institute.
“We don't focus on reports, we develop new products and new technologies together with industrial partners,” he continues.
Germany's manufacturing industry has long held the standard for innovation, and even though it has faced challenges, it looks like “The Factory of the Future” may keep the country from losing its edge.
To find out more, watch this video.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.