This article from Pilz explains how a modular automation platform - for controlling both safety and standard automation functions across separate machine modules - supports the adoption of Industrie 4.0.
The automation of the future needs distributed control intelligence that is easy to manage. For several years, a modular plant structure has been viewed as the key to greater flexibility in production. In most cases a whole plant consists of several self-sufficient machine modules. Should the production process change or productivity increase, one or more modules may be exchanged or identical modules added, which makes it possible to react flexibly to individual customer requirements.
As a result, modularisation and decentralisation are two of the most important success factors underlying the future of automation. The requirement is for distributed and guaranteed control intelligence, which makes it easier for users to handle the networking of multiple control systems. One such platform is available from Pilz, namely the PSS 4000 automation system.
Whereas in classic automation a standalone, centralised control system monitors the plant or machine and processes all the signals, the PSS 4000 automation system enables control functions to be distributed consistently. The aim of the PSS 4000 is to simplify the decentralisation of control functionalities and still maintain clarity of operation.
Control functionalities can 'migrate' into individual mechatronic modules. As a result, plant and machinery can be broken down into clear, independently operating modules. According to the same principle, even the control program and the visualisation can be divided into the smallest units. Thanks to the uniform design, machine elements and modules as well as data are easy to reuse.
With the PSS 4000 it is possible to program the distributed automation project for safety and automation using the PAS4000 software package. This enables simple, standardised handling across the whole project which, in turn, reduces sources of errors and shortens the engineering time.