Microelectronic sensor systems in thin foils offer a new approach when it comes to networking intelligent production plants for Industry 4.0. Local monitoring and controls in a production environment are made possible by so-called smart sensor system labels.
In the ParsiFAl 4.0 research project, Festo, together with cooperating partners from industry and research, is developing new sensor technology and electronics in thin foils. Pneumatic drives, but also packaging, can use intelligent sensor labels to collect, evaluate and exchange information about the respective process. This enables production and logistics procedures to be optimised and made more flexible.
Machines that can communicate with each other independently: that is the vision of the factory of the future. For this purpose, production facilities are being digitally networked. This is achieved if the components involved in the production process, such as pneumatic drives and workpieces, can interact with each other via intelligent sensor technology and secure communication.
Aims of the project
In the ParsiFAl 4.0 research project, several cooperating partners are working on developing thin electronic systems, so-called smart sensor system (S3) labels, with the support of the project sponsor VDI/VDE-IT. The S3 labels are based on microcontrollers, sensors, thin displays and integrated communication interfaces, which are all embedded in foils.
The data recorded can be used to evaluate the condition of a component, in order, for example, to proactively service plants. This allows the maintenance costs for production plants to be reduced considerably. In the logistics and packaging field, this enables the transport route of sensitive goods to be reliably tracked.
In the actual application of the research project, the aim is to attach an S3 label like an adhesive strip to a Festo pneumatic drive. The sensor and user data is then sent wirelessly and securely to a corresponding control system. In this way, drive data such as position, dynamics and environmental parameters can be monitored simultaneously by several S3 labels in a unit. The controls can be optimised subsequently by self-learning systems. An energy harvesting system, which generates energy from the movement of the piston, is expected to supply the foil system with power in conjunction with a thin film battery.
Bosch intends to use the foil system as an ‘intelligent label’ on the packaging of sensitive transported goods. The integrated MEMS sensor technology, based on microelectromechanical systems, can be used to monitor harmful influences on sensitive goods, such as knocks or temperature fluctuations. Even application information is expected to be stored on the autonomously working label, which can be read wirelessly via corresponding interfaces in the unit, but also via mobile terminals.
Other project partners
The individual technologies are being researched by the partners in the consortium:
- Bosch brings its many years of experience in the field of MEMS sensor technology to the project and is developing a demonstrator for its Bosch Packaging Technology division.
- The development and implementation of the wafer thinning technique for the integrated circuit technology components (ICs, sensors, MEMS) is being taken on by the Institut für Mikroelektronik Stuttgart (IMS CHIPS).
- Hahn-Schickard-Gesellschaft für angewandte Forschung e.V., an applied research organisation, has a wide range of experience in the fields of system design and energy harvesting. Together with Infineon Technologies and the partner STACKFORCE, secure communication solutions are being developed for the demonstrators.
- Infineon Technologies is conceiving the implementation possibilities for wireless elements and their configurations.
- Micronas is supplying the chips for the magnetic position measurement.
- With its flex and embedding technology, Würth Elektronik is making a key contribution to the final implementation of the system.
- The preparation of qualification methods and test procedures for error analysis as well as the ultimate qualification of the systems regarding their reliability is being done at RoodMicrotec.
The ParsiFAl 4.0 project is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the funding code 16ES0432K.