With the dawning of the Industry 4.0 era and the reliable automation technology it brings, seamless transitions from continuous manufacturing processes to discrete ones should no longer be a problem. Through its solutions for more energy efficiency, including real-time diagnostics, condition monitoring, decentralised intelligence and autonomous decision-making mechanisms, Festo is providing its customers with the right automation tools to take advantage of this burgeoning trend.
Media valves from Festo control various fluids, be they gases, highly viscous fluids, pastes or granulates, in machines and systems during cooling, lubrication, cleaning, washing and sterilisation, as well as dosing and mixing. Synergy effects between fluid and motion control are achieved when Festo valve terminals and the automation platform CPX are used. Their comprehensive level of function integration means successful transporting, moving, sorting, counting, handling, gripping, vacuum and packaging operations, open-loop and closed-loop process control, and much more besides – with OPC UA for Industry 4.0 included.
Media valves, process valves and valve terminals
Examples of the media and process valves for liquid and gaseous media, or even granulates and pastes, include the angle seat valve VZXF, the ball valve actuator unit VZBA, the proportional media valve VZQA and the solenoid valve VZWM. The range of valve terminals is based on CPX/MPA and CPX/VTSA, which ensure a seamless transition between continuous and discrete processes and are in widespread use in factory and process automation. The extensive CPX product range comprises CPX-S as the standard version, CPX-M heavy-duty/metal, CPX-L optimised for control cabinets and CPX-P for process technology/NAMUR, plus solutions for everything from motion control to fast counters, all the way through to inputs for EX zone 0/1 as well as parameterisable digital and analogue signal detection and evaluation. Not only that, but the solution packages for fluid control provide yet more add-ons from a single source, including sensor technology, controllers, software, training and service.
Applications in which products are manufactured using a continuous process involve discrete manufacturing processes such as feed separating, filling and packaging. To accommodate this, Festo provides complete motion control solutions with six degrees of freedom up to the positioning axis, and virtually all kinematics for handling finished parts. From complex 3D handling systems to simple format changes, Festo can supply all the electric drive technology from a single source. Its portfolio ranges from electromechanical components through to motors, motor controllers, and decentralised controllers. One of the highlights is the electric cylinder EPCO with the controller CMMO-ST, which can be configured and implemented easily via the web cloud.
As partners to the process and factory automation industry, Festo's sales engineers use their product expertise and extensive application knowledge to put themselves in their customers' position and find the best ways of making systems and machines more efficient and productive – whether for car body welding, primary packaging, mixing, filling, testing, sorting, bulk material dispensing or cooling and lubricating media.
However, Industry 4.0 does not simply revolve around new automation solutions. It would be impossible for it to take place without people becoming equipped to deal with changes in the working environment. The new opportunities it is heralding require employees in industry as well as students at vocational colleges and universities to be trained specifically with this in mind.
An understanding of fully automated digital production technologies and knowledge of the layout and programming of digital system networks is crucial. Otherwise, tomorrow's employees will not be able to operate and optimise systems or develop flexible, intelligent components, and thus make a contribution to the necessary versatility and adaptability of the systems.
Festo Didactic offers a cyber-physical learning and research platform in the form of the CP Factory. This platform models the stations in a real production plant. Learning content includes, for example, systems programming, networking, energy efficiency and data management. The platform also enables flexible software solutions to be developed and tested so that they can be used in production.
Festo AG is a global player and an independent family-owned company with its headquarters in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany. The company supplies pneumatic and electrical automation technology to 300,000 customers of factory and process automation in over 200 industries. Our products and services are available in 176 countries. With about 18.700 employees in 61 companies worldwide, Festo achieved a turnover of around €2.64 billion in 2015. Each year around 8 % of this turnover is invested in research and development. In this learning company, 1.5 % of turnover is invested in basic and further training. Yet training services are not only provided for Festo's own staff – Festo Didactic SE also supplies basic and further training programmes in the field of automation technology for customers, students and trainees.