New technologies generate unprecedented market opportunities. This applies even more to digitalisation in the machine and plant construction sector. The aim of Festo is to support customers and partners and take them into the digital age as part of this transformation process. With the takeover of the industrial intelligence company Resolto, Festo is ready to enter the next stage in the automation technology: the use of artificial intelligence.
In 2000 the owners of the classic Nokia 3310 were so proud of their sturdy mobile phone. Nokia's turnover figures were in the billions thanks to the high number of units sold, yet basically only with the hardware itself. Almost 20 years later, the hardware of the iPhone X is not only a lot more expensive, but, thanks to digitalisation, it is also a boom for new business models and new markets. More than 100,000 apps are available in the Apple Store, creating a market of €9.5 billion for music and software. And the trend is on the up.
Automation technology in the age of digitalisation is also seeing the development of classic automation products such as drives, control systems, valves or service units for compressed air into smart solutions. They integrate more and more functions, enable communication among themselves as well as with higher levels of the automation pyramid thanks to sensor technology, intelligence and software-based functions.
Example: A classic service unit component of series D prepares compressed air. Its filters, oil and water separators provide a high quality of compressed air. This is what service unit components of series MS and their energy efficiency module MSE6-E2M do, yet they are capable of doing much more. When fitted with sensors, the module gathers data that can be evaluated to counteract any deviations. It can detect and report leakages as well operate condition monitoring based on process-related data. A 30% energy saving is possible due to the reduced consumption of compressed air.
Much more than fit and forget
"Festo products have followed the motto 'fit and forget' for many decades. Although this guiding principle still applies today, nowadays the products of the company are installed and generate additional added value – thanks to digitalisation," explains Dr Frank Melzer, Member of the Board, Product and Technology Management at Festo AG.
Festo has now taken another step forward. With the takeover of Resolto Informatik GmbH in the spring of 2018, it will also be able to offer solutions with artificial intelligence for real-time applications. Data is interpreted already in the field in close proximity to the machines. This makes it possible to save energy, shorten cycle times, and it reduces machine failures and production errors.
The SCRAITEC software solution from Resolto, for example, knows the healthy condition of a system and detects every anomaly with the real-time analysis of the system's sensor data. SCRAITEC supplies early and precise prognoses, makes diagnoses and supplies recommendations for action. "The topic of analytics and artificial intelligence will have an enormous effect on our product portfolio, since AI algorithms can be integrated both in the cloud and directly in the components from Festo, says Melzer about the advantages of the acquisition.
Festo AG is a global player and an independent family-owned company with 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 40 industries. The products and services are available in 176 countries. With about 20,100 employees in over 250 branch offices in 61 countries worldwide, Festo achieved a turnover of around €3.1 billion in 2017. 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.