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CPS Stopgate: intelligent components for the networked factory of the future

Intelligent components

Basis for the networked factory of the future

Intelligent components are the basis for future production systems. Intelligent components are self-contained, autonomously functioning mechatronic assemblies. They optimize the production process thanks to their enhanced functionality – from commissioning right on up to normal operation.

Future production systems are based on autonomously functioning mechatronic modules. Due to the combination of sensors and actuators, as well as data processing and communication, these assemblies are also referred to as intelligent components. They network, organize and configure themselves in order to accept orders from the master control level. Festo’s CPS Stopgate is an example of an intelligent component.

The technological challenge for the development of intelligent components is the miniaturization of high performance, embedded systems. In order to make networked overall systems of this type possible, we intensively further develop technologies such as precision engineering and microsystem technology, for example.

As an innovation leader, we’ve been providing impetus for factory automation and offering a wide product portfolio for drive technology for many years. That’s why we make use of intelligent components to facilitate and speed up the engineering process where systems configuration, commissioning and operation are involved.

Components for the IoT

In the vision of the industrial Internet of Things, all of the relevant data for a production process are available in real-time. Intelligent components are a prerequisite. They play the central role for consistent and uniform exchange of information in all IoT processes.

An IoT component is characterized by the following properties:

  • Intuitive: With processes changing at an increasing rate, people must interact more frequently with technology. This means that the technology has to understand people, and vice versa – intuitively.
  • Intelligent: Functional integration and increasing intelligence can already be found in automation, for example in the valve terminal with integrated programmable logical controller or the vacuum gripper which includes a diagnostics function.
  • Integrative: Plug and produce capability makes it possible for modules to log on to the host computer and communicate their capabilities. Consequently, they’re planned into the production process and new capacities are issued for the production system.
  • Internet-compatible: Thanks to the WLAN capabilities of the components, local autonomous systems within the production process can actively communicate with each other as a result of standardization independent of the system and the manufacturer.

Plug & produce capability

An integrated controller and adaptable interfaces which reduce the effort required for assembly, configuration and system integration to a minimum provide intelligent components with plug & produce capability. Preconfigured controllers make commissioning easier, so that no detailed knowledge of actuators or control systems is necessary.

The plug & produce principle is similar to that of a USB interface on a computer, via which connected devices are able to log on to the computer directly and communicate with it. In the factory of the future, individual components are also expected to announce their presence within the production system independently in the same way.

CPS Stopgate

The integrated stopper module, the CPS Stopgate, is the prototype of an intelligent component. It integrates the necessary actuators, as well as the sensors and controls, required to stop workpiece carriers on a conveyor belt in a targeted fashion into a single component. A standardized interface is used to make the function of the stopper module available to the whole production system – for example “block” or “let pass”. Wiring is already integrated into the component so that only one external plug connection is required for compressed air, power and signal, thus reducing wiring effort.

The Stopgate is used, for example, in the CP Learning Factory designed by Festo Didactic, which is targeted at research and future-oriented learning concerning integrated industry.