Modular automation for flexible production

Fluctuating demand, more customized products, smaller batches – the markets are changing and with them the demands on production in the process industry. Decentralized automation and modular systems enable manufacturers to respond quickly and flexibly. Festo is driving development and standardization in modular automation. Our solutions give you a head start for the future ,helping you easily adjust your capacities and accelerate the engineering of new systems.

Modular is simply more efficient

Conventional large-scale process systems have a central control system and are precisely designed to meet the defined requirements. This works well as long as the required production quantity and the product remain the same. If demand fluctuates or if smaller, more customized batches are required, adjustments can get extremely costly, if they are even feasible at all, because the system operator always has to change the entire system. This requires personnel who know the specifics of the system. Operating with less throughput can also reduce the efficiency of the system. After all, a large part of the system always has to be shut down for maintenance.

Modular production with decentralized automation from Festo opens up new avenues towards greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Each networked module of the system is a separate functional unit that operates autonomously and contains the complete control system. Therefore, you can connect and disconnect the modules flexibly depending on your production needs. The standardized software interfaces of the Module Type Package (MTP) help simplify integration. If a module is faulty, it is simply replaced.

Four steps to modular automation

Step 1: Mechanical and functional modularization

First, the process engineering is broken down into sub-processes, and a module is defined for each. This contains all mechanical and automation technology components for autonomous operation.

Step 2: Modularizing the automation

Each module receives its own decentralized controller, remote IO components and pneumatic controls and all of the functionality is programmed. As well as the entire process sensor and actuator technology, of course.

Step 3: Coordinating the entire system

After the modules have been interconnected to form a process system, each module provides its specific functionality via an interface standardized according to MTP. This allows the operating mode, status, process measured values, etc., to be read out and written. A lean Process Orchestration Layer (POL) coordinates the module functionalities in the overall system. The MTP facilitates smooth integration of the modules.

Step 4: Flexibly adapting modular systems

Using the modules described, you can build systems in any desired shape precisely according to your preferences and current requirements – simply by flexibly adding modules. Numbering-up instead of scaling-up.

Plug & produce with the standard MTP

The Module Type Package (MTP) serves as a standardized software interface between the module's controller and the process control system of a modular production. With MTP, you can start up new production plants faster and modify your production processes easily and at short notice. Individual sub-processes can also be flexibly exchanged. In other words: plug & produce in place of time-consuming change management engineering.

In the Module Type Package, assets relevant to control technology are defined in terms of their mode of operation and interfaces. These can be the interfaces of already existing or functional components, module service descriptions or operator display symbols.

Every MTP-compliant controller has an MTP description file that can be read in the higher-level process control system or Process Orchestration Layer (POL). This is comparable to printer drivers in the consumer sector, which nowadays ensure trouble-free communication between a wide variety of printers and diverse end devices such as PCs, tablets or smartphones.

For MTP-compliant programming of the decentralized controller via standardized USB connection and automatic export of the MTP description file, Festo offers the PA Toolkit .

Festo shapes the standard of the future

MTP is on its way to becoming the internationally recognized standard for adaptable production with modular systems. Festo is playing a crucial role in shaping this process by participating in a variety of professional committees. This gives you the security of always relying on the latest in decentralized, modular automation – and on future-proof solutions that are open to further developments.

  • Through the ZVEI, we are active in the Modular Production working group.
  • This multi-member team is working on VDI/VDE/Namur Guideline 2658 (MTP standard) and various aspects of MTP as part of GMA 5.16.
  • As part of the BaSys research projectwe are creating the specifications for an administration shell sub-model for MTP.
  • Building on the results from the professional committees, work is being done on internationalization at the IEC level – IEC Standard 63280.