What does Engineering Software really have to do with Industry 4.0?


Reinhard Knapp spricht über Industrie 4.0© AUCOTEC AG

Reinhard Knapp, Head of Global Strategies at Aucotec AG, talks about Industry 4.0

A lot, as Industry 4.0 means digitization. For plant engineering, this means providing a virtual image of the plant, its "digital twin". For this, several preconditions must be met:

First, such a plant model needs structure. This is where IEC 81346 comes in with its three hierarchical structures for function, product and location aspect intelligently linked at object level.

In addition, a plant model must be detailed enough to be able to track the signal path of a measurement later in maintenance, for example. This requires the inclusion of not only the sensor but also information such as connections, cables, terminals or the channel of the control system card.

Over and above that, central availability is essential. All this information must be in one model instead of several - and thus potentially inconsistent - submodels.

Many engineering tools are quite far removed from these requirements. Mostly they are historically evolved "engineering suites", i.e. collections of special tools. Their interaction is controlled by interfaces, which do not, however, result in a central model. Because a suite inherently contains many data sources, it can never be the Single Source of Truth required for Industry 4.0.

Aucotec's Engineering Base on the other hand, with its multi-layered server architecture, already offers precisely this cross-disciplinary, central data source for imaging a complete digital plant twin.