Hardware and Software in Smart Factories

Reading time ( words)

As smart factories become a part of the present rather than a thing of the future, we will all need to become familiar with related concepts and components. This article is dedicated to various automation protocols, including some new ones just coming on the market. The messages and recipe data needed for production scheduling to machine connections has evolved over the years. I will cover hardware, including programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and machine interfaces, as well as software and network protocols, such as MAPS™, SECS/GEM, OML, CFX, IPC-2541, and custom software.


Industry 4.0 Initiatives

Industry 4.0 originates from a project in the high-tech strategy of the German government that provides for the computerization of manufacturing. The first industrial revolution mobilized the mechanization of production using water and steam power. The second industrial revolution introduced mass production with the help of electrical power, followed by the digital revolution and the use of electronics and IT to further automate production. Also, the term “Industrie 4.0” was first used at the Hannover Fair. In October 2012, the working group on Industry 4.0 chaired by Siegfried Dais and Henning Kagermann presented a set of Industry 4.0 implementation recommendations to the German federal government. On April 8, 2013, the final report of the working group on Industry 4.0 was presented.


Today, there are multiple lights-out factory and Industry 4.0 initiatives. Much of this progress is the result of the automotive industry’s application of PLCs and robots to manufacturing. Figure 1 shows what the Germans foresaw for Industry 4.0 [1]. I was first introduced to PLCs by Allen-Bradley, as Hewlett-Packard (HP) had sold them its new CNC machines tool controller. PLCs became a major device in machine control (Figure 1).


PLCs are the most abundant smart controllers on the factory floor today. They come in all sizes, capabilities, and price ranges; some start at $60 USD. Many are hardened for harsh environments or outdoor use. Further, the flexibility of PLCs comes from the variety of units that can be plugged into them, such as conveyors, robots, PID process controllers, inspection, and test. Figure 2a shows an Ethernet group controller, and Figure 2b demonstrates a typical PLC and display monitor.


Software and Network Protocols

For factory automation software, HP developed CAD tools for PCB design and mechanical engineering that had data acquisition, SCADA, and test systems. The business computer division developed MRP and ERP software. In 1982, HP acquired Genesis Corporation, including IC-10 and six others, such as PC-10 and software products for factory control. HP had a complete software solution for factory automation connectivity that they developed for General Motors and the MAPSTM implementation. As this new software group was made into a division, they expanded their product line to include quality, test, and inspection systems; a CNC system; materials handling software; and an industrial process control system licensed from Mount Isa Mines. HP’s products were intended for typical factory automation networks typified by the four-level hierarchies seen in prior publications and by the ISA-95 standard. Application software can be much more complex, as shown with the seven-level ISO model.

To read the full article, which appeared in the March 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.


Suggested Items

Catching Up With John Johnson, New Director of Business Development at ASC

09/28/2022 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
It’s always good to catch up with old friends, especially when you can start working together. I recently spoke with my friend John Johnson, who has joined American Standard Circuits as the director of business development. At ASC, John will be using the Averatek A-SAP process that he was previously involved with. He shares some of his background and provides insight on the best ways to use this semi-additive PCB fabrication process that opens the capability window for forming trace and space.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

09/23/2022 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
It’s officially fall now, and in Atlanta the temperature has plummeted to the mid-80s. We’ve all bumped our air conditioners up to 74 degrees. That means it’s trade show season, and I’ve been busy looking for my suitcase. This week, we have an assortment of news about associations, education, and advocacy, as well as another installment of our Printed Electronics Roundtable. And if you’re looking for a job, you are in luck; our jobConnect007 section is chock-full of open positions at all levels in this industry.

IPC: Companies Are Intentional About Tracking Environmental and Social Risks

09/22/2022 | Suhani Chitalia and Kelly Scanlon, IPC
Leading companies in the electronics manufacturing industry are highly intentional about their environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities, with climate change and energy use among the most closely scrutinized issues, an IPC analysis shows. As part of IPC’s ESG for Electronics initiative, IPC is interested in developing resources for members on the most common ESG methods and priorities of leading companies across the electronics value chain. In support of this, IPC has preliminarily analyzed the ESG reports of approximately a dozen companies in selected portions of the industry.

Copyright © 2022 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.