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Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution with IT and the Manufacturing Industry – SGS Platform (2) –

Industry 4.0, which is also known as the fourth industrial revolution, refers to the constructing of communication systems among manufacturing equipment and products through IoT (Internet of Things) and optimizing the entire production process[1]. The trend first began in Germany, one of the conventional leaders of the manufacturing industry. The German manufacturing industry has been threaten by the domestic factors such as lower birth rate within its producing population and the increasing elderly dependent population, as well as the international environment including low labor costs and technological leaps in China, plus US and Japan’s reinforcing policies of their manufacturing industries. In this competitive situation, Germany chose to take the “Smart Factory” route implemented through Industry 4.0. Smart Factories not only secure the competitiveness for productivity, labor cost, and safety expenses, but also help workers to focus more on creative fields of work by minimizing the intervention that has been made by workers in the production process. Today, let’s take a look at some of the key technologies related to Industry 4.0 and see how all these can be done and what to consider when implementing them.

Technologies for Industry 4.0

Smart Factories, CPS (Cyber Physical System), and IoT are most commonly mentioned when discussing Industry 4.0. How do these technologies work to implement Industry 4.0, then?

IoT is “the infrastructure for providing advanced services by connecting various objects in the physical and virtual world using IT[2]”, and CPS is “a system controlled both automatically and intelligently with objects communicating through a system which integrates the cyber and physical worlds.[3]” In other words, the purpose of IoT is “to connect objects”, while CPS aims “to integrate the cyber and physical worlds”. Together, they construct a virtual world where sensors, controllers, and other equipment (hereafter “devices”) are all connected through the network (IoT), and implement it to the physical world by controlling the things connected to this virtual world (CPS). Sometimes getting rid of the connection between the physical and virtual world creates some great effects, too. Performing simulations that discover possible problems before changing the production line or the system through which new employees can learn how to control and examine equipment are the examples.

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Image 1. Connecting the virtual and physical worlds through CPS

Smart Factory is where all the elements (Things) are connected through IoT and operated intelligently by building CPS. For example, a factory can reach its optimal productivity by controlling the facility by changing the types of products, material transportation methods, or production line according to circumstances such as malfunctions and breakdowns. Moreover, it can increase the energy efficiency through the connection with an EMS (Energy Management System), or predict and perform an automatic correction of broken equipment, and the quality of the product by connecting with the big data service.

The use of IoT service platforms in Industry 4.0

The key factor to implementing a Smart Factory in Industry 4.0 is in how to implement IoT services. The reason is, all devices are connected through the internet and communicated with each other intelligently by exchanging data within the Smart Factory.

Then what is the most effective way to connect these devices? There are various types of devices being used in factories. Even the same type of devices may have different operating methods and communication protocols according to their vendors and models. Protocols being used on site vary including Modbus RTU/TCP, BACnet, CAN, LonWorks, and OPC. Implementing communication protocols for all devices installed in the factory not only takes much longer, but also increases the human and material resources to build a smart factory. In this case, it’s much more effective to adopt an IoT service platform which already has various protocols implemented and is ready to provide an adaptor to simply connect all devices by changing the setting without requiring any software development.

On the other hand, it is not sufficient for an IoT service platform to just connect various devices effectively in order to implement the smart factory. Some of the key functions an IoT service platform needs to perform are as follows: collecting and saving data from connected devices, presenting the data effectively through HMI (Human Machine Interface), controlling devices according to the schedule or already set condition, and recognizing/responding to emergencies such as fires, gas leaks, and intrusions.

Doctor Wolfgang Wahlster in Germany already anticipated that Smart Factories were going to be implemented through CPS, and IoT is what is needed to implement CPS. When you can connect all devices, collect data, control the system, and even add intelligent functions through an IoT service platform, not only will it become possible to implement CPS with the IoT service platform, but be much more effective compared to adopting an extra platform for CPS.

There are things to consider when implementing IoS (Internet of Service) into a Smart Factory. Let’s suppose that services included in IoS are trying to give a command to the devices in the factory for more effective operations.

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Image 2. Service implementation in Industry 4.0

When services and internal devices communicate with each other directly like the upper part of Image 2, the vender providing a service has to implement the communication protocols for all devices in the factory. If service vender A delivers the ERP system and vender B delivers EMS to the factory, A and B have to implement all communication protocols for every device inside the factory. If the device doesn’t support the server or the multi-drop mode, this means it cannot communicate with multiple services, and therefore it may be impossible to construct the system at all.

Using a single vender for providing all services, on the other hand, also has its limits because vender dependency will stop the factory from using another vendor even if the other vendor provides better services.

The most effective way to deal with this issue is to connect all devices in the factory with an IoT service platform, and to let the platform provide ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) for the services and connectivity of IoS (See lower part of Image 2). In this case, the stability and performance of the IoT service platform will be even more important, as it’s going to handle CPS implementation as well.

SGP (Smart Green Platform), an IoT service platform

As mentioned earlier, adopting a flexible and stable IoT service platform is the key to effective Smart Factory implementation. IoT service platforms, therefore, are required to support a wide range of devices and reduce developmental costs, as well as making sure it performs well even when there are multiple devices connected and running at the same time.

LG CNS provides the Smart Green Platform (SGP), an IoT service platform which has been proven for its extendibility and stability.

SGP provides a protocol that can be connected to diverse devices including sensors, controllers, and equipment without any additional development, with great extendibility through which it can implement required protocols when a special device is needed and is not supported by SGP.

The solution’s wide application at over 50 sites including various buildings, factories, and cities not only proved its stability but also its performance through which over 300,000 control points can be handled.

It provides services such as EMS to help users implement desired services conveniently.

In the next posting, we will take a look at the structure, operational methods, and applications of SGP in more detail.

Written by Dongyoung Shin, senior researcher at LG CNS Smart Green Solution Lab

[1] Korean Economic Daily Dictionary[back to the article]

[2] IT terminology dictionary from Korea Telecommunication Technology Association
[back to the article]

[3] IT terminology dictionary from Korea Telecommunication Technology Association
[back to the article]

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