CC-Link IE leads the way to Industry 4.0

24th November 2014
Siobhan O'Gorman

One might argue that a technology becomes mainstream when politicians begin debating it. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel made a very interesting statement about Industry 4.0 during the national IT Summit that took place in Germany at the end of October. 

By John Browett, General Manager of CLPA-Europe

According to the German chancellor, Industry 4.0 is an opportunity for Germany, and the whole of Europe, to take the lead in connecting digital technologies, instead of constantly trailing behind the United States and China.

Here at the CLPA, we’ve always thought a little bit of healthy competition does wonders for progress. Over the last couple of years, the concept of Industry 4.0 has inspired many European companies to break the mould when it comes to machine connectivity and intelligent automation. And it doesn’t look like the idea will be running out of steam anytime soon; if anything, quite the opposite.

Although many pieces of the Industry 4.0 puzzle are still missing, the encouraging news is that a lot of the necessary technology for implementing the model already exists in much of the manufacturing sector.

Industry 4.0 is going to be one of the major themes of the CLPA’s stand at the SPS/IPC/Drives fair in Nuremberg this year. Visitors can find out more about our Industry 4.0 solutions by visiting us in Hall 2, Stand 2-540 from 25th to 27th November 2014.

CC-Link IE for Industry 4.0
As we’ve seen, many of the technologies with Industry 4.0 potential have been around for years. For example, in a smart factory, where machines are able to communicate with other machines, a reliable and deterministic handling of communication data is essential.

Having foreseen this upcoming need, the CLPA announced its one gigabit open industrial Ethernet network, CC-Link IE, as early as 2007. It provides full gigabit communication speeds all the way from field devices to controllers and beyond, enabling maximum productivity throughout all parts of a manufacturing enterprise.

The crucial benefit CC-Link IE delivers to Industry 4.0 applications is bandwidth. The paradigm is founded on information needing to be accessible in multiple places by multiple devices all in real-time, and therefore you need big pipes to make sure it gets to where it is needed, when it is needed. At the moment, CC-Link IE’s gigabit bandwidth is the only network available that delivers this kind of performance.

According to independent market research, it’s also the fastest growing industrial Ethernet technology. Traditionally popular in Asia, CC-Link IE is quickly proving its worth as a networking solution in the rest of the world. The recent IEC 61158/61784 certification achieved by CC-Link IE Field, further strengthens its position in Europe, helping players like the UK and Germany implement automation solutions in line with the Industry 4.0 philosophy and smart factories.

Industry collaboration
Having looked at existing technology, it’s now time to mention another crucial factor in making Industry 4.0 a viable solution for manufacturers: collaboration. As with any new technology, Industry 4.0 needs to be adopted on a large scale and according to set guidelines and standards.

For this to happen, industry collaboration is crucial. Manufacturers across countries should come together with governments and trade bodies to create a viable and useful framework.

Here at the CLPA, we’re growing this mission every day. In fact, one of the surprises we have in store for this year’s SPS Drives is the appointment of yet another major corporation to our board of directors. The addition will join the existing members, including Mitsubishi Electric, Cognex, 3M and Balluff, in developing a global strategy for the CLPA.

We will continue to help companies worldwide implement next-gen networking technologies and facilitate the transition to intelligent automation and Industry 4.0.

Gateway to Asia
At this year’s SPS Drives, the CLPA is also celebrating one year of its successful Gateway to Asia programme, aimed at helping companies grow their business in the region. The programme currently has 22 CLPA partners involved and offers a comprehensive package of development and marketing benefits to every member.

The CLPA has over 2,100 partners worldwide, offering 1,400 products from over 280 companies, making us one of the largest and most dynamic industry organisations in the world.

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