Industry 4.0 > Industry 4.0 and networking in machinery industry

Industry 4.0 - new Quest study

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Market survey about the realization of Industry 4.0

In which development stages machine-builders realizing Industry 4.0 in networking

150 representatively selected German machine-builders outlined the changes they have realized or want to realize regarding networking of machines toward Industry 4.0. From these statements a code of practice emerged, a guideline for the realization of Industry 4.0 in machine automation.

June 29th, 2016 - Eleven machine-related changes in automation are investigated through the market survey. We will pick out the networking of machines. In this context, three criteria are substantial.

  1. Industry 4.0 is not a component, as it is well known, but a project that is realizing itself through a process. So the market analysis divides this process into development stages.

  2. Industry 4.0 is a systemic project. Therefore the development stages differentiate the changes according to their system scope: Changes in the sense of Industry 4.0 at individual points of machine automation, at subsystems or overall at systems.

  3. Among the features of Industry 4.0 at present the cyber physical the system (CPS) is in the foreground in technological regard. It means the vertically and horizontally linked and able to communicate component/subsystem/system. So in the following Industry 4.0 is briefly expressed as I4 quality.


Now, how do the changes of the machine-builders look like regarding networking toward Industry 4.0, i.e. I4 quality? In the following the percentages refer to those machine-builders that are practical on the way toward Industry 4.0.

I4 quality of networking individually realized or shall be realized

40% of the machine-builders are changing the networking in the sense of an individual realization of I4 quality. This means:


For vertical networking up to the MES or ERP the machine-builder provides interfaces. Regarding horizontal networking of the machine it depends on its kind of location (individual machine, subsystem, line). Data flow is not based on a separate machine server or a cloud.

The networking of machines toward Industry 4.0 in machinery industry.
Source: "The current process of the realization of Industry 4.0 in automation and its prospect in the German machinery industry" from Quest TechnoMarketing, May 2016.

Changes or applications of machine-builders to this development stage are e.g.:

  • „We already have vertical and horizontal interlinking. The horizontal one runs over Profibus, for one year also more and more over ProfiNet and the vertical one over TCP/IP. The data are preprocessed and passed on.“ (Machine tools)

  • „Data are supplied vertically to the ERP, whereby their analysis is customer’s duty. In turn some customers provide the production jobs as well as their encoding over the ERP.“ (Packaging machines)

  • „The Networking with the ERP at the customer is a pilot project. We are very strongly customer dependent. We want to make data available via a specified interface so that they may be used by the ERP. This information concerns the numbers of items, maintenance and fault conditions in the operating system.“ (Printing/paper-handling machines)

I4 quality of networking realized in subsystems or shall be realized

A fifth of the machine-builders (19%) are about to implement I4 quality in subranges or subsystems. This means:


The vertical and horizontal networking is connected with a machine server (or a cloud) providing comprehensive and substantial machine state and process data as well as evaluation possibilities.


Changes or applications of machine-builders to this development stage are e.g.:

  • „The data are compressed and connected with the file system. They report to the ERP and also return. At this point OPC-UA is a very intensively used technique. On the other hand the forerunners of UA were very critical.“ (Building/glass/ceramic machines)

  • „We are already quite advanced in the assembling within the automotive manufacture, both concerning the horizontal and the vertical networking, already providing this networking for years. Each workpiece carries a data storage medium. Here all data, concerning quality and machine data, are recorded, stored and preprocessed. This ensures the possibility of backtracking for the customer in order to draw appropriate conclusions for capacity utilization. Most customers use their own MES and their host system; otherwise we can offer a MES to a certain extent to the customer.“ (Robotics and automation)

  • „The networking in the new plant concept considers that we want to have digitally linked as many as possible devices in 1.5 years. For this purpose the topology of the network as well as the respective port are now stored. The coupling to the ERP transfers production reports, deadlock reasons, depending on which the customer wants to.“ (Wood processing machines)

I4 quality of networking overall realized or shall be realized

14% of the machine-builders are realizing I4 quality in an overall manner, i.e. as system. This means:


The horizontal and vertical networking is used beyond data evaluation for production control.   Changes or applications of the machine-builders to this development stage are e.g.:

  • „The machines are vertically and horizontal interlinked via Ethernet field bus. It proceeds vertically into the own control system and then into the MES. We provide a hundred percent data tracing to all electronic and significant mechanic devices that are plugged in the machine. So the production machine turns into a measuring machine that produces data and communicates.“ (Rubber/plastics machines)

  • „From the view of our customers we are to deliver up front regarding Industry 4.0. However, we prefer a different approach. We will build a bridge by software integrated into the application-server. Here we focus the information of the plant and place it at the disposal of the customer as analysis system. Each component with its life cycle and its type is linked over ProfiNet and over TCP/IP and UDP up to the I/O level. We have the interface with our application server, the customer may integrate it into its ERP, be it SAP or something else. We are not yet finished with this project, something is implemented and will still take one to two years; depending on the requests the one will be implemented sooner the other one later.“ (Building/glass/ceramic machines)

  • „From the field level up to the machine control, up to the production line and up to several production lines there is a vertical networking via OPC with interlinking at MES and ERP. Each machine has its own server, vertically and horizontally able to communicate. The production jobs come over the ERP. In our sector, the ERP is to 100% SAP. Obviously SAP is making a MES more and more unnecessary.“ (Packaging machines)

Changes in networking still no I4 quality

23% of the machine-builders are taking changes at the networking that are still no I4 quality. Such changes concern e.g.:


The vertical or horizontal networking of the machine up to Scada.

  • „Currently we are busy to make the system as transparent and as simple as possible; for this purpose we offer remote maintenance modules and software updates, which we operate from our location at the worldwide customers, provided, the plant makes this possible. That concerns all machines with PLC. We offer these features as options, required now and then by large companies for the interlinking to Scada.“ (Food processing machines)

  • „We are continuously busy to develop own software for the upward networking.“ (Robotics and automation)

  • „We are planning a standardization of the networking either over OPC-UP or that the data are stored standardized into databases. The related format is not determined yet. The data streams run bi-directionally. The deployment of the data in the individual control systems as well as the passing on to MES or ERP are not so much implemented yet.“ (Conveyer)

Changing networking toward Industry 4.0 machine-builders' most frequent starting point

Changes of the networking of machines toward Industry 4.0 are the most common starting point of the machine-builders. 82% of the machine-builders, being on the way toward Industry 4.0, are focused on changing the networking. These machine-builders produce 88% of the machine items.


The sectors of the machinery industry conveyor, robotics and automation as well as food processing machines are above average busy in changing the networking while machine tools and wood processing machines are taking actions in changing networking to an under average extent.

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