Pneumatic 4.0 Taking Pneumatic to the Industry-4.0-Age
Pneumatics is intrinsically a user-friendly technology. And it’s set to become even more straightforward, versatile and flexible as the brand-new Festo Motion Terminal VTEM shall transport pneumatics into the era of Industry 4.0 – with apps that can replace over 50 individual components.
The latest developments in piezo technology and software have made it possible. Now, a new method of function integration – combined with software apps – will simplify the entire value chain, since only one piece of hardware will be required. With the Motion Terminal, different pressure levels can be used for opening and closing process valves. This can drastically decrease compressed air consumption if significantly less force or torque is required for one of the two working strokes. In addition, a diagnostic function can be activated after a freely selectable number of switching operations. This function detects any leaks on a drive-specific basis and, depending on their severity, simply sends a message indicating that maintenance is required or shuts down that section of the plant. Leak detection in extensive networks can thus be avoided.
The specially developed motion apps, as well as the leakage diagnostic function, save energy during operation. However, energy-saving piezo technology in the proportional valve’s preliminary stage plays a role in this respect as well.
Any production-related changes that need to be made to the plant, and thus to the individual parameters in the Motion Terminal, can be easily implemented via an integrated interface. Parameters can also be changed via the master control system and uploaded to the Motion Terminal in the field via communication interfaces. Festo has already presented systems from Siemens and Rockwell that have the capability to do this.
However, the Motion Terminal can also autonomously adjust required opening and closing times for process valves during commissioning. After the parameters have been set, exhaust air flow control is automatically adjusted during teach-in so that the required times are achieved. The plant is monitored during operation to ensure that the specified times are complied with – amongst other things, air flow control is adjusted so that the original values are maintained even if external influences such as increasing friction affect the times. This is done automatically and decentrally, i.e. directly in the field and without intervention by operating or maintenance staff.