We produce fluid power solutions

Industry 4.0 - Interview with Christian H. Kienzle

Christian H. Kienzle (CEO ARGO-HYTOS Group)

What predestines the Fluid Technology for Industry 4.0?
Fluid Technology uses fluids as operating medium and these are differently used in our components and systems. This also changes the state of the operating media depending on the application of, for example, air and oil, which indeed calls for the detection of this change of the operating state and its effect on the overall system. In my view, the Fluid Technology is a more sophisticated technology such as the electrics. Intelligent fluid and motion control technology, implemented sensor technology for data collection, automated commissioning possibilities and communication possibilities among each other are already “state of the art” in our industry.
The Fluid Technology can thus actually be described as a pioneer of the Industry 4.0 philosophy.

Are there any components that are particularly suitable for Industry 4.0?
Manufacturers of hydraulic and pneumatic components and systems have long been implementing decentralized drive solutions with integrated intelligence, for example in hydropumps, valves and cylinders with integrated fluid and motion control technology and the technological ability to communicate with one another: servo pneumatics and proportional hydraulics are the best examples.

What opportunities does Industry 4.0 offer for the Fluid Technology?
With our intelligent components we achieve a boost to innovation. Every manufacturer puts its products to the test and has to define the “DNA” of its components. In the simplest case, each component can specify its state in the system. These data provide the possibility to calculate algorithms for self-optimization, diagnosis and status description. User-friendly systems are created for customers who want to optimize costs and benefits. We want to maintain and expand our competitive edge in the Fluid Technology.

Does the user really want to have 4.0 applications?
The internet has radically changed our life and the younger generation is growing up in a digital world. Do you think that this generation wants to say farewell to touch screen, joy stick or voice control? And this is how machines will be operated in the future!
Machine and plant construction plays a decisive role. A smart production for our factories and new business models for the end products of our customers will be made possible through Industry 4.0 and are already emerging. But the development path is and remains challenging. Only in close contact with society and politics, the high requirements for research and development, training and qualification, norms and standards, legal and data security can be met. It is simply a question of moving the industrial location Germany to the future. The machine and plant construction sees a great opportunity in Industry 4.0. According to the VDMA Impulse Study (2015), almost 60 % of the companies are concerned with Industry 4.0. But Industry 4.0 is not an end in itself. Every company has to ask about the benefits and the added value for its products and production. The aim is not to achieve complete integration but to increase sales through new product innovations or business models or to reduce costs through improved production processes. Every company has to develop its own vision of Industry 4.0 and its own strategy, selecting the concepts and technologies of Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 is no walk in the park.

What do designers have to consider who want to design Industry 4.0 capable fluid components?
Industry 4.0 stands for networking the physical and digital world, communication, data acquisition with processing and storage. Design engineers of the drive and fluid technology as important supplier industries must take account of the aforementioned technical criteria of the Industry 4.0 ability of the products - already in the development of ideas and project planning, in the design and engineering. The interdisciplinary cooperation of all technical disciplines, involved in the development process, is a pre-requisite. But innovative companies provide their employees with these modern tools. Working with these tools is fun!
For the implementation of Industry 4.0, the supplier industries need cross-vendor-specific definitions and standardizations, which the designer must consider and implement. Existing standards such as, for example, features, reference architecture, interfaces, data logs and implementation guidelines must be observed.
Industry 4.0 capability presupposes standardized identification, semantics (vocabulary and syntax) and communication. A lot of hard work is still to be done here.

Especially in Fluid Technology – which status data can already be recorded today and which reasonable data can be drawn by sensors in the future?
Industry 4.0 will not change the boundaries of physics, that is, by means of sensors, physical parameters will continue to be the focus of the acquisition of operating data. Pressure, temperature, flow, vibration and noise measurement are only given as an example. Our company, ARGO-HYTOS, deals in particular with sensors for the oil state and the prediction for the use of the medium (predictive maintenance).

If you think about 20 years ahead – what will the Fluid Technology look like in the future (does it still exist or will it be replaced by electrical engineering)?
Without doubt, the Fluid Technology – hydraulics and pneumatics – will still exist in 20 years. The fluid sector is an innovative and important supplier sector for a wide range of applications. Of course, the Fluid Technology is in competition with other technologies and faces these challenges. Increasing demand in automation for pneumatic solutions proves success. The hydraulics is characterized by a high and flexible power density.
The operator’s expectations on a machine are high productivity, high reliability, low TCO, high availability and energy efficiency. Drives of hydraulics and electrical engineering are respectively used for specific processes. And in the middle, hybrid drives do meet.

Will Industry 4.0 open new fields of application for the Fluid Technology?
Also the Fluid Technology is growing according to its tasks and challenges – new fields of application will open up, engineers are creative!
New applications and business models are opened up by consistently implementing and using the new functionalities resulting from 4.0 - examples: automated commissioning, autonomous working machines, self-controlling and monitoring systems. But here, the user of our customers as a component and system manufacturer is required and not primarily the engineer. It could be an extension and intensification of the shift of the demand situation in the direction of service. Here, in fact, the digital society may describe the way to us. Uber sends its greetings!