Automation fair SPS: A metaverse of the industry

When Gunther Kegel wants to show the trends of tomorrow’s industry today, he grabs his smartphone. He lights up the screen, presses the photo app and scans the QR code from one of the parts of the conveyor belt in front of him. The head of the Mannheim electronics specialist Pepperl+Fuchs pops up a table with information on his screen: name and position; how big, how heavy and how old the part is, what specifications it has, where by whom and when it was manufactured, with which sensors and with which software it was equipped.

A very special kind of data sheet – and it also has a very special name: administration shell. The rather unwieldy-sounding term stands for something that is essential for the fourth stage of the industrial revolution: for transparency and standards. Because if machines are to talk to machines via the so-called industrial Internet, they not only have to understand each other, they also have to know what they are actually supposed to be talking about. And a digitized collection of data sheets is a good basis for this.

The revolution is here

Everything revolves around machines and systems, a lot about data acquisition and data processing. “Digitization and automation are right at the top of the agenda for the entire industry,” says Gunther Koschnick, a specialist in automation at the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (ZVEI). Without a digital twin, almost nothing would be developed in the industry, no cars, no wind turbines, no assembly lines, says Rainer Brehm, a specialist in factory automation Siemensone of the three largest factory outfitters in the world.

“Many of what we see here at the trade fair didn’t even exist five years ago,” says Kegel from Pepperl+Fuchs, who is also President of the ZVEI. The fourth industrial revolution, with its interconnectedness of everything and everyone, may be growing more slowly than was hoped ten years ago. But it doesn’t have to come first, “we’re right in the middle of it,” says Kegel. And the SPS automation trade fair in Nuremberg is something like the hub around which everything revolves.

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