Digitalised pneumatics experience a breakthrough with Festo
In the upcoming Hannover Messe trade fair, Festo will debut the Festo Motion Terminal around the world, a groundbreaking technological achievement realised by combining hardware and software to produce a digital valve.
Developed over a period of three years, the Festo Motion Terminal is not only an intelligent pneumatic automation platform created for Industry 4.0, it is a completely new solution space for the manufacturing of products for the future that may be hard to conceive and conceptualise even today.
A growing demand by consumers for individually adapted and customised products at affordable prices is one of the largest challenges the machinery and plant construction industry is faced with in the present time. On top of keeping up with demand for mass-produced goods for the global population – soon to hit the eight-billion mark – demand for small-series production all the way down to lot size 1 is also expanding. Industry 4.0 and its related digitalisation have provided the required vital technologies, and Festo has brought it up to the next level. With the Festo Motion Terminal, Festo has now developed, for the very first time, a universal, programmable platform for highly flexible and adaptive automation for customisation with digitalised pneumatics.
A broad range of valve functions can be programmed and addressed remotely by use of apps in many valve functions. However, the Festo Motion Terminal integrates the functions from more than 50 individual components, greatly simplifying the engineering process and rendering many hardware components obsolete. Machinery and plant manufacturers can take advantage of the new designs for their platforms and modules, and the flexible and adaptable systems, communication ability, and data transfer, among many other functions offer plant operators a competitive advantage.
Spokesman of the Management Board of Festo AG, Alfred Goll, said, “We have created an automation platform that integrates all functions, so that adaptive and flexible production is made economically feasible – and we have revolutionised pneumatics in the process!”
“In technological terms, this entirely new platform combines mechanics, electronics, control engineering, and software,” Head of Future Motion Solutions Management and Project Manager, Dr Julia Duwe, stated. “With a choice of various motion apps, clients have the possibility of both registering the condition of their systems in real time and modifying their functions, thereby flexibly adapting to the demands of their customers. The Festo Motion Terminal ensures consistent process quality and transparency in the construction and operation of production plants, provides flexibility throughout the machinery life cycle and reduces costs arising from faults.”
Faster, simpler, less complex
When a system with a programmable platform is set to be adapted and customised by the client, the mechanical engineer does not need to deliver complicated hardware modifications for numerous individual components, thus cutting down the time for delivery. New functions are quickly and intuitively programmed on the Festo Motion Terminal, and the software functions also enable the engineer to provide additional services along with new business models. The sensors that have been integrated also supply operators with data in real time and offer insights to the system’s internal processes. Any disturbances or disruptions in the processes are made easily comprehensible and visible, and in the event of critical wear or divergent parameters, the virtual production documentation will issue a warning. Digitalised functionality is programmed and guarded in a “black box”, rather than exposed to the surrounding hardware, significantly increasing the protection for the intellectual property involved.
User-friendliness was greatly emphasised when developing the software, and now allows the user to access the device directly through the Internet. Numerous motion apps can be configured using either with the browser or the more conventional machine control. Modifications to production orders can be programmed via app during regular operation, and there is no need for reconfiguration, and the variable cycle and process times allow flexible production.
Sustainable and efficient
The energy-efficient operations of pneumatic applications significantly bring down the energy consumption, and depending on the application, the piezo valves can also save up to 99 per cent of energy in comparison to orthodox solenoid valves, and a diagnosis app is also offered for locating leaks in the system.
Saving up to 70 per cent of compressed air consumption in relation to conventional equipment is also possible. Thanks to its flexible programmability, the functions of the Festo Motion Terminal can be extended continuously, and its production capabilities, evergreen – also further lengthening its lifespan.
For organisations looking to be game changers, the Festo Motion Terminal opens many new doors and enables many companies to keep their production capabilities abreast with Industry 4.0.