Drives and Controls Magazine
Harting wins Hermes Award for smart factory technology
Published:  25 April, 2016

The German manufacturer Harting has won the prestigious Hermes Award for industrial innovation for its Mica (Modular Industry Computing Architecture) mini-industrial computer. This the second time that Harting has won the award, which is presented every year at the Hannover Fair. The presentation was made at the opening ceremony in the presence of US president Barak Obama and German chancellor Angela Merkel, who also visited the Harting stand the following day.

Mica, which was developed by Harting’s IT Software Development subsidiary, is a Linux-based modular platform that can add intelligence to existing machines and equipment, allowing companies to migrate towards “smart” factories, and SMEs to enter the world of Industry 4.0.

“By installing numerous integrated Mica modules – which essentially represent the nervous system of a digitised factory – an existing plant can be gradually migrated over to Industry 4.0, shortening the time needed for product changeovers along the way,” explained Dr Wolfgang Wahlster, chair of the judging panel, who is also director of the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence.

Mica allows users to virtualise field devices and to add their own customisable hardware components that communicate via USB. It can operate using Power-over-Ethernet and allows secure authentication and communication between the various Mica modules.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and US president Barack Obama with two members of the Harting family, Dietmar (left) and Philip (right). The Hermes Award is in the foreground.

The four other companies shortlisted for the Hermes Award included Block Transformers, for a single-channel circuit-breaker system that offers protection up to 80A and – unusually – a British company, ITM Power, which has developed a compact plant for the flexible, on-demand production of hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis.