Drives and Controls Magazine
‘Plug-and-produce’ demo heralds no-programming future
Published:  24 June, 2019

At the 2019 Hannover Fair, Lenze demonstrated its vision of the future in which production lines will no longer need to be reprogrammed when new products are introduced. Instead, manufacturer-independent standards will allow various modules to configure the production line automatically and exchange data with one another.

This “plug-and-produce” concept is based on the open OPC UA and PackML specifications. Using an administration shell to provide data descriptions of machine “skills”, the modules can link together automatically and organise interactions in production processes.

To achieve this vision, Lenze wants to create manufacturer-independent standards and is looking for support from OEMs and standards committees. It says that OEMs will benefit from uniform interfaces and standards that will simplify the modularisation of machines and systems. The concept will also protect the OEM’s intellectual property because no specialist third-party expertise will be needed to ensure seamless communication and networking.

Integration and programming efforts will be reduced and the integration of visualisation systems will be simplified. Lenze also predicts that its approach will result in improved functions, shorter times-to-market and more efficient use of personnel.

Lenze believes that factories of the future will use manufacturer-independent standards to operate on a plug-and-produce basis

There will benefits for end-users as well, offering them improved flexibility and adaptability, more openness when choosing machines and suppliers, and easier reusability of machine modules. Production will adapt faster to market changes and customer requirements. Plug-and-produce will also allow more frequent product changes due to easier, faster retooling and high plant availability.

Lenze says that current standards already allow large parts of its plug-and-produce concept to be implemented today. The task is now to fill the gaps. It wants to talk to customers, partners and professional associations about its plans.