wire® and Industry 4.0
14 June 2017
Wire and the resulting products are essential to the functioning of technical systems, which is why they are used on such a universal scale. The world’s number one trade fair for the wire and cable industry is wire Düsseldorf, with the next edition scheduled to take place from 16th – 20th April 2018.
Wire Düsseldorf 2018 will include the latest information on state of the art manufacturing technology and trends in the wire, cable and wire processing industries, including Industry 4.0. The wire sector and its suppliers have played a pioneering role in this area. The central purpose of Industry 4.0 is to send and process large volumes of data at a high-speed. This is to optimise criteria such as cost, energy and resource efficiency and flexibility, and thus to increase the competitiveness of an enterprise. It also includes digital networking across corporate boundaries.
Industry 4.0 is based on the increasingly intensive use of electronics, a development that started in the 1970s and which would have been unthinkable without the wire sector and its suppliers. Companies soon started to use electronic technologies such as data processing, CNC, CA and CI. These are now vital components of everyday life in industry.
In the 1990s, however, a further boost came from the Internet and its numerous applications, causing profound changes in our working environments.
But it is in fact the companies in the wire sector that make the products which are so indispensable for electronic techniques. This even includes the conductors and above all fibre optics that can convey large volumes of digitised data within a short period of time. Suppliers, particularly manufacturers of wire and cable machinery and – later – also software companies have developed systems that can be regarded as essential to the development of Industry 4.0.
In the 1960s a number of machine manufacturers started to combine stand-alone machines into centrally controlled production facilities, which were eventually followed by automated solutions. In 1988 the German trade magazine Draht (Wire) presented an idea from Maschinenfabrik Niehoff GmbH & Co KG on the computer assisted manufacturing of wire, linking the process level with the group control level and allowing connectivity with the plant and corporate management levels. Software applications were developed whereby production data could be recorded, analysed and graphically mapped.
The Internet opened the way to the remote control, monitoring and maintenance of plants and machinery. Today’s software companies provide manufacturing execution systems (MES), which combine and process a variety of data flows. This makes it possible, for instance, to optimise the use of energy and raw materials and thus to leverage major potential cost savings. It also allows companies to make the best use of their production facilities, to respond swiftly to customer demands and to changes their order situation and indeed to keep their stocks at a low level. Furthermore, it shortens both development and delivery times. All this shows that the wire sector has already implemented many of the ideas of Industry 4.0.