Machine-to-machine communication

Data structures and interfaces for machine and system connection

Industrial manufacturing still requires an enormous amount of manual support: this begins with the development of machine programs and extends through parameterization and organizing processes and cycles to manual quality control. This prolongs set up and rigging times and requires experienced machine operators, who intuitively pass on information between process stages and refer it to planning systems such as MES.

So far, very few companies have automated the connections between various process steps such as pre-machining and part measurement. In many companies, there is a lack of automated cycles to regulate data exchange between measuring systems and machine tools, integrated interfaces and standardized data formats. The Fraunhofer IPT is developing new M2M technology which will enable production networks to be expanded and designed to be more adaptive. The aim is to achieve automated exchange of information between planning systems, production machines and measuring instruments without the need for humans to exert direct control.  

Consistent data formats and standardized interfaces such as OPC Unified Architecture, for example, ensure continuous networking throughout the entire process chain regardless of the machines involved. The fully integrated communication solutions were developed in accordance with industrial standards and also feature robust, operator-friendly control solutions for the implementation of higher levels of automation.  

Total data consistency throughout the micro-structured free-form optics was achieved, for example, within the framework of the trans-regional special research field SFB/TR4 “Process Chains for the Replication of Complex Optics Components”. The process steps and in particular the range of manufacturing, replication and metrological machine systems were all interconnected in one network and linked to the corresponding planning systems.