Tuesday 20 October 2015

Cyber physical production systems (CPPS) in plastics industry - Part I: A general overview

CPPS - Part I
When attending the 2nd international injection moulding conference organized by the IKV in Aachen, I came across the expression "Cyber physical production systems (CPPS)". There was an entire session dedicated to inform us about this term and its derivations.

How a possible structure of a CPPS can look like? It will cover 3 main areas:

  • Services: There will be human machine interfaces (for example smart devices such as smartphones) which have dynamically integrated apps. Those apps are capable of unbounded data exchange with the physical production machines.
  • Data storage: All the data derived from the physical objects will be saved dynamically in information networks.
  • Physical automation components: All your production machines and automation components will communicate through the network themselves. There will be always access and identification of the produced part and process.  

Based upon those 3 areas, the term CPPS expresses the utilization of a cyber application (for example on your smartphone) for accessing large amounts of real-time data of a physical production system, involving for example, an injection moulding machine. This data can as well be analyzed by algorithms, which facilitate quick identification of production trends combined with improved decision making. The interaction between a physical system and the human results in a social-technical production system.

Furthermore, the production facilities, employees and even the companies along the value chain will be integrated in a horizontal manner together with real time communication. Precise mass production of individualized products will be enabled by using decentral communication via techniques like Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFIT).

Another important term is ‘Industry 4.0’ which refers to the 4th industrial revolution. This can be seen according to Prof. Hopmann (the chairman of this session) as “an evolution of smart production ways”

What were the other industrial revolutions? Here an overview:

  • 18th century: 1st industrial revolution were mechanical plants used water and steam power for production.
  • 20th century: 2nd industrial revolution results in mass production.
  • Early 70’s of 20th century: 3rd industrial revolution when IT took over further automation
  • Predicted for 2025: 4th industrial revolution based on cyber physical production systems.

Best practice examples of how smart production can look like:

The company Parat GmbH which manufactures thermoforming and CNC- machines have created a digital fabrication with a nearly 100% vertical integration of their CNC machine production. This means that there is no programming of the machines itself in the production. All the CNC programs needed are written in an automatic way offline.

Another best practice example is Festo’s Technology lead plant. It established a cooperative development process for their polymer parts together with a fully automated flexible manufacturing cell (paperless production, only CAD/CAM). Process simulations based on DOE are guiding the production. Furthermore, they built up a central production control system. This example shows how stepwisely an evolution takes place. This is also a main differentiator compared to other industrial revolutions.

To sum up this first part: the long-term vision of CPPS is to establish a smart factory and smart enterprises. In consequence, new business models will evolve and with them new chances of adding value to the end consumer.

Exiting is to see how in the field of injection moulding things can evolve and change. The role of the main injection moulding machine manufacturers will be presented in the second part of this series.

Greetings Herwig


[1] Proceedings 2nd IIMC, IKV Aachen

[2] Kunststoffe, 9/2015, p. 28

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