In the vision of Industry 4.0, all the relevant data for a production process is available in real time. In this context, intelligent components – which are the basis for every cyber-physical system – are a prerequisite as they play the central role for the consistent and uniform exchange of information in all Industry 4.0 processes. Due to the combination of sensors, actuators as well as data processing and communication, these intelligent components are able to network, organise and configure themselves in order to take on orders from the superordinate control level. One example of an intelligent component is the integrated stopper module “CPS Stopgate” by Festo, which is e.g. also used in the CP Learning Factory designed by Festo Didactic.
The CPS Stopgate is the prototype of an intelligent component. In one component this integrates both the necessary actuators as well as the sensors and controls to stop workpiece carriers on a conveyor belt at the right place and time. A standardised interface is used to make the function of the stopper module – for example “block” or “let pass” – available for the whole production facility. The wiring is already integrated in the component so that only one plug-in connection each is necessary on the exterior for compressed air, power and signal, which reduces the amount of cabling required.
The CPS Stopgate is a result of the research project OPAK (open engineering platform for autonomous, mechatronic automation components), which has been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The vision behind the OPAK project is a production facility that exists completely as a virtual depiction. Individual components or parts of the facility can therefore be modified or replaced very easily, as all procedures can be tested virtually before being physically implemented. Downtimes and standstills are thus kept to a minimum and the production can be flexibly adapted to changing conditions.