Modern engineering in the context of industry 4.0:
How do automation and IT merge together in heavy clay ceramics?

For many years now, digitalization has been making inroads into more and more areas of life. On the private side, it has become completely normal to use such virtual services as Google Maps, Spotify, LinkedIn, etc. That same trend, however, is also pervading the industry. It is now a matter of course for automation equipment to get its own integrated Web connection, for remote service concepts to be implemented with no substantial loss of time, and for machines to be controlled via apps. This leads to the question of how useful all this can be in and for the industry and which challenges plant operators and mechanical engineers are having to meet.

The entire industry finds itself confronted with new requirements. Product diversity is expanding continuously, even though such individualization must not be allowed to increase the unit cost of products. The only way to bridge that gap is to implement a comprehensive digital value chain along with flexible machine conceptions in which the product design includes digital mapping of the variant diversity from the very start.

The digital data created at the beginning of the product life cycle are the foundation for all further steps required for producing goods of any kind. Production planning denotes, of course, the planning and design of plant and machinery with the aid of appropriate simulation tools that make it possible to optimize a production facility even before it is built.

In production engineering, the automation technology is sized, selected and configured on the basis of data deriving from the previous phases of processing. Thanks to the availability of appropriate simulation tools, commissioning has now also been partly virtualized, taking place before the real plant is correctly installed and shown to run flawlessly. Finally, actual production is brought to life with the help of manufacturing execution systems (MES) that uninterruptedly monitor, optimize and control the course of production.

At a digital factory, then, virtual elements, i.e., those implemented as software, and real production equipment work together in direct connection. This interconnection between the virtual and real worlds yields new opportunities in the areas of data consistency and continuity.

Wolfgang Schroeder, Siemens AG, Nuremberg, Germany/Josef Schröter, Keller HCW GmbH, Ibbenbüren-Laggenbeck, Germany

Related articles:

Issue 2015-8

ceramitec 2015: meeting point for the ceramics industry

1 International exhibitors and visitors Gerhard Gerritzen, Deputy Managing Director at Messe München, noted with satisfaction: “ceramitec 2015 is one of Messe München’s events with the broadest...

Issue 2020-2 Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Glock, Department of Civil Engineering at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Germany

Digitalization as the key to efficient building

While productivity is rising steadily in most sectors, it has been stagnating in the construction industry for 30 years. What is the reason for this? C. G.: To be honest, the construction industry...

Issue 2021-01 Sacmi Here

Digital Manufacturing Software

Here is a Sacmi-developed digital manufacturing software package that allows fully digital control of factory flows. With this software, Sacmi aims to provide its customers with all the benefits of a...


93rd meeting of the DKG & symposium on high performance ceramics parallel to ceramitec 2018

ceramitec 2018 will be an all-encompassing meeting place for the industry. The trade show, which will be held from 10 to 13 April 2018, will coincide with the 93rd Annual Meeting of the German Ceramic...

Issue 2018-6

Production work in the future 

Digitalization is changing every facet of our life. With the increasing application of digital technologies in production and related work areas, new forms of socio-technical work systems are...