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The Smart Factory: We are ready for Industry 4.0

Advances in global networks, together with the digitalisation of production, are taking us to new heights in the pump industry.

The Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communication and increasingly smart production facilities have been heralding the fourth industrial revolution for quite some time. Here, actual production is combined with digital processes to create what are known as cyber-physical systems. When they cover all systems and processes, we call this a Smart Factory.

The objective of Industry 4.0 and the Smart Factory is to maximise productivity and the ability to quickly and efficiently adapt production and its various processes in response to changing conditions and new orders, including for unit batches. To achieve this, the new systems of the future require maximum efficiency in terms of resources, availability, operational reliability and shorter, more flexible times to market.

The individual products must be able to communicate with each other in a decentralised manner and respond autonomously to system changes. This is all possible thanks to smart products and services whose digitalisation capacity creates a solid foundation for developing the Smart Factory.

Basic characteristics of smart products and services

Smart products are characterised by a series of basic features. First of all, they differ in their capacity for connectivity: they can be static and passive through a QR code on the product, which is scanned by mobile devices, or dynamic and active through providing data in real time through network connections.

Furthermore, all of the smart products used in Industry 4.0 can be uniquely identified digitally and can be polled by using their serial number, for example. The quantity of relevant information available depends on the type of network and level of digitalisation.

Smart products contribute independently to the sustainable optimisation of a company’s operations through long-term distributed intelligence. For example, they carry out functions autonomously, such as independently adjusting their operation or reporting errors.

Networked smart products enable a multitude of services. Each work step and each change to the product is recorded and provided digitally. This makes it possible, for example, to create digital log files or carry out monitoring via a mobile phone, which helps to increase efficiency during operation and maintenance. As the information from the smart service is made available on several platforms and devices, we have greater flexibility in many stages of the processes.

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Smart pumps

Thanks to digitalisation and smart networks, pumping systems are becoming more agile, more efficient and more reliable. The smart pumps designed for Industry 4.0 allow users to obtain up-to-date, relevant information regarding status, operation and history at any given time. To ensure that different applications and users always work with the same correct database, this information is provided by the digital twin, a virtual replica of the real pump. The real and digital twins exchange data, which is continuously recorded by the sensors. When combined with standard interfaces, the digital twin serves as a base for connecting the pump to other devices and systems.

Digital twin in the cloud

The various users and functions of the company’s different divisions can access the digital twin during each step of the process, either via the cloud or by connecting to the device directly. Details of operation or log data can therefore be accessed quickly and easily. At the same time, all of the data is protected from unauthorised access and data loss, which means that the digital twin is the central element of the Smart Factory.

Smart products and services available

The principle behind the smart pump is relatively simple: the sensors and control systems are directly integrated in the product. The devices are connected quickly and easily via cable or wirelessly, which facilitates on-site updates. Operation can be adjusted locally, both automatically and autonomously, and the information is available via the interface.

This allows the smart pumps to carry out specific functions enabling them to control themselves and independently adjust their settings to the actual process value. The user can easily check the smart pump’s operation via an app on their smartphone or tablet. This digital network results in greater transparency, increasing the level of safety and reliability of the processes.

KSB: a reliable partner for Industry 4.0

As a founding member of the SmartFactoryKL technology initiative, KSB has many years’ experience in developing solutions for Industry 4.0 and offers a wide range of smart products and services designed to improve the productivity of its pumps.

One of the most successful is KSB Guard, a comprehensive cloud solution for remote monitoring of pump populations. At the core of KSB Guard is its sensor unit, which is installed directly on the pump and records the pump vibration and temperature data. The transmission and battery unit supplies energy to the sensor unit and transfers the measurement data to the connection port. Maintaining the highest security standards, the connection port transfers data to KSB Cloud via the mobile phone network. Pump data and additional information can be evaluated simply and easily via the KSB Guard app or web portal. This facilitates the scheduling of maintenance work and the targeted use of resources.

Smart pumps as part of the Smart Factory

Another smart product is the PumpDrive variable speed system, which continually adjusts the pump speed and, hence, pump output in line with actual system demand, ensuring that the pump operates as efficiently and reliably as possible. Thanks to its built-in wireless module, PumpDrive can be controlled via Bluetooth. This means that a smartphone can act as a “remote control” for PumpDrive, and all of the data and information are available in the app.

Based on its vision regarding Industry 4.0, KSB not only provides smart products and services, but also develops solutions for its products through pilot projects or in cooperation with partners, thus contributing to driving digitalisation in industry. Proactive research and development are essential at KSB. Teams of KSB experts around the world are working on digital hydraulic system networks. We cooperate with universities, research institutes and associate companies, analysing trends, adapting technologies and developing business models focused on the future.