Sensors are the first point of contact with as well as the connecting link to Industry 4.0. Today, intelligent sensors are not only collecting data but are also preparing and processing it further to provide information. Sensors therefore no longer just “sense”. With the beginnings of digitization they are also starting to “think”. From this point onwards, the transmission of information produced in this way is becoming a key technology. The success of networked value creation chains is heavily dependent on the successful integration of sensors in the overall architecture of an application.
Interfaces regulate data flow
A clear definition of the required data and its integration into the networked data world is the basis of reliable network communication. Selecting the right type of communication protocol for a defined path plays an important part in this. Although Ethernet-based solutions are most common, IO-Link can also be used to establish network connections, particularly on devices that only require limited communication abilities.
In a smart production environment, many different sensors collect a high volume of data at many different locations, thereby increasing the importance of decentralized data processing. Additional interfaces to the data or software system open up new analyses and functions, which increase flexibility, quality, efficiency, and transparency in production.
The cloud is the future
Once the crucial issues regarding data security have finally been resolved, the cloud will play an ever increasingly important role in the near future. In the future, it will be possible to send sensor data directly to the cloud via application-specific connection technology – while bypassing the control system altogether.
The successful and comprehensive networking of all sensors to centralized or decentralized data processing systems opens up an unprecedented number of solutions. And an unparalleled quality of transparency is achieved throughout the entire process on account of the data and communication protocols used.