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Modular concepts are one of the key elements of Industry 4.0. But until now, the flexibility they require has forced mechanical engineers to make compromises when it comes to control systems. Depending on the complexity of the system, they could use central or decentralized control, but always ran the risk of limited expandability. Or they could resolutely stick with central control and simply suffer the resultant overdimensioning for more basic applications. Global motion-centric automation specialist Lenze SE has now solved this dilemma for good. At HANNOVER MESSE 2017, the company from Lower Saxony demonstrated how its scalable, modular automation system and comprehensive toolbox of application-specific software modules can be combined to produce flexible machine concepts with far less engineering effort.

Thanks to the development of a new servo-drive system with integrated control unit, Lenze now has everything it needs to help mechanical and plant engineers achieve open, end-to-end modularization - without a compromise in sight. The constant need to choose between central and decentralized control can now be consigned to engineering history, as the harmonized product portfolio of hardware and software now provides both - to an equal degree and with immediate effect. The key is the FAST Application Software Toolbox, which is used to program technology modules. If required, the Toolbox can also help synchronize different modules as part of a more complex plant - and without any need for reprogramming. The application software runs just as effectively on decentralized controllers as on a central control system. What's more, FAST simplifies the engineering involved, as many control and motion functions are already supplied as ready-made software modules.