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By definition, the smart factory is characterised by the fact that machines and systems in all areas of production are networked with each other in order to be able to communicate with each other digitally. The Stuttgart Dürr Group has now used its concentrated expertise in manufacturing and digitalisation to finally bring hardware and software into perfect harmony. Together with the group subsidiary iTAC, Dürr's software specialists developed a modular overall solution for the planning, execution, control, monitoring, optimisation and predictive analysis of manufacturing. Instead of monolithic individual solutions, the new Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) system relies on microservices that provide functionalities as needed. The solution should enable a high degree of flexibility and consistency and offer a large number of interfaces for the sake of interoperability. The two companies will be showing what this looks like in concrete terms at HANNOVER MESSE 2023 in Hall 15, Stand E34.

Making one out of three

According to Dürr/iTAC, the central component of every digital factory is three higher-level control modules: MES (Manufacturing Execution System) controls and monitors production, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) collects and analyses data and HMI (Human Machine Interface) finally visualises the production and process flow. Until now, these components were mostly designed as stand-alone solutions. Dürr and iTAC have therefore combined their competencies and transferred the functional scope of MES, SCADA and HMI into a common, uniform MOM architecture. This was made possible by combining Dürr's DXQcontrol product family with iTAC's iTAC.MOM.Suite. This is intended to provide manufacturing companies, whether manufacturers or suppliers, with a future-proof industrial digitisation solution consisting of interoperable modules capable of covering all the functionalities of a smart factory.

Microservices architecture for agile manufacturing

The monolithic structure of previous MES solutions usually comprises different functionalities in a single software product, for example for data acquisition or logistics. In contrast, the MOM architecture from Dürr and iTAC follows a modular approach in which numerous microservices interact and communicate with each other while performing their tasks completely independently of each other. Unlike monolithic solutions, microservices have self-sufficient data storage and open interfaces for communication with other services. Since only modules that are actually needed need to be installed, the system is not only flexible to use, it also makes operation more sustainable, since fewer servers are needed in total. In addition, the modular structure of the MOM architecture is said to be less error-prone than monolithic architectures, which increases system availability.

Variable availability - cloud, on-premises or hybrid

According to the developers, there is another advantage of microservices: They can be flexibly installed on IIoT platforms in the cloud, on-site (on-premises) or in hybrid scenarios in the factory. This allows customers to use certain services via the cloud if they wish, while rolling out other functionalities on-site, for example for reasons of operating costs and production stability. The hybrid solution offers advantages especially for very large data volumes in the terabyte range. If part of the data is processed decentrally (on-edge), i.e. within the local environment, not all data sets have to be transferred to the cloud/the IIoT platform in a multitude of transactions. This saves time, costs and energy. In addition, local processing brings the necessary speed to control manufacturing processes in real time.