In 2014, HARTING has seen growth from its mix of market sectors, which include transportation, renewable energy, broadcasting and industrial automation as well as the traditional electronics and electrical markets. However as 2014 draws to a close there is a feeling of reduced optimism in the market compared to the beginning of the year. The major export markets for the UK appear to be flat and so growth in 2015 will be more of a challenge.
Continued product innovation is important to refresh demand and satisfy customer needs, and in 2014 HARTING has continued to evolve from a component manufacturer into a technology solutions company developing total interconnect solutions for the “integrated industry” environment where systems, hardware, software and embedded electronics come together in an integrated smart network infrastructure.
This concept, for which the term “Industry 4.0” has been coined, symbolises a fourth industrial revolution to follow the earlier examples of the steam engine, the assembly line and electronic controls.
In the Industry 4.0 environment, products will control their own production, and to accomplish this, they will depend on cyber physical systems (CPS). Although this is a new term, it is only a different way of describing a steady decentralisation that was initiated some 20 years ago and resulted in the formation of functional modules within the industrial environment. Two decades later, these systems boast greater computing power, more sensors, more software, and higher intelligence.
But a comprehensive view makes it clear beyond doubt that we are witnessing a revolution here, because the product itself is telling the CPS what it has to do. Consequently, CPS is not merely a decentralised automation unit in an otherwise centralised system.
There’s more to it than that: it works autonomously, has almost fully matured and provides services that in aggregate make the production process more flexible and efficient.
In this context, the fact that key technologies such as RFID, Ethernet, SoA (Service oriented Architecture) and OPC-UA (OLE for Process Control Unified Architecture) already exist is highly fortuitous. These technologies further these developments, while having made them possible in the first place.
From where we stand today, it is now a matter of reaching the tipping point: in other words, the leap to the large-scale deployment of these technologies in industry – which will certainly not be long in arriving.
Industry 4.0 means having a smart factory environment. HARTING’s latest generation of products like RFID transponders and readers, middleware, software and interconnection technologies will complement this integration.
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