The way forward is clear. In the interests of cost-efficient, highly flexible production, the links between machines and factories must become even more intelligent. Cyber-physical systems (CPS -known in Germany as 'Industry 4.0') provide comprehensive integration of individual systems into an industrial production process. ZwickRoell robotic testing systems are already using this principle today.
CPS involves the comprehensive integration of intelligent individual devices into an industrial production process for a total system incorporating the work cycle. ZwickRoell's autoEdition2 software operates precisely in accordance with this principle of decentralized intelligence. The autoEdition2 sequencer acts as Master, assigning individual work-steps to a device. This can be one or more testing machines, or it can also be additional measuring instruments such as scales, surface-measuring instruments etc. Once it has received its instructions the device will perform its allotted task independently and will only report back when this has been completed. This principle is like a digital route card. Each individual instrument is an active component, reporting back to the central process.
Through direct data-exchange, near-real-time information is available immediately to the central computer, via tablet visualization or as specific messages via e-mail and text message. This can be a simple transfer of test-results via standard interfaces, a status report such as 'Measured value XY outside tolerances' or a system fault message.
In future we will see decentralized intelligence develop further in the direction of an 'Internet of things'. Each device will have its own unique IP address and will itself actively exchange information as a sensor or an actuator with units to which it is linked, . One issue here will be the safety and security of the system with regard to operator and data respectively.