Apex Expo session outlines Connected Factory Initiative progress

Feb. 16, 2017

San Diego, CA. IPC Apex Expo provided an opportunity for participants in IPC’s 2-17 Connected Factory Initiative to outline their progress. During a Tuesday afternoon “Buzz Session,” moderator David Bergman of IPC and speakers Jason Spera of Aegis Software, Marc Peo of Heller Industries, and Mahi Duggirala of Flex described their subcommittee’s work toward enabling Industry 4.0.

Spera commented that in his experience with software, standardization initiatives tend to stall, with participants turning to proprietary approaches. Over the past 18 months, however, it has become clear that connectivity is so important that everyone is interested in solving the attendant challenges.

At the heart of the initiative is the Connected Factory Exchange, or CFX, an IoT-style protocol. The speakers emphasized that the goal is not to tell anyone what to do with the data emitted by various machines but rather to establish a prerequisite for getting to Industry 4.0.

As the result of the subcommittee’s “Machine Communications Functional Requirements” survey, the subcommittee has prioritized the transport, encoding, and content elements of the protocol. In particular, the subcommittee agreed on a unique approach to data content, Spera said, which moves beyond the traditional efforts at machine-specific approaches.

Modern machines, he added, are often collections of multiple capabilities—for example, a conveyer, incoming barcode acquisition, a printer, and inspection. Such hybrids of multiple capabilities result in overlapping data sets. The subcommittee is considering a Lego-block approach that would build a full dataset from constituent parts.

See also “Connected factory group advances machine-data interface standard.”

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