It can happen that fast. The "Open Industry 4.0 Alliance" was launched in the spring of 2019 and in the short time since then its membership has risen from 8 to around 60. One of the members is VEGA. That’s because the Black Forest instrumentation specialist fully supports the Alliance’s goal of helping the diverse range of cloud-based services now available on the market to achieve a kind of teamwork capability.

Whether Smart Factory, Industry 4.0 or IIoT: ultimately, these terms all mean the same thing Factories, machines and components are becoming increasingly networked and smarter. With its comprehensive sensor portfolio, VEGA offers high-performance measurement technology for all level and pressure requirements – from standard applications to highly complex solutions for any conceivable production environment. It is becoming increasingly important to link production more closely with IT technology and use measuring results for intelligent control across the entire business.

Just-in-time solution from VEGA
A powerful example of this is the software technology embodied by VEGA Inventory System. It builds the bridge between automated logistics and IT. Thanks to its data streams, it enables goods to flow efficiently, “just in time". It practically eliminates the need for massive storage facilities that have to buffer the supply of materials directly on site at production locations. Materials are delivered automatically and exactly when the production process requires them. The data for this is provided by service-proven VEGA sensor technology.

“Nowadays, premier instrument manufacturers need to provide some level of IIoT services via the cloud. At VEGA, we support our customers with a complete package of automation solutions that ensure faster and more flexible production processes,” says Jakob Hummel, VEGA Product Manager for Digital Solutions, summarizing the current situation at the company.

Openness is the key
The more Industry 4.0 becomes a reality and the more ubiquitous proprietary cloud services become, the clearer it becomes that Industry 4.0 cannot be implemented on its own. Industry 4.0 depends on collaboration and compatibility across the entire value-added chain – from supplier to manufacturer. Open standards are the determining factor for success. That’s why VEGA has been a member of “Open Industry 4.0 Alliance” since the beginning of the year. Around 60 members now trust in its approach to implementing open and standardised links in production – from individual components right through to servicing.

More freedom for customers
For customers, this means having a free choice of modular and scalable solution components. “Nobody has to fear a so-called ‘vendor lock-in’ anymore,” explains Hummel. Until now, if you opted for a particular supplier’s product, you also more or less committed yourself to his technology, but “changing suppliers is now much easier thanks to the Alliance’s open standard.” The customer no longer has to automatically buy new instruments and machines from the previous supplier. He can also combine the solutions of multiple suppliers without fearing the compatibility of technology. “In the coming years, the Alliance will enable us to speak one language when offering our products,” says Hummel, looking ahead to the future. This will make everything a lot easier on the way to smart processes and factories.

Overcoming the multitude of insular solutions
The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance itself likes to talk about the open ecosystem it is aiming for. It clearly states that it wants to overcome the multitude of individual insular solutions that exist today and thus give European industry a decisive boost. Together, the current and future member companies are planning a unifying, mandatory  framework for an “Open Industry 4.0.” Compared to other initiatives, the organisational form of the Alliance clearly stands out as superior. “This is precisely what will make it successful,” declares Hummel with great certainty. On the one hand, “open” means that every member has equal rights. And on the other, it commits all members to the principle of “one.” This means that everyone contributes their expertise and technologies in such a way that, in the end, the customer is king. They can always be sure of getting the most reliable and scalable overall solution.