Festo Motion Terminal – breakthrough innovation for digitalized pneumatics
By Rehana Begg
With the Festo Motion Terminal, Festo has achieved a technological breakthrough by merging hardware and software to produce a digital valve. Over a three-year development period not only an intelligent pneumatic automation platform for Industry 4.0 was created, but in fact an entirely new solution space for the manufacture of products for the future that we cannot even conceive of today.
A revolution in pneumatics
A wide variety of valve functions can now be programmed and addressed via apps. The Festo Motion Terminal combines the functions of over 50 individual components: this greatly simplifies the engineering process and enables numerous hardware components to be dispensed with. Machinery and plant manufacturers can benefit from entirely new designs for platforms and modules, and plant operators can gain a competitive advantage thanks to flexible and adaptive systems, data transparency, communication ability, extreme process reliability and simpler operation of complex machinery. Alfred Goll, Spokesman of the Management Board of Festo AG, says: “We have created an automation platform that integrates all functions, so that adaptive and flexible production is made economically feasible – and we have revolutionised pneumatics in the process!”
Project manager Dr. Julia Duwe, Head of Future Motion Solutions Management, explains: “In technological terms, this entirely new platform combines mechanics, electronics, control engineering and software. With a choice of various motion apps, clients have the possibility of both registering the condition of their systems in real time and of modifying their functions, thereby flexibly adapting to the demands of their customers. The Festo Motion Terminal ensures consistent process quality and transparency in the construction and operation of production plants, provides flexibility throughout the machinery life cycle and reduces costs arising from faults.”
Increasing speed, simplifying modifications, reducing complexity
When a system is to be adapted to customer wishes, with the programmable platform the mechanical engineer no longer needs to carry out intricate hardware modifications for a large number of individual components – this cuts delivery times. New functions are rapidly and intuitively programmed on the Festo Motion Terminal. The software functionality also allows the engineer to offer additional services and new business models. The integrated sensors supply operational data in real time and give insights into the internal processes of the system. The virtual production documentation issues warnings in cases of critical wear or divergent parameters. Disturbances in the complex processes are made visible and readily comprehensible. The digitalised functionality is invisibly programmed and protected in a “black box”, rather than being exposed in visible hardware elements – this ensures a high degree of protection for intellectual property.
Focus on user-friendliness
In the development of the software, great importance was attached to user-friendliness. The user can directly access the device via Internet technology. The various motion apps can be configured either using the browser or in the customary way via machine control. Modifications to production orders can be programmed by app during regular operation without the need for reconfiguration. Variable process and cycle times allow flexible production down to lot size 1, for instance for filling packages of different sizes in the one system.
Efficient and sustainable
Apps for the energy-efficient operation of pneumatic applications significantly reduce energy consumption, and depending on application the piezo valves also bring about energy savings of up to 99 per cent in comparison with conventional solenoid valves. A diagnosis app is also provided for the location of leakages. Savings in compressed air consumption of up to 70 per cent are likewise possible as compared with standard operation. Thanks to its programmability the functions of the Festo Motion Terminal can be extended even after purchase, and production facilities remain state-of-the-art at all times. This ensures longer system lifetimes.
The Festo Motion Terminal is a door-opener and enabler for companies that now want to make their production fit for Industry 4.0. Festo has established two entirely new dedicated assembly lines to accommodate the expected high demand for this product.