ID: 2488

How will the digitalisation of mechanical engineering evolve?

From digital maintenance managers to open networks and platforms

2019: On the threshold of the next decade, Festo looks ten years into the future. How will digitalisation shape industry in the year 2030 and how can a manufacturer of automation technology help its customers to continue to design and operate machines and plants successfully and competitively? Getting started couldn’t be easier: Festo has a host of digital products from which users can already benefit.

“Smartenance, dashboards, Projects … the list of digital solutions offered by Festo is constantly growing, making it easy for machine and plant manufacturers as well as machine operators to get started in the digital world”, explains Dr. Michael Hoffmeister, Digital Business Executive at Festo. The company offers software solutions ranging from engineering, simulation and configuration to plant operation and maintenance along the entire value chain.


The earlier machine and plant manufacturers and operators opt for digital products, the greater the benefits for them. For example, with the Handling Guide Online or other product configurators, machine and plant manufacturers are able to reduce their time to market – for integrated handling systems – by around 70%.


All components in view with Projects and dashboards

”Projects” enables users to coordinate their automation projects with Festo and the components they contain centrally, easily and over the entire product lifecycle. The software provides a quick and clear overview of configuration-specific product data. The components used are arranged intuitively and clearly according to the relationships between the control system, fieldbus and components. Users are notified whenever products change or are updated. The software also facilitates collaboration: “Users can easily invite other participants to collaborate on their project via e-mail”, says Hoffmeister.


From planning to operation – once a plant is in operation, Festo dashboards and the IoT Gateway CPX-IOT can be used to visualise the status of components. Festo dashboards are preconfigured views of a component that present values transmitted via the cloud in a visually appealing and clear way. This involves static device information such as the Product Key as well as dynamic information such as live data or historical data. Plant operators detect irregularities early on and take the right measures before a failure occurs. The turnkey, preconfigured dashboards from Festo do not need any additional programming or software installation. The data is available worldwide and improves operating transparency for production managers and operators.


Smart maintenance manager

Preventive plant maintenance is a time-consuming process which, astonishingly, is for the most part still documented using pen and paper. Smartenance puts an end to all that: this software program from Festo is a digital maintenance manager for production managers and plant operators, available for download as an app. It enables end customers to schedule, monitor and evaluate plant maintenance. A digital maintenance schedule makes maintenance easier, quicker and more reliable. Reciprocal checking by plant operators and production managers provides greater reliability. It eliminates many processes and the need for coordination.


Smartenance is also useful for machine builders. The app allows them to transform the maintenance tasks for every plant directly into a digital solution and offer their customers added value for the plant. Maintenance instructions and the documentation of fault patterns can even be digitally enhanced with images, videos and PDFs. This makes it much easier for team members to work together. Smartenance makes the maintenance task immediately visible for the user, and all the advantages of digital maintenance management can be used as all relevant tasks are available at the press of a button.


Design Thinking for agile working

The digital products are available, but people often fall back on conventional methods of working together. It is therefore important that everyone adapts to changes in the collaborative process and learns new roles. New forms of collaboration such as Design Thinking provide the necessary agility and responsiveness to ever-changing environments.


Design Thinking is more than a process, it is a change in mindset. In daily work, its potential for problem-solving develops into a living culture of innovation. It is not just about design or innovations, but rather solving complex problems. Design Thinking promotes and demands collaborative creativity to solve complex tasks in an integrated and customer-oriented way. It is also about unconventional approaches. Festo Didactic is a competent partner for advanced training solutions in digitalisation and Industry 4.0.


Open and modular

“At Festo, all digitalisation solutions must be open, modular and individual”, says Hoffmeister. This openness and interoperability is also fully in line with Plattform Industrie 4.0, the digitalisation initiative of the Federal Republic of Germany. Since 2018 Festo has – in the person of Festo Board Member Dr. Frank Melzer – held the chair of the platform’s steering committee.


Plattform Industrie 4.0 is the central network in Germany for advancing the digital transformation in production. In an alliance encompassing politics, business, science, the trade unions and other associations, more than 300 players from over 150 organisations are working together actively on the platform. The platform helps medium-sized companies in particular to implement Industry 4.0 by publicising practical examples of Industry 4.0. The network maintains close contact with international platforms such as the Industrial Internet Consortium in North America or with the Asian markets.


Platforms and networks

Platforms and networks are playing an ever-increasing role given their growing emergence as a central intermediary for all kinds of services. The battle for the dominant platform for infrastructure and application has also erupted in the capital goods industry, with Mindsphere, Open Industrie 4.0 Alliance, Predix, Azure, AWS and Bluemix offering new functions and technologies every day. Distributed ledger and blockchain technologies are opening the door for entirely new types of business models. The integration of offerings on the correct industry platforms will therefore be crucial to their success.


Festo offers open and modular solutions here for all key phases of the digital lifecycle of machines and plants. www.getdigitalnow.com provides a tailored overview of digital products and solutions from Festo. The company is a member of the Siemens Mindsphere World and makes its solutions available for Microsoft Azure, Rockwell Factory Talk and other platforms.

Festo is a global player and an independent family-owned company with headquarters in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany. Festo has set standards in industrial automation technology and technical education ever since its establishment, thereby making a contribution to sustainable development of the environment, the economy and society. The company supplies pneumatic and electrical automation technology to 300,000 customers of factory and process automation in over 35 industries. Digitalization, AI and the LifeTech sector with medical technology and laboratory automation are becoming increasingly important. The products and services are available in 176 countries. With about 20,800 employees in over 250 branch offices in around 60 countries worldwide, Festo achieved a turnover of around €3.81 billion in 2022. Each year around 7% of this turnover is invested in research and development. In this learning company, 1.5 % of turnover is invested in basic and further training. Festo Didactic SE is a leading provider of technical education and training and offers its customers worldwide comprehensive digital and physical learning solutions in the industrial environment.

© Festo SE & Co. KG
Smartenance from Festo: digital maintenance management for plant operators, production managers and maintenance technicians, available for download as an app.  
© Festo SE & Co. KG
Plattform Industrie 4.0
Plattform Industrie 4.0, the digitalisation initiative of the Federal Republic of Germany: Since 2018 Festo has – in the person of Chief Technology Officer Dr. Frank Melzer (right) – held the chair of the platform’s steering committee.