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Making machine automation easier

08 November 2017

Lenze turns 70 – and celebrates with a ‘Future Day of Machine Manufacturing’ and new servo inverter at SPS IPC Drives.

Productivity, reliability, ease-of-use: these three qualities are fundamental, even after 70 years. It was 1947 when Hans Lenze began to realise his dream of setting the world in motion. In the era of Industry 4.0 with the rapid spread of digitisation, those three elements are still key in assessing the quality of machines and production lines. Lenze's 70th anniversary was an opportunity to celebrate. In mid-October, more than 400 industry experts and journalists from all over the world came together at the company’s German headquarters near Hamelin for the Future Day of Machine Manufacturing. Here they were able to take part in creative discussions on trends, challenges and intelligent solutions for modern machine manufacturing. 

What started as a trading company in Hamelin, Germany, has today developed into an international Drive and Automation company. Lenze takes pride in being a real partner to its customers, developing intelligent solutions for the Smart Factory together. To share ideas from the forefront of innovation, Lenze celebrated its 70th anniversary with the “Future Day of Machine Manufacturing”. Subjects debated included most recent automation trends, latest product developments and future ways to make machine building easier. Pre-eminent experts from varied business disciplines talked about digitisation, the IoT and the future challenges as well as the opportunities for machine manufacturing.

A new chapter in automation 

Another reason for Lenze to celebrate is the opening of a new chapter in automation at the 2017 SPS IPC Drives exhibition in Nuremberg. With the launch of its new i950 Servo inverter, Lenze is breaking down the boundaries between controller-based automation and drive-based automation. This contributes to greater flexibility in the design of machine automation topologies. The servo drive adds a new automation platform to Lenze's portfolio which already has products for the control level, the field level and the electromechanics. Designed for the needs of the future, the i950 enables standardised data communication as well as data storage in the cloud. Machine building companies are thus provided with solutions that make it possible to meet all requirements easily, efficiently and with maximum flexibility. 

Lenze has always supported two different automation concepts. Originally Lenze introduced drive-based automation with decentralised intelligence that is distributed in the drive technology. Now there is also controller based automation with centralised intelligence in the PLC. The requirements of the specific project always decide which of the two concepts will be used. But both are increasingly being mixed as a consequence of the modularisation of machines and systems. For example, it makes sense to control certain parts of the production system with a centralised intelligence while other machine modules can be seen as cyber physical systems (CPS) because of their specification and are equipped with their own distributed intelligence. 

The new i950 servo inverter integrates into controller-based automation platforms and allows the machine manufacturer to use standardised technology modules. An example is the Lenze FAST Application Software with pre-configured motion functions; alternatively the machine manufacturer can use his own software if it is programmed in IEC61131-3. This gives decisive advantages in the time to market because it saves valuable development time. 

Ready for the Internet of Things 

The further development of automation solutions is inextricably linked to cloud computing. Data from machines and systems is collected in the cloud, analysed there and then linked to other information when necessary. Connectivity to the cloud will become a standard feature of the field level in the next few years. This is why Lenze consistently relies on standardised protocols such as OPC UA or the MQTT standard in its automation portfolio, in order to guarantee that its components are futureproof even in the age of cloud computing. 

Working in collaboration with the providers of cloud infrastructures, Lenze is already creating the fundamental basis for generating information – or, even better, knowledge – from data and thereby increasing the productivity and reliability of customers’ machines and systems. 

Hardware and software with services 

Lenze’s roots are in the business of drive technology. The company has used its knowledge in motion as a foundation for a complete automation portfolio. This portfolio goes beyond hardware and software with advice to customers and the provision of engineering services to create a complete automation solution including functional machine safety. As an innovative partner, Lenze now talks to its customers more about machine processes than about its own products. 

The breadth of the portfolio means that different solutions can be evaluated to match machine requirements. All the solutions are based on the same architecture, use the same engineering tools and suit the FAST modules. This makes it possible for OEMs to develop their machines with less expense and a high degree of future security. Easy evaluation of alternative pre-prepared solutions gives the machine manufacturer reduced overheads and more time to spend on their own special concepts. 

Summary 

Lenze’s platform offers a complete and uniform system that meets all the requirements of modern automation. It extends from the control level to the sensors/actuators level, combines the concept of centralised intelligence with that of decentralised intelligence, and it also ensures that the connection to cloud applications is possible using common standards. This platform offers an easy, efficient access for machine manufacturers who have to bring highly flexible, intelligent, and individually tailored machines to market as quickly as possible. It also ensures that the acquired expertise is a safe investment in the future. 

Lenze is launching the i950 Servo inverter together with matching hardware, software and services at the SPS IPC Drives exhibition in Nuremberg. You can visit them at stand 1-360, free tickets are available through the Lenze.com website.


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