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Industry 4.0 comes out of its Shell

03 May 2022

Steve Sands, Head of Product Management at Festo, explains why the unassumingly named Asset Administration Shell is so crucial to delivering the Industry 4.0 vision.

Industry 4.0 is revolutionising manufacturing, opening up a whole world of new opportunities for improved efficiency, cost-saving and collaboration. Remarkable changes are taking place – often behind the scenes – to turn expectations into reality. The name "Asset Administration Shell" (AAS) may not slide easily off the tongue, but it describes an essential tool in realising the Industry 4.0 vision. 

The AAS is the 'digital shell' that wraps around each smart element of a machine, enabling it to explain to the complete machine architecture its function, identity, and a whole host of additional information. It enables assets to be integrated into the world of information. These assets can be machines and their components, supply materials, technical documents (such as wiring diagrams), business documents (such as contracts and purchasing information), and any other information that will help machines and humans to collaborate effectively using common standards, protocols and languages. 

While the cloud, networking and automation devices with internet access can deliver a form of connectivity, the AAS is truly universal, which opens up exciting new possibilities. It enables information to be exchanged between value chain partners and uses neutral and common standards for communication, services and semantics across companies and sectors.

Practical application

So what is so important about the AAS? 

Read the full article in the May issue of DPA

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