Shop floor marketplace emerges with Industrie 4.0

The shop floor marketplace is becoming a reality with Industrie 4.0 as companies are required to make products quickly and cost-effectively as well as unique products that are tailored to a specific user.

By Francisco Almada-Lobo April 26, 2017

In Industrie 4.0, shop-floor decentralization is a truly compelling requirement. The vision of Industrie 4.0 is production that’s able to meet new needs quickly and cost-effectively at high quality. This requires reducing the cost, changeover time and reliability of making products in small quantities or even one-off. With such a high percentage of unique one-off products, it is virtually impossible to optimize the shop-floor with a centralized approach.

In fact, Industrie 4.0 envisions a marketplace on every shop floor—and possibly in every supply chain. In the marketplace, demand comes from smart materials and products that require transformation steps and smart lines, equipment and tools are the suppliers that can perform the transformation steps. Products will broadcast what they need, and production resources will declare their bid to do the work at a certain price based on their capabilities, performance and availability.

Another term for these smart players in the marketplace is cyber-physical systems (CPS). CPS are objects such as products, materials or carriers with embedded software, Internet of Things (IoT) communication and computing power. Based on their Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), connectivity and computing power, CPS have self-management capabilities. This is already happening. Sensors, actuators, communication, and computing power are so small and affordable that in more and more cases products, materials and carriers can be intelligent.

Manufacturing equipment with those same IoT capabilities are cyber-physical production systems (CPPS). This software enhanced machinery also has its own computing power to leverage a wide range of embedded sensors and actuators. It is the combination of CPS and CPPS that will form marketplaces, and likely trigger significant changes in manufacturing production and control, towards completely decentralized systems.

Users can control, monitor and optimize the shop floor with a manufacturing execution system (MES), which must manage this decentralized environment, even if the MES is physically centralized. The logic in the MES must be able to model and interact smoothly with independent CPS and CPPS objects through IIoT to optimize, guide, track and report on the entire Industry 4.0 operation. In this way, the shop floor marketplace is visible, traceable and managed while the CPS and CPPS actors in it are autonomous.

With Industrie 4.0, companies can have it both ways: a decentralized shop floor that goes through a modern physically centralized MES to provide coherent, in-context information. It’s a fantastic new balance.

Francisco Almada-Lobo is a MESA Member and CEO of Critical Manufacturing. This article originally appeared on MESA International’s blog. MESA International is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media,

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