What is Cyber-Physical Systems?

The building blocks of industry 4.0

Cyber-physical systems form the basis of Industry 4.0. To say it better, Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are building blocks in Industry 4.0 on one hand and part of the Industry 4.0 vision on the other.

Cyber-physical systems are combinations of intelligent physical components, objects and systems with embedded computing and storage possibilities, which get connected through networks and are the enablers of the smart factory concept of Industry 4.0 in an Internet of Things, Data and Services scope, with a focus on processes.

Simply put, as the term indicates, cyber-physical systems refers to the bridging of digital (cyber) and physical in an industrial context. They use modern control systems, have embedded software systems and dispose of an Internet address to connect and be addressed via IoT (the Internet of Things).

The challenges of Cyber-Physical Systems for Zero-Defect Manufacturing

Defect management policies commonly adopted in manufacturing systems are scrapping and off-line reworking of defective items. The application of these expensive and low added-value alternatives is mainly due to the late identification of the defect in multi-stage systems, typically based on end-of-line inspection. At the state of the art, rework takes place mainly manually and off-line, i.e. at considerable cost and time as it is technically challenging and expensive to disassemble and repair or reuse components from defective products. On the contrary, when in-line monitoring and inspection is adopted, especially for high-value parts, defects can be detected in line and requalification or reuse practices can potentially be activated with lower complexity and higher efficiency.

In spite of the recent developments, methods to systematically apply these strategies for reuse-requalify defective parts in complex manufacturing environments, are not available in the market. The main challenges in these applications relate to (1) the characterization of part variation modes and defect types and degree in complex shaped micro-parts, (2) the high value of parts calling for small inventory, (3) the gap in operator skills in adopting new CPS driven defect management strategies, (4) the high risk perceived by end-users in making this transition. Demonstrating that optimized defect management and reduction solutions based on CPS can significantly improve the quality and reusability of components and materials will therefore contribute to open a totally new wave of high-tech applications, boosting the market of CPS-based solutions for zero defect manufacturing in the European industry.

So, what is DAT4.Zero doing with CPS?

CPSs can make it possible to convert an otherwise wasted component into a regenerated and reusable product for manufacturing a new part or to be used as a spare part in the aftermarket business. In particular, CPS systems combine supervisory systems capable of optimizing the process parameters based on the knowledge of the complete line and with smart actuators/sensors that can measure and compensate in real time at machine level specific deviations. These smart controllers use the model of the machine for improving the stability and response quality. In combination with the local monitoring, enhanced controllers for improving the performance of the machine tool can compensate the deviations before they affect the quality of the part.

Therefore, the integration of physical information and cyber intelligence will improve the quality and the productivity to avoid defects, waste and pursue a sustainable production.