CanvAAS: a common language for machines entering the industry 4.0 era

0ne of the challenges related to industry 4.0 is that machines need to talk to each other. But just like in real life, they don’t speak the same language. CanvAAs, one of EIT Manufacturing’s 2020 projects answers to this challenge.

Why do machines need a common language?

Interoperability, allowing production equipment to exchange seamlessly and exchange data, is a prerequisite for the industry 4.0 transformation and therefore, machines need to know how to speak with each other. EIT Manufacturing’s CanvAAS project aims at overcoming this obstacle by testing and developing an interoperability standard that could be widely adapted by Europe’s industry.

“A common standard would accelerate digitalisation and increase the competitiveness of Europe’s industry”, say Research Engineer Saadia DHOUIB, from CEA, France, in charge of the project.

Testing and launching a common standard

The CanvAAS project was launched to assess and test the so called AAS standard for interoperability, and later making it available for the entire industry through Open Source tools (the Papyrus Systems Engineering tool and the Basyx reference technology platform).

As a next step, the project team will test the solution in real life together with Whirlpool & Festo Didactic in the autumn of 2020. The final deliverable is to provide a guided methodology for training factory staff to deploy the AAS interoperability standard, supported with user-friendly tools to encourage adoption.

The project is the result of a collaboration with six partners; three research organisations: CEA List, Politecnico di Milano and DFKI and three industrial partners: Sherpa Engineering, Festo and Whirlpool.

Why lack of interoperability is an obstacle for industry 4.0

The World Economic Forum cites 67% of respondents refrain from implementing Industry 4.0 because of challenges to connect legacy equipment due to lack of interoperability. Cisco estimates factories worldwide contain 60 million machines, with 90% residing in unconnected silos.

Interoperability of industrial equipment is a key issue of Industry 4.0, a requirement to answer to the challenges of mass customization and flexibility. Asset Administration Shell (AAS) is a promising standard to address interoperability of production assets. Manufacturing companies must grasp the opportunity on AAS as a main enabler for Industry 4.0, but there is a lack today of user-friendly tools with a guided methodology for training workers in factories to deploy common standards and tools.

The CanvAAS project aims developing a methodology, standard and tools to encourage adoption of AAS, which is under standardisation by the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).