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Smart pneumatic grid

21 November 2017

Aventics and Boge Kompressoren have intelligently networked compressed air generators and compressed air consumers with their joint project, the Smart Pneumatic Grid.

In automation, horizontal and vertical networking to the Internet of Things is currently the most discussed topic. Many offers include comprehensive IT solutions that require a great amount of effort to implement. However, most manufacturers only want to gradually introduce vertical networking to gain experience and verify its efficiency. “Users look for solutions that are easy to implement, that help them cut operating costs, and increase the availability of their machines,” said Wolf Gerecke, responsible for strategic product management at Aventics.

This is where the Smart Pneumatics Grid, developed in collaboration between Boge Kompressoren and Aventics, comes into play. The Smart Pneumatics Grid is based on the machine-to-machine communication protocol OPC UA, which is accepted across manufacturers. Intelligently networking compressed air generators and compressed air consumers unlocks a variety of potentials for monitoring, controlling, and optimising entire system topologies.

“By knowing the current and upcoming air consumption, we can optimize control of the compressor performance, allowing users to significantly decrease energy consumption,” explained Peter Boldt, head of research and development at Boge.

The Smart Pneumatic Grid identifies the energy need down to the individual consumer level and visualizes it clearly. With minimal effort, this information can be used to derive needs-based control rules for the Boge compressors. The Smart Pneumatic Grid also indicates an increase in air consumption that is, a leak, specific to the consumer. “As a result, maintenance can act in good time before a machine standstill can even occur,” reinforced Gerecke.

The OPC UA communication protocol is currently the top standard for horizontal and vertical networking in the automation sector. It transfers data and statuses from devices to other components, machines, or superior instances, independent of fieldbus communication with the control.