According to the 2020 Digi Index report, manufacturers are realizing the benefits of digitization . However, survey results from the Food & Beverages, Chemistry & Pharmacy, Automotive and Machinery industries indicate that this awareness does not translate sufficiently into investment. Many entrepreneurs have doubts or lack of proper knowledge about Industry 4.0 solutions. In order to illustrate how efficiently a company can operate using innovative tools, Balluff sp. z o.o. created a technological demonstrator – Smart Factory.

Even at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, 25.5% of entrepreneurs declared that technologies compliant with the Industry 4.0 concept were part of their company strategy[1]. 64.4% of respondents cited improved production efficiency/less downtime (influenced by digitization) as an element that will greatly or very greatly impact their company’s success over the next 3 years. 30.1% directly cited the implementation of digital technology solutions in manufacturing as an important factor in this area.

In order to help in the implementation of innovative solutions and state-of-the-art technologies of Industry 4.0, Level 4.0 – Digital Innovating Hub was established with the support of the Ministry of Development. One of its elements is a demonstration production line located at Balluff’s headquarters. It is a collection of technologies that make up the most modern production lines in the world[2].

A wealth of innovative solutions

The demonstration line contains a slice of the real production process creating central heating system components. The aim of the work station is to produce finished products in the shortest possible time, while maintaining the maximum value of the OEE index and zero downtime. To achieve this, the line is equipped with technologies such as RFID, Machine Vision, IIoT, and Machine Learning.

Machine Learning

(machine learning), or Data Science solutions are increasingly finding their way into production processes. This technology can provide predictive maintenance for equipment.

In the demonstration line the control system sends production data to the superior unit, which, using algorithms, makes an analysis and selects optimal production parameters. In order to ensure the continuity of equipment operation, the line has been equipped with a network of Balluff sensors which monitor critical parameters for the process, such as engine temperature, load or vibrations of individual parts. The purpose of the sensors is to continuously monitor the site. The occurrence of parameters that could lead to a failure is automatically reported. This allows you to react even before a condition threatens to damage the system.

Machine Vision

(vision systems) are standard in the most modern production lines worldwide. The range of devices available on the market is wide and allows you to choose a solution depending on the complexity of the task. Computer image analysis can have a very wide scope – concern the geometry of the tested object, detection of its defects, dimensional control, evaluation of color, structure or other physical characteristics of manufactured elements.

The Level 4.0 demonstration installation was equipped with two multi-camera vision systems from Balluff. They are a source of information for robots installed on the production line. They analyse the presence of the components picked up by the robots and send their coordinates so that the production process runs smoothly even if the positions of the parts to be assembled change.

RFID systems

They help with the flow of information. They can automatically and effectively identify and track specific objects. Marking of products with RFID data carriers as well as traceability and track and trace control of product flow is another element of Smart Factory. It uses RFID antenna BIS0133 connected to the processor BIS V. This processor is a 4-in-1 solution – besides 13.56MHz it also supports 125kHZ, 433kHz and UHF (860MHz). Two frequencies have been included in the demonstration line, which in addition to their dimensions differ in data read/write speed.

Balluff Condition Monitoring (BCM)

It enables faster and simpler detection of changes and anomalies, thereby preventing inconvenient, costly failures. It allows you to reduce downtime and control the quality of production, which increases efficiency and avoids unnecessary costs.

The solution for continuous condition monitoring of machinery and equipment is based on the BCM sensor. The Balluff Condition Monitoring sensor used in the demonstrator is a sensor that enables the measurement and analysis of changes in vibration levels in three axes with the option to analyse the speed or acceleration of vibration, the measurement of contact temperature and – in one of the sensor versions – the measurement of ambient pressure and relative humidity.

The issue of condition monitoring should be looked at not only from the perspective of monitoring the condition of executive devices used in machines or production lines, but also from the perspective of the condition of sensors themselves, which are used for measurements and analyses. Many so-called smart sensors provide information on internal temperature, hours worked, signal quality, sensor location or vibration. The communication of so much information in a simple way and the easy adaptation of e.g. a BCM sensor to the application requirements is made possible by the IO-Link interface and communication standard. The BCM sensor includes predefined data profiles as well as ISO-compliant machine profiles and alarm levels.

Increase competitiveness

Digitalization and automation of production are some of the most important challenges for entrepreneurs. They become not a choice but a necessity. These processes help not only to increase competitiveness, but also to make the company more resilient to market fluctuations and subsequent crises.

The opportunity to use Smart Factory, a demonstration production line, will allow to get acquainted with the practical application of modern technologies in various scenarios, industries and business models. Within the training courses and workshops offered by Level 4.0, the interested persons may benefit from free support of experts who have a track record of successful implementations in companies from various sectors.

Explore the possibilities of Smart Factory and increase the competitiveness of your company.

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[1] Smart Industry Polska. Portret C-level, czyli kto zarządza polskim przemysłem. Raport z badań, patrz:,  dostęp [15.04.2021], s. 55.

[2] Ibidem, s. 51.