Date:
19. December 2022
Reading time: minutes

New technologies - new possibilities: AAS (Asset Administration Shell)

Precisely fitting Industry 4.0 components - this is generally ensured by the Asset Administration Shell (AAS). AAS plays an essential role when it comes to connecting real production objects with virtual assets and processes in a cyber-physical system.

What does AAS mean, what advantages does the technology bring, how has ADAMOS integrated AAS, how can it all be put into practice and furthermore, are there reference examples of how AAS can be successfully used by companies within the ADAMOS ecosystem?

ADAMOS AAS Verwaltungsschale

Digitalization and its consequences - AAS opens up exciting new business models!

Digitalization is causing major changes in the industry. The classic automation pyramid, in which the various levels of industrial manufacturing are represented, is dissolving and transforming into a network of digital services and data suppliers.

 

As a result, it is no longer clear which subsystems interact in which way - so this offers new opportunities. MES manufacturers have already recognized this at an early stage and converted their systems accordingly to modular functional components and open interfaces.

The vision of connecting everything individually requires the digitalization of assets and, as a result, greater intelligence and adaptability of all the assets involved. This entails generating relevant data volumes from various sources, which are collected in a "secured, digital container" - the result is a virtual image of the real asset. In order to enable data communication and adaptability, it is furthermorenecessary to establish standards at different levels. The asset administration shell (AAS) is a suitable mechanism for this.

"An administrative shell is a virtual, digital and active representation of an I4.0 component in the I4.0 system."

The usage and establishment of the administration shell opens up new, flexible business models and dynamic channels of communication. Especially the machine and component manufacturers are increasingly using the AAS technologies to standardize digital solutions in the new service & data networks and to extend their own digital portfolio or to integrate it into another one.

Definition: The AAS technology

Asset Administration Shell (AAS) is a model for the standardized exchange of data (German: Industrie 4.0 "Verwaltungsschale" (VWS)). It is the organizational implementation of the "digital twin" in the industrial context – so to speak: a uniform plug for all digital information of a physical assets or processes from the real world. Both terms (AAS and VWS) are used synonymously. The AAS is considered a central element for implementing Industry 4.0 applications in industry. The practical implementation of the AAS with all its submodels is being worked on by the Industrial Twin Association (IDTA), which emerged from a working group of the Industry 4.0 platform.

 

The principle of the asset administration shell

Added value due to new, smart products and digital solutions

Hardware manufacturers are already equipping their products with standardized "smart" interfaces to enable value-added services. Ideally, they offer customers all relevant digital services (such as condition monitoring or solutions for predictive maintenance) directly themselves. By this, the traditional division between manufacturer, integrator and end customer is dissolving.

However, the success of such digital solutions depends heavily on the ability to tap into the new dynamic channels and to use them flexibly. The more the participants in these service & data networks adapt to this and standardize, the more promising it will be to expand a portfolio of offerings and efficiently integrate partners.

The "Digital nameplate"

The Digital Nameplate 4.0 is the basic module for the digitalization of production. It reduces complexity and saves costs. What does it mean? A digital nameplate translates the physical nameplate for digital services and contains absolute basic data of specific assets, such as machines or components. Assets and their associated data can be uniquely identified by being programmatically assigned via the digital nameplate and its specifically assigned asset ID.

A key objective of digital nameplates is to make statutory device identifications available in electronically readable form. In the long term, classic nameplates are to be replaced by electronic labeling. In addition, there is a need to provide further device information. The data from the nameplate can be easily read via a QR code or RFID.

Advantages of using digital nameplates to share and manage information include:

  • They make individual assets uniquely identifiable
  • They are more standardized and scalable (as manufacturer-independent, mechanism for registering assets in an asset management model)
  • It allows instant access to up-to-date documents or replaces paper documentation. (No more errors due to manual typing of information).
  • The essential information can be integrated promptly and in a standardized manner in the relevant sub-processes of product development as required, independent of the manufacturer (development, operation, service, sales).

The challenges of component manufacturers and the "AAS" solution

Component manufacturers face the particular challenge of needing a mechanism that allows them to link the smart components in operation with the data for the operator. As suppliers to machine builders, component manufacturers usually only have an indirect channel to the machine operator where the component is in operation. A linking channel and mechanism must therefore be available for offering a digital value-added service.

Via the Digital Nameplate, component manufacturers can implement a standardized information model for their physical components. The model can be utilized directly by participants in the service & data network (for example, by other component manufacturers, machine builders, system integrators, service providers and manufacturing companies).

Integration of AAS at ADAMOS & reference case

For ADAMOS the asset administration shell has great relevance for the realization of new, flexible business models. Therefore interfaces have been implemented accordingly. The first and simplest use case enables the integration of the "digital nameplate" and thus the use of its information in various digital solutions.

By scanning a QR code from the physical nameplate, a machine operator can map his machine and components in a standardized way in the ADAMOS Machine Book. The relevant information is imported via AAS from the manufacturers' cloud. This provides an easy and quick solution to link components to machines, for example.

If the machine operator uses the app of a component manufacturer, the app receives the needed information from ADAMOS about the registered component (in particular a unique ID and the assigned machine).*

(*A prior approval of data exchange from the operator for the respective application is required.)

With the unique ID of the registered component, the component manufacturer can offer its value-added service specific to that component, such as:

  • documentation
  • related catalog information  
  • software updates
  • runtime information for "condition monitoring
  • analysis results from runtime information for "predictive maintenance"

 

Use case: Kübler Group

Registration of individual components via the digital nameplate in the ADAMOS Machine Book for documentation and linking of the spare part catalog. Within the Kübler Group use case, the described use of the digital nameplate was implemented and presented at the SPS trade fair 2022.

The QR code on components, such as rotary encoders, is scanned throguh which their unique asset ID and the associated information is imported into the ADAMOS Machine Book via AAS. The master data is automatically extracted from the AAS and registered directly with the corresponding machines. The master data for the components is thus stored digitally and centrally with a unique asset ID. Based on this, Kübler can now provide the customer with further information about the component, such as digital manuals. The component identification can also be used by other apps from the ADAMOS ecosystem. Digital services such as service information, spare parts information or solutions such as condition monitoring and analysis services can now be used or offered by Kübler or a third party specifically for this component.

Advantages for component manufacturers and machine operators

  • For component manufacturers, a standardized link to the Machine Book from ADAMOS means integrating components into the digital shopfloors and the possibility to easily offer additional services. The AAS is the mechanism that makes this possible in a standardized and scalable way across all manufacturers. The data can then also be used by other app providers in the ADAMOS STORE.
  • Machine operators can quickly and easily create a comprehensive digital representation of their production and use various digital services availble for components such as documentation, condition monitoring, analysis services, spare parts catalog, web-links from the component manufacturers as well as further services from third-party providers.

Win-win-win situations for all involved: ADAMOS makes it possible!

ADAMOS combines marketplace and connecting technology for the manufacturing industry and offers a unique user experience of software - a win-win-win for machine builders, component manufacturers and manufacturing companies. For this purpose, the AAS standard is combined with the shop-in-shop concept of ADAMOS:

Machine builders in particular are used to offering their customers a 360-degree portfolio. In the analog world the offering contains machines, components, tools and automation - all from a single source. In terms of the digital world the portfolio must include the corresponding digital solutions for the entire periphery. Offering a comprehensive digital portfolio from one source which is ready to use as soon as the machine is installed allows the machine builder to provide the customer with the highest possible degree of transparency and the guarantee of promises such as the avoidance of unplanned downtime and the reduction of maintenance expenses - in other words, the optimization of invested capital in production.

Based on the AAS technology, machine builders can offer packages of digital solutions from the relevant component suppliers without having to implement individual integrations or new interfaces. And with the shop-in-shop functionality in the ADAMOS STORE, machine builders can offer their own solutions as well as those of their component supplier (branded or as a white-label solution) to their customers "from a single source" in a branded store.

  • A win for the machine builder, as they can integrate the service of different component manufacturers into their own portfolio (while providing the primary customer interface ).
  • A win for the component manufacturer to monetize their domain knowledge via a value-added service.
  • A win for the manufacturing company to use digital services from various vendors with different domain contexts and through that more transparency of their production and the used resources.

 




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