HARTING Technology Group Aims to Expand Industry 4.0 & IoT Reach in 2018

  • March 06, 2018
  • HARTING Inc. of North America
  • Harting Inc. Of North America
  • Feature
HARTING Technology Group Aims to Expand Industry 4.0 & IoT Reach in 2018
HARTING Technology Group Aims to Expand Industry 4.0 & IoT Reach in 2018

By Bill Lydon, Editor, Automation.com

HARTING has long been one of the primary names in connectors, having served the industry since 1945. More recently, however, HARTING has been expanding into edge computing for Industry 4.0 and IoT applications.   I had the opportunity to learn about these new developments in early February, as I visited the headquarters of the HARTING Technology Group to and toured the company’s nearly-completed new European Distribution Center (EDC) logistics center.  With 13 production plants, and branches in 43 countries, HARTING produces retail checkout systems, electromagnetic actuators for automotive and industrial series use, charging technology and cabling for electric vehicles, as well as hardware and software for customers and applications in automation technology, robotics and transportation engineering. From these discussions, it is clear that 2018 for HARTING will see an enhanced focus on digitalization, education and edge computing.

HARTING European Distribution Center (EDC) logistics center building.


Inside HARTING's European Distribution Center (EDC)

The goal of the new distribution centre is further improving delivery performance and creating a foundation to increase company growth. "Once everything is up and running, goods should leave our distribution centre in the direction of our European customers the same day an order is placed," says Achim Meyer, Managing Director of HARTING Logistics, who is spearheading the €40 million project .

The high-bay warehouse will provide space for 6,900 pallets and around 120,000 storage containers in an area of 4,500 square meters and is operated in fully automated, paperless fashion. The bulk of material movements between the halls will take place via driverless transport systems. The picking area covers approximately 6,500 square meters. In the future, some 20,000 customer order items will be picked and packed individually here in accordance with customer requirements. 10,000 parcels on up to 110 trucks and vans will leave the European Distribution Center (EDC) as "safe air freight" or by sea and land to provide customers with products in the shortest possible time.

HARTING is also focusing on digitization at the EDC. "The goods pass completely paperless through the distribution centre via barcode and RFID. To ensure that this can be done with the least amount of resources, energy and machine data are recorded with the HARTING MICA (Edge Computers), analyzed and used to control processes and for preventive maintenance. This enable us to achieve minimum downtimes," says Meyer.

This is an energy efficient facility that taking advantage of Geothermal energy with some 36 holes drilled for the geothermal facility, with each hole drilled to a depth of 150 meters.

Achim Meyer (left), Managing Director of HARTING Logistics, Sven Düker, Project Manager Construction in the Facility Management area at HARTING guided the tour and explained the EDC construction progress.


Enhancing Education in China

HARTING is a founding member of the Robotation Academy Foshan, which opened its doors in October of last year. The opening ceremony was held together with the opening of the third ‘Internet + Exhibition Powered by CEBIT'  vopened at the Guangdong Tanzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center. A total of 656 intelligent manufacturing and Internet Plus enterprises from around the world attended the event.   Twenty major projects will be implemented in Foshan, adding more momentum to the city’s drive toward a national-level manufacturing innovation center.   The Robotation Academy will bring together 21 partner companies in the fields of robotics, automation and Industrie 4.0. The Academy has set its focus on providing trainings, conferences, and presentations on future technology trends for companies in the Guangdong region.

Located at Guangdong Tanzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center (GICEC), the Robotation Academy Foshan was brand licensed by the umbrella organization Deutsche Messe Technology Academy (DMTAG) in Hannover. Therefore, the Robotation Academy Foshan is jointly operated by GICEC and DMTAG.

 “The academy is a great platform for HARTING’s employees and customers to implement technological theory into practice”, Ellen McMillan, General Manager, HARTING Greater China, stated out. “The partnership with the Robotation Academy in Foshan will give HARTING an opportunity to enrich the knowledge and technologies of smart manufacturing in South China, a key region for HARTING.”

The Robotation Academy is located at Guangdong Tanzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center (GICEC).


A Continued Push for Edge Computing

HARTING has long honed its focus on edge computing, in large part through its MICA edge computing device. Entering the new year, this device continues to expand in power and interfaces.  In addition, HARTING is developing connectors with edge computing built-in.


The MICA Update

The HARTING MICA (Modular Industry Computing Architecture) continues to expand, with the goal of serving the growing need to achieve more responsive and leaner systems.  The HARTING MICA is an open and modular computing platform, which was awarded with the 13th annual HERMES AWARD at the 2016 Hannover Fair Opening Ceremony in April.  I spoke with Lasse-Pekka Thiem, HARTING Senior System Architect, who provided an update on some of the latest MICA capabilities, noting updates such as:


MICA P2 Processor Module

  • Dual core 1.3 GHz ARM processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 16 GB eMMC

Note: The term eMMC is short for "embedded Multi-Media Controller" and refers to a package consisting of both flash memory and a flash memory controller integrated on the same silicon die.


MICA Wireless

  • GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite System (GPS, Galileo, Glonass) [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_navigation]
  • WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • WPA/WPA2 Enterprise (security protocols/ security certification programs)
  • Bluetooth Low Energy [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth_Low_Energy]
  • GSM: 2G/3G/4G [(Global System for Mobile Communications]

HARTING's virtual industry computing technology aims to enable multiple programs to run in parallel within virtual containers. These containers run in individual sandboxes; isolating and securing the different components and applications from each other.

MICA measures 13 x 8 x 3.5 cm and is IP67 rated.


Building the MICA.network

In addition to the product itself, HARTING continues to foster an ecosystem of developers with the MICA.network, the user community which supports the MICA platform. MICA.network partners develop concepts and solutions which help companies actively shape the fourth industrial revolution: the digitization and networking of processes and objects.

At the 2018 Hannover Fair, in conjunction with partners from the MICA.Network and Swiss automobile manufacturer Rinspeed, HARTING will show how partnerships can create added values for the customer. Currently, 24 partner companies cooperate in the MICA.Network and present some 29 use cases for various applications in the area of Industry 4.0.


Bill’s Thoughts & Observations

In my visit to the HARTING headquarters, I learned a great deal in talking with employees and gained insights into just how this traditional company is embracing the new concepts and technologies of Industrie 4.0 and Internet of Things, in order to create innovative yet necessary products for real-world applications. It will be fascinating to see how they move forward in the new year.

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