Talking to each other is not enough – we have to be able to understand each other. This is true for people, for software systems and, now, for things.
A large amount of data is already digitally recorded in all phases of a product's life cycle. But what does this data mean, and how can it be interpreted and correctly “understood” throughout the course of all phases? How can a common understanding be ensured during data transfer?
ECLASS enables the standardized transfer of digital data
ECLASS offers an established solution for 20 years with other industrial use cases. The unique strengths of ECLASS are particularly relevant when used for cross-enterprise process-data management as well as procurement, controlling, production and distribution. But this is true not only for Industry 4.0 applications or Smart Manufacturing – the use of a Digital Twin is already supporting several areas:
One of many goals in digital transformation is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of processes while reducing complexity. This reduces time and costs as quality is improved. However, digitalization should not result in shifting complexity to other areas or an overall increase in complexity. Smart manufacturing applications therefore require, among other things, unique information for M2M communication.
ECLASS provides the semantics for machine-to-machine communication
With the help of the ECLASS standard, products can be clearly described along the entire value chain. The ECLASS standard helps create the required semantic interoperability by turning product data into unique information. In addition to static data, this includes variable process data and information on executable operations. By using ECLASS in machine-to-machine communication, it is possible to understand a data point worldwide, for example, as a temperature with the unit Celsius.
In addition to optimizing basic processes in the construction sector, which requires standardized product descriptions, energy efficiency is a key goal in building automation. Heating and cooling equipment, ventilators, lighting and other electrical devices should be able to adapt automatically to building usage and needs. Achieving this kind of efficiency involves the interaction of several components that exchange data with each other. This, in turn, requires the use of standards for product descriptions and interfaces. ECLASS is an essential standard in the description of interacting devices. It helps controllers clearly identify whether a ventilator or lamp is being addressed, which temperature has been measured in which unit or whether a lamp has already been activated by other processes.
Digitalization is also making its way into our private lives and homes. In order to respond optimally to individual needs while improving energy efficiency, a home’s heating equipment, lighting and other electrical devices communicate with each other across many end devices and control or regulate themselves autonomously. A comprehensive standard is required for these kinds of interaction to ensure that a refrigerator can be identified as such by other devices and that this refrigerator can identify which products are being refrigerated or are missing and should therefore be placed on the shopping list. As a manufacturer and sector-independent standard, ECLASS makes this possible.
Energy transformation and climate protection are two key Smart City issues. As is the case with Smart Building, which addresses commercial or primarily functional buildings, and Smart Homes, which focuses on smart residential units, Smart Cities will be expanded through the use of smart entities and infrastructure that communicate with each other. This includes things such as self-regulating traffic flows and new, electric mobility concepts. Several different entities must be able to communicate with each other and understand each other in order for such concepts to work properly. For example, charging stations must uniformly describe the charging current and connection or plug type for all electric vehicles globally. Only ECLASS, as a manufacturer and sector-independent standard, offers this variety and scope.