The woodworking industry is fine-tuning "Izy".
Increasing automation in production entails one thing: The complexity of connecting machines to each other or to higher-level software solutions such as ERP systems or production management systems is growing exponentially. For the user, the whole thing is increasingly becoming an unsolvable task - or one for which a lot of money has to be invested. For new projects, the user, machine manufacturer and software producer often sit together weeks in advance to develop a functional solution.
In 2018, there was an initial push in the woodworking sector to remedy this situation: The OPC UA project was initiated. The aim here is to define uniform interfaces across manufacturers. In the end, machines from different manufacturers can be integrated "plug and play" into a machine park and still directly use all the digital possibilities of the new technologies. This project quickly spread far and wide and ultimately became a European project in which major Italian manufacturers and the umbrella organizations Acimall and Eumabois also got involved.
Now the industry is one step further. With OPC UA, not only is a European standard being worked on, but also a special Woodworking Companion Specification. The machine manufacturers Biesse, Bürkle, Homag, Ima Schelling, SCM, Weber and Weinig have joined forces for this. Put simply: OPC UA describes the grammar, the Woodworking Companion Specification is then the language with which machines in the woodworking industry communicate with each other. For this "language", a total of 11 requirements were determined by the project partners, which are now being standardized accordingly. In order to move forward as quickly as possible, the first four requirements (identification of machines from different manufacturers, overview of machine status, overview of machine messages, and provision of information for KPI calculations) have been started and already implemented. The whole thing is called "Izy" and even the name already conveys the claim to simplify things.
During the "Ligna.Innovation Network" at the end of September, the project partners provided comprehensive information about "Izy" for the first time. The first version, i.e. "Izy 1.0", an open software, is meanwhile available via the OPC UA Foundation or also the VDMA. Of course, the work of the European working group continues, after all, the seven other defined requirements still have to be implemented. In addition, there is now also cooperation with Umati, a community of the mechanical and plant engineering industry and its customers for the dissemination and use of open interface standards based on OPC UA. Umati has so far been active primarily in the metalworking sector - and is delighted to be joining forces with the woodworking industry. Because in the end, only one thing counts: that customers have it as easy as possible when installing new machines. And the more industries that work on the same basis, the more likely it is that woodworking machines will be up and running and digitally connected in production just as quickly as robots or machine tools, for example.