The new Technology Roadmap "Process Sensors 4.0"

Sensors are the sense organs of process automation. A good process guidance at the basis of reliable process automation protects the global competitive advantage. The former technology roadmaps “ Process Sensors 2005–2015” (2006) and “Process Sensors 2015+” (2009) generated principles for all companies in the process industry to target on customer needs of the process industry, tailored product developments, technological developments, and research projects and bring it to success.

Process instrumentation and analytics is an "enabling technology" in two respects and, therefore, is a key to long-term and sustainable preservation of location advantages: On the one hand it enables the manufacturing industry a safe, available, and efficient production of internationally competitive products. On the other hand it offers an increasingly differentiated measurement instrumentation technology sector the possibility of production of technical know-how in the form of measuring and control technology for a worldwide export.

At present there are serious changes in the environment of the information and communication technology, which offer a great opportunity for the optimised process control and value added production with dedicated network communicating sensors. This kind of "smart" sensors provide services within a network and use information from it. This is a prerequisite for the realisation of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) within future automation concepts for the process industry, as also addressed by the future project "Industrie 4.0".

Initiated by NAMUR and VDI/GMA and in collaboration with the companies ABB, BASF, Bayer Technology Services, Bilfinger Maintenance, Endress+Hauser, Evonik, Festo, Krohne, Lanxess, Siemens, the Fraunhofer ICT, Reutlingen University, and BAM (project management) an updated and revised technology roadmap „Process Sensors 2015+“ was recently created. It will be published on November 5th, 2015 on NAMUR Annual General Meeting in Bad Neuenahr/Germany and posted on this site.

The technology roadmap "Process Sensors 4.0" identifies the necessary requirements as well as the communication abilities of such process sensors – from a simple temperature sensor up to current technologies, which are in development. Important smart features include

  • connectivity and communication ability according to a unified protocol
  • maintenance and operating functions
  • traceability and compliance
  • virtual description to support a continuous engineering
  • interaction capability

These smart functions of sensors simplify their use and enable plug-and-play, even though they are more complex. This is particularly important for, self-diagnostics, self-calibration and self-configuration/parameterisation.

The departure from current automation to smart sensor has already begun. Further development is based on the actual situation over several steps. Possible perspectives will be via additional communication channels to mobile devices, bidirectional communication, integration of the cloud and virtualization.

Smart process sensors enable new business models for users, device manufacturers, and service providers.