Digital twin: Balluff delivers AutomationML format as a central product information source, powered by CADENAS

Industrial manufacturer now provides digital product information to support effective manufacturing automation & virtual commissioning

Balluff has set itself the goal of providing its customers with all relevant product information in digital form. In a first step, the digital product data for Balluff sensors in the Electronic Product Catalog powered by CADENAS have been enriched with IO device descriptions (IODD), CAE data in EPLAN format and rendering information, as well as the operating manuals in English and German. In addition, the information in Automation Markup Language (AML) files is available for free download, thus taking the company an important step towards the digital twin. "For us, as a sensor manufacturer, it is our goal to provide all information relevant for the customer (AutomationML user) in digital form. The AutomationML format is the means of choice for this. As an industry-wide standard, it can represent the digital twin of a product throughout its entire life cycle. The inclusion of IODD, operating instructions and EPLAN data is a first step. However, continuous expansion is planned in order to achieve the above-mentioned goal," says Balluff team leader (Head of Digital Information Management) Florian Kröner.

IODD data from Balluff available for the first time in AutomationML exchange format

In order to enable the use of Balluff products in production automation and virtual commissioning, IODD (IO device description) information on Balluff components has been integrated in the product catalog and in the exchange format AutomationML in close cooperation with the software manufacturer CADENAS. This means that engineers, designers and electrical engineers can now access additional information from the Balluff sensors on identification, device parameters, process and diagnostic data, communication properties and the structure of the user interface in engineering tools for their product development.

Balluff, one of the leading suppliers of high-quality sensor, identification and network solutions and software for integrated system solutions in automation, is thus the first CADENAS customer with integrated IO device descriptions. "Our long-standing customer Balluff has given the starting signal for the digital twin by enriching its products with important component information, such as IODD, CAE and EPLAN data. In this way, Balluff offers its customers not only first-class components, but also first-class digital implementation," emphasizes Jürgen Heimbach, Managing Director of CADENAS GmbH.

EPLAN data from Balluff sensors enable automation in electrical engineering

In addition to the new IO device descriptions, Balluff has also included EPLAN data (eCAD Data) in its electronic product catalog and AML files, thus responding to the growing customer demand for electrical engineering component information. This includes sensor data such as function tables, schematic representations as ready-to-use macros, technical product information, product images, as well as links to technical data sheets and the Balluff website. "The cooperation with CADENAS as CAE data producer and data manager brings us excellent data quality and successful data publishing on several web-based platforms. Well thought-out processes enable our customers to receive CAE data usually within 24 hours of the request," says Anatol Kligermann, Digital Sales, Balluff GmbH.

Digital twins also available optically by rendering Balluff sensors

Based on the comprehensive 3D engineering data of the sensors, digital images of Balluff products can be produced quickly and easily by rendering directly from the Electronic Product Catalog - another decisive step towards digitisation and digital twin. The razor-sharp rendered images are made possible by an interface from the Electronic Product Catalog to the Maxwell Renderer software. Just like in a professional photo studio, light sources can be defined and placed as desired. Product images, based on a digital twin, thus save both material and working time. In addition, the high costs for a professional photographer are eliminated and further possibilities of use for the already existing images are opened up, which leads to savings of several thousand Euros in total.

One data flow - many applications

Balluff uses its Product Information Management System as a central data source for the creation processes; this enables all types of data to be made available quickly and easily and helps to cover data updates for the product catalog with a data export. The data is thus consistent and can be updated quickly. This process saves a lot of time, minimizes errors and is easily scalable for a wide variety of use cases.

Balluff's Electronic Product Catalog serves as a central platform for managing all product information: Designers, engineers and electrical engineers have three different ways to obtain Balluff product data (Balluff website, product catalog based on CADENAS technology and EPLAN Portal). The AML files are to play a central role here, so that customers really do get all the digitized product data at the click of a mouse. In close cooperation, Balluff plans to provide further product data, such as data sheets, simulation data etc. in AML format as well as data from sensors in ZUKEN E3.series format in the near future.

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