Friedrichshafen/Hanover, Germany. Networking and digitalization are driving development in automated operations. The future of industrial technology belongs to systems that are designed to independently capture their surroundings, respond accordingly and cooperate with each other. As a provider of smart mechanical systems, ZF is presenting an over-arching cloud solution at the Hanover Trade Fair and exhibiting the first applications of the ZF Cloud in wind parks and cableways.
"Automated operations" is currently the buzzword in industrial engineering, meaning complete infrastructure systems that can act intelligently and autonomously and ZF is extending its focus on artificial intelligence and cloud-based solutions to industrial technology. “Our diversified product portfolio enables us to transfer solutions from the automotive sector to industrial applications,” said Wilhelm Rehm, Member of the Board of Management responsible for the Industrial Technology Division, at the ZF press conference at this year’s Hanover Trade Fair.
“Digitalization is revolutionizing industrial technology as well as all other sectors,” added Mamatha Chamarthi, ZF's Chief Digital Officer. “We have embraced this challenge and are actively pursuing development in the direction of automated operations. Our networked and smart mechanical systems are opening up completely new business areas for us.”
Comprehensive cloud solution
ZF presented an over-arching cloud solution for a wide range of applications at the Hanover Trade Fair. The ZF Cloud offers the possibility to collect and evaluate data as well as interconnect a large number of functions and individuals. ZF shows what these applications might look like using examples such as wind parks and cableways. “Thanks to our Openmatics telematics platform, ZF has already gained many years of experience in managing large amounts of data. With the ZF Cloud, we are now giving users the opportunity to include external information, store it in a protected area and evaluate it with powerful analytical tools in real time,” explained Dr. Klaus Geißdörfer, Head of ZF's Industrial Technology Division. “The industrial sector is only the beginning for the ZF Cloud.”
To control the access to the data within the Cloud ZF uses blockchain technology. With the Car eWallet, which is also exhibited in Hanover, ZF already has an application based on blockchain technology in its portfolio. This electronic wallet allows cars to automatically pay tolls or parking fees.
Using synergies with automotive applications
ZF benefits from synergies with the automotive sector, especially when it comes to autonomous driving: ZF products help allow cars as well as commercial vehicles to see, think and act. The company demonstrates this in Hanover with the Innovation Tractor, which autonomously hooks up trailers while simultaneously keeping an eye on its surroundings using the “Pedestrian Detection” safety feature. Another exhibition in Hanover is the ZF ProAI platform, which was jointly developed with Nvidia. Thanks to deep-learning technology, the artificial intelligence control system also allows agricultural and construction machinery as well as logistics applications to better understand their environment through rapid processing and interpretation of sensor and camera data. A fleet of individual tractors, for instance, can be transformed into a fully automated harvest management system with self-driving agricultural machinery.