Molex introduces Flexible Automation Modules for Industry 4.0

  • July 28, 2021
  • William Payne

Connectivity and industrial automation specialist Molex has introduced Flexible Automation Modules (FAMs) to further the company’s industrial automation solutions. The new modules allow firms to build software-defined machines, robots and production lines to increase operational efficiency.

Conceived as the main building blocks of Molex’s IAS4.0 Industry 4.0 solutions, the FAMs offer configurable connectivity, distributed control and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) apps to speed the development of modular and connected manufacturing machines. 

Pre-certified and custom FAM functionality encompasses distributed control, embedded safety and security, multi-directional communications, provisioning and device management, as well as remote configuration and programming services.

Critical manufacturing data can be collected and shared from sensors or complex devices, as well as between devices, machine-to-machine (M2M) or to edge devices and the cloud. 

According to Molex, its IAS4.0 and FAM solutions are aimed at industrial automation supply chains in the automotive, food & beverage and material handling industries. 

Molex’s IAS4.0 solutions, including software-driven FAM distributed control and embedded functional safety, can reduce overall cabinet requirements.

Future applications of Molex’s advanced industrial automation solutions include the deployment of ruggedised IP67 devices to simplify wiring while improving re-usability and portability; the deployment of advanced sensors, such as motion safety, required for collaborative robots; and zero-touch provisioning and asset management services that update devices, machines and systems automatically or on demand.

“Traditional manufacturing systems lack the flexibility, connectivity and distributed intelligence needed to effectively address rapidly changing market demands and consumer expectations,” said John Newkirk, VP and GM, Industrial Solutions, Molex. “Our legacy in industrial automation, coupled with Molex’s longstanding relationships across the factory automation ecosystem, is fuelling the development of open, modular IAS4.0 and FAM solutions that significantly improve efficiency while reducing complexity, cost and time to market.”

According to a June 2021 survey commissioned by Molex on the “State of Industry 4.0”, more than half of those surveyed expect to meet their Industry 4.0 goals within two years. However, nearly all the participants, representing robot, machine/production line and device or control systems manufacturers, reported significant technology challenges. Among the biggest impediments identified were barriers caused by separate IT and OT network infrastructures, restrictive communication protocols, limited remote access, poorly aligned cloud infrastructure and data solutions as well as inadequate security capabilities.