We have reviewed the RAMI in the previous articles providing an understanding of how information is structured how it can be retrieved to control and optimize production. Types and instances are used to keep track of revision and allow the partners in the life cycle value stream (supplier and customers) to communicate.


The way they communicate is done through the Asset Administration Shell. Anything that holds value to an organization (asset) is described electronically (article 3) and each party can add and read information. This is also a fundamental concept of Industry 4.0. This further demonstrates the need for standardization and harmonization for correct and useful communication.



Asset Administrative Shell

The Asset Administration Shell (AAS), a key concept of Industry 4.0 and is used to describe an asset electronically in a standardized manner (see also the layers paragraph). Its purpose is to exchange asset-related data among industrial assets and between assets and production orchestration systems or engineering tools. In summary the administration shell:


* integrates the asset into Industrie 4.0 communication (e.g. virtual representation of physical object)


* is addressable in the network and identifies the asset unambiguously (e.g. product is now integrated part of information process)


* provides a controlled access to all information of the asset (e.g. layers)


is the standardized and secure communication interface


* can integrate intelligent and also non-intelligent („passive“) assets (without a communication interface), e.g. via bar codes or QR codes


represents the entire life cycle of products, devices, machines and plants.

(from the Plattform Industry 4.0 Details of the Asset Administration Shell, from idea to implementation report)


This means that apart from describing an asset in a standardized way, it can also communicate in an I4.0 compliant manner by using a standard for communication (need for standardization is important). With all parties involved having access to the connected world and all information is defined in a harmonized way (same language), information can be shared in the value chain where the asset can be followed during its life cycle.


Just for clarification, a schematic overview of an administrative shell can be shown as follows:

051 I4Components



An administration shell is fundamentally made up of two parts. The body characterizes the asset along with its properties, whilst the header contains all of the data of an asset that relates to its use (meta-communication). As a minimum, the header will contain the “life cycle record” (part of the life cycle value stream).




Overview AAS with objects

Just as an example, a representation of the administration shell with data that can be included is shown below.



052 I4Components




An I4.0 component is uniquely identifiable in the network, which means that the physical asset it represents can be found using a unique identifier (ID).





 AAS with Daat structure (from ZVEI documentation)


Asset Administrative Shell Example

An example of the use of the administrative shell is included below (this is taken directly from a presentation of Platform Industrie 4.0):


* During engineering, functionalities are planned, e.g. a motor with a certain torque and shaft height. A few properties of the motor will be put into the administrative shell.


*In a next step, a specific motor type from a manufacturer is chosen, more information about that motor type will be added to the administrative shell.


* The motor manufacturer delivers a component for calculating and simulating the motor, the choice can be simulated and confirmed.


* Then, during commissioning, the motor will be ordered, the motor type becomes a motor instance with a serial number, specific data for that individual motor. The administrative shell is enriched again.


* Operating parameters (temperature, vibrations, …) are measured during operation of the motor. This can be recorded in the administrative shell.


* Maintenance is done on the motor, and it is recorded in the administrative shell.


* After end-of-life, the motor is replaced with a new one. This change, and all information about the new motor type & instance is recorded.


* Information in the admin shell can be exchanged between all partners in a value chain: suppliers, engineering partners, system integrators, operators and service partners.



This example shows that we can follow an asset over its entire life cycle where all partners in the value chain can add and retrieve information.



Industry 4.0 Summary

 Following phrase was found on a forum that summarizes all information above in a simple statement:




 The ultimate goal (of Industry 4.0) is to create a transparent and efficient supply chain that connects the raw material supplier to the consumer.


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