"Feel free to change the game" – this is the motto of the ctrlX AUTOMATION magazine 2022/2023. Learn more about the new freedom in industrial automation enabled by the Linux operating system ctrlX OS and the planar system ctrlX FLOW6D. You can also expect exciting customer projects, partner statements and much more.
ctrlX developR Johannes Albrecht: Automation has to be simple
Don't follow the trends but go ahead and develop "The next big thing" yourself - that's what drives ctrlX developR. One of them is Johannes Albrecht. The Area Product Owner for IoT & Apps at ctrlX AUTOMATION has been on board since the very beginning, driving the Software Development Kit (SDK), apps and ctrlX OS forward. His goal is to make automation as easy as possible for users. In this interview, Johannes talks about what matters in the automation of the future and what moves the industry.
Johannes, since when have you been developing for ctrlX AUTOMATION?
I helped to launch ctrlX AUTOMATION, so to speak. This means that I have been involved from the very beginning. As a software developer, I was able to lay the foundations for ctrlX CORE and the ctrlX Data Layer, among other things. The ctrlX CORE is the all-rounder, flexible and open control platform that equips every factory for the future, and the integrated ctrlX Data Layer manages communication between apps in real and non-real time.
What do you do exactly?
I am an Area Product Owner for several IoT apps such as Node-RED, InfluxDB and Grafana as well as our Software Development Kit. Recently, I have also been co-responsible for ctrlX OS – our newest member of the ctrlX AUTOMATION product family. The real-time, Linux-based operating system was previously used exclusively on the ctrlX CORE. We have taken the step of opening it up and making it available as a separate solution for the industrial environment. This is unique in the market.
For me as a product owner, it is essential that I understand the different requirements of the customers for the individual products. I constantly ask myself the question: What do users really need? Today and tomorrow. We consistently base our development on this.
What fascinates you about the automation kit?
What fascinates me most about ctrlX AUTOMATION is its radical openness. The software development kit in particular offers almost every possibility to implement your own software modules. This means that the control system can be ideally tailored to your own process. I am also impressed by the constantly growing ecosystem. More and more partners and users are contributing their own apps. So we don't develop the system alone, but are a digital community that contributes its knowledge. As a result, the range of functions is growing immensely, and everyone is benefiting.
What exactly did you develop the Software Development Kit for?
To make it easier to create and deploy custom applications, including for the ctrlX CORE controller. The SDK offers many extension functions for this purpose. It enables an easy start in the development of applications. For example, there are several options for creating applications in different programming languages. Libraries, tools and application examples are integrated in the SDK. Automation must be simple. The Software Development Kit provides great support for developers and opens up maximum freedom.
Where is the journey in automation heading?
In my view, Bosch Rexroth has pulled off a major coup with the Linux-based operating system. With ctrlX OS, we have detached our software from our own hardware and thus developed an operating system that is suitable for industrial use. ctrlX OS offers a solution at almost every level of automation. For me and my team, ctrlX OS will definitely be a main topic of the next iterations. The positive feedback in the market shows that we are on the right track in this respect as well.