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The ctrlX developR Challenge brings people together

Can industrial automation make the world a better place? It can certainly improve the world of production. It helps to conserve resources, create new ways of thinking and make processes more efficient. Alexander Huhn who is participating in the current ctrlX developR Challenge is convinced of this. In this interview, the 19-year-old from Bad Laasphe and other participants from various countries talk about what motivates them to turn their project idea for ctrlX AUTOMATION into reality during this international competition.

Bosch Rexroth launched the ctrlX developR Challenge to give developers a platform for realizing their automation visions. Using the ctrlX CORE control platform, they are supported not only by their mentors at Bosch Rexroth but also by ctrlX World partner companies. 25 participants and their ideas have made it into the solution phase which is currently well under way. Three participants give exclusive insights: Loïc Grenon (35) from France, Alexander Huhn (19) from Germany and Martin Scheu (45) from Switzerland.

Loïc Grenon, you began programming at the age of 14. What fascinates you about it?

I taught myself programming (PHP, C/C++ and now Python) and took part in many open source projects. Nowadays, I’m an automation engineer and in the future I’ll be in charge of automating special machines in our company. I love my job. Discovering and learning new things and rising to challenges – this is all part of my dream job. What could be better than seeing a machine do what you tell it to do for the first time?

How will industrial automation change work in factories?

Employees will no longer need to perform repetitive tasks. Automation can relieve the burden on them and allow them to concentrate on other areas where they can create added value. It also plays a role in safety systems and helps to protect them against dangers in factories.

Why did you decide to take part in the competition?

I came across an article about the ctrlX developR Challenge on LinkedIn and I knew I wanted to take part straight away. I like challenges and enjoy programming ... and I love open source because it offers maximum flexibility thanks to its openness. I also regard taking part in the challenge as an opportunity to do something useful for the Community.

Alexander Huhn, you too are highly motivated – because ctrlX CORE fits in perfectly with your project. Why?

ctrlX CORE is perfect for my project because it combines components with a different architecture – a completely new approach to industrial automation. The fact that many creative people are taking part in the challenge is another reason. After all, this can lead to new collaborations and experiences in industrial automation.

Can you give us a brief insight into your project?

The project relates to a green sand molding machine in the company where I work. Given the distance between the sensor and the PLC and the complex installation work involved, wired sensors cannot be used. We also lack a platform which allows us to view the collected data in a cloud for example in order to assess the incoming values. ctrlX CORE provides a solution for both of these problems. A microcontroller with implemented WiFi reads the values and sends them wirelessly to ctrlX CORE. It receives the data via MQTT and sends the values to a cloud. The PLC connects via the OPC UA client in order to communicate with the control system. If this works well, we’d be prepared to apply this technology to other sensors in the machine. So we’re developing a use case which ideally can be used in practice.

In what other ways will you benefit from taking part?

I’ve gained a great deal of experience regarding the IoT through my mentors who are experts in this field. I also hope to expand my network because the challenge brings together lots of people who work in the area of industrial automation.

Martin Scheu, industrial automation is your passion too. How is this segment changing the world?

Without industrial automation, the modern world would stand still. From electricity, water or food to transport and production – industrial automation is present everywhere. And we can use industrial automation to improve the situation in many other areas, for example energy or resources. There’s definitely a need for versatile automation platforms such as ctrlX AUTOMATION.

Why did you decide to take part in the ctrlX developR Challenge and with what project did you enter?

Being given ctrlX CORE for practical programming and testing was very motivating. To put it simply, I like finding out about new technologies. Because cyber security is very important for ctrlX AUTOMATION too, I thought about specific ways in which I could address the issue. In the world of automation, IT security is still in its early stages. By taking part in the challenge, my aim is to show what is possible with the help of ctrlX CORE as the central component.

How will the challenge boost your skills?

I can get to know like-minded people, learn how to implement security elements/software and can hopefully remain in contact with the Community. I think that if everyone involved contributes their knowledge during the ctrlX developR Challenge, this will result in a very valuable pool of resources.

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