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Asset Administration Shell for Industry 4.0

As digitization progresses, companies are accumulating ever greater volumes of data. This data offers great potential for new business models, as long as it is linked in a way that adds value.

Due to the use of different software and platforms, data is stored in a wide variety of formats. For example, at a machine manufacturer, corresponding data accumulates during the design phase. In production, this is followed by data from quality control and operating data by the production line. All this data is incompatible with each other and is stored in so-called data silos. Connecting the data with each other requires a lot of effort, know-how and thus finally money. 

The Asset Administration Shell (AAS) provides the solution to this problem. Basically, the AAS is nothing more than a defined data structure that serves as a cross-company standard. This data structure can be applied to existing data. It ensures compatibility between the data without the necessity of changing them. 

A core component of the AAS standard is machine readability. This is intended to enable further processing by means of automatic linking of data. If, for example, the voltage of a motor is specified in volts in production, but quality control measures in millivolts, it should automatically be clear how these units are related to each other. In concrete terms, this can be achieved with standards such as ECLASS or Common Data Dictionary (CDD). These standards describe concepts (What is a servo motor/gear etc.?), but also units (volts, amps, newtons etc.). They also assign unique IDs to them and define their relationships to each other. The big advantage here is that systems automatically gain an understanding of the underlying data by means of these IDs and the associated relationships. Design data can thus also be used in production. 

But a data structure alone is only half the battle. After all, the data must also be able to be stored and retrieved somewhere. The AAS standard defines appropriate mechanisms for this as well. Specifically, a so-called AAS repository is provided, which manages and outputs the data as AAS. An additional registry, similar to a telephone directory, can provide information about which data is available in the repository and at which endpoints it is located.

As a member of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, M&M Software has experience with the implementation of solutions around the topic of Asset Administration Shell. Specifically, the reference implementation of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance was largely implemented by M&M Software.

As an introduction to the world of the Asset Administration Shell, you can use this open source project: Here we have realized a sample implementation of the AAS using Azure Services based on a Microsoft repository. More information on this implementation will be available shortly in the corresponding Techshorty on the topic "AAS on Azure with Azure Digital Twins".

If you would like to learn more about the possible applications as well as strengths and weaknesses of AAS, please contact our team of experts. 

About the author


Marcus Schüle is a software developer at M&M Software and is passionate about Industry 4.0 and Cloud technologies. He earned his master's degree at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences with a thesis on the Asset Administration Shell (AAS). In projects here at M&M Software, his knowledge of the Asset Administration Shell could be used and expanded in practice.

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