At the Rexel Campus, training center of Rexel Germany, the coffee break becomes an IoT experience: A smart coffee machine from Pepperl+Fuchs and Neoception demonstrates in a vivid way what is possible with innovative sensor technology and intelligent IoT solutions and makes Industry 4.0 tangible.

Digitalization, Industry 4.0, IoT – buzzwords that we all know and can no longer imagine life without. Behind the trendy topics of the economy there is enormous potential to make industrial plants and production processes more efficient with innovative technologies. However, many plant operators face the challenge of putting Industry 4.0 concepts such as predictive maintenance and condition monitoring into practice and exploiting this potential. In order to provide its customers with the best possible support for such tasks, the German company of the Rexel Group, electrical wholesaler for industry and the electrical trade, offers training courses and seminars on all aspects of these current topics. At the specially created Rexel Campus in Heimertingen in southern Germany, customers from the field can not only see the latest technologies from various manufacturers, but also test them in action. “With the Rexel Campus, we want to give our customers the opportunity to not only look at products in an online catalog, but to experience and try them out live,” reports Holger Notz, Sales Expert Industrial Automation at Rexel Germany. “We are sure that the best way to support our customers in their daily tasks and challenges in practice is to share our know-how with them in this way and accompany them on the path to digitization.”

Along with Siemens, ABB and Schneider Electric, Pepperl+Fuchs is one of the companies presenting its products and solutions on site and making them available for practical testing. A special highlight: A smart coffee machine with sensor technology, cloud connection and individually configured dashboard makes it possible to experience and understand the possibilities of the Internet of Things – comfortably during the coffee break.


“We deliberately wanted to use an everyday example on our campus to show what possibilities innovative technologies and Industry 4.0 concepts offer,” reports Maximilian Sabe, Sales Expert Industrial Automation at Rexel. “A coffee machine seemed ideal for this, because almost everyone drinks coffee. This way you can also impart knowledge during small talk in the coffee break and demonstrate the training content with a tangible example.” To put the plan into action, Sabe asked long-time partner and supplier Pepperl+Fuchs for support. “We equipped a fully automatic coffee machine for the Rexel Campus with various components that enable the IoT experience while drinking coffee,” explains Anna-Lena Haller, Account Manager at Pepperl+Fuchs. “Innovative sensor technology from Pepperl+Fuchs provides the necessary data from the machine, which is interpreted accordingly and then displayed in real time on a dashboard developed by Neoception.”

In detail, it looks like this: Optoelectronic sensors measure the fill levels of the two coffee bean containers, while an ultrasonic sensor records the current level of the water tank. Via the IO-Link interface of the sensors, this data is transmitted to the IO-Link master and passed on to the cloud via MQTT. The dashboard shows the current fill levels in a clear display and always provides information on whether there is still enough raw material for the next coffee. Since the dashboard resides in the cloud, accessing the status data of all three Rexel sites is easy and can be done from anywhere, e.g., by retrieving a QR code. Maintenance staff can thus remotely see if, for example, coffee beans or water need to be refilled.

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