Traditional nameplate

Traditional nameplate

| Michael Rudschuck
2019-12-16 short info

Digital nameplate: Foundation for Industrie 4.0

Analog nameplates will soon be a thing of the past. Gone are the times of technicians having to struggle to decipher illegible nameplates. Digital nameplates are on the rise: The ZVEI is working together with manufacturers from the industry on the practical implementation and the standard experts at DKE have created a prestandard for to help establish a standard for Industrie 4.0.

The digital nameplate 4.0 is a project of the ZVEI and the Helmut-Schmidt University, Hamburg. Since the end of 2018, the two project partners have been working on this implementation with manufacturers from the automation related zone.

The aims of the project:

  • Full digitization of traditional nameplates
  • Elimination of paper documentation accompanying the product
  • Supporting document for the feasibility of the administration shell

Further information on the ZVEI project: The Digital Nameplate 4.0


Dr. Michael Rudschuck

What are the challenges and aims for digital nameplates?

Digital nameplate: Foundation for Industrie 4.0

Digital nameplate: Foundation for Industrie 4.0


Today, the declaration of product authorizations reached a level such that it is difficult to include all the required information on a nameplate.

However, in the age of Industrie 4.0, all relevant information should be made available in a paper-free, digital format and therefore be available from anywhere. However, a networked information and communication infrastructure as part of Industrie 4.0 is not yet being used for nameplates. For this reason, the number of markings often no longer fits on a traditional nameplate.

A key aim of digital nameplates is to make statutory device markings available in an electronically legible form. In the long term, traditional nameplates should be replaced with an electronic identifier. There is also the need to provide further device information when using a modern information concept such as the administration shell from Industrie 4.0.

Comparison of traditional and digital nameplates

Traditional nameplateDigital nameplate
Device information can only be accessed locallyDevice information can be accessed from anywhere in the world

Information can only be viewed when up close

Information can be viewed on any display

The amount of information is limited due to the size of the nameplateThe amount of information is digital and therefore practically unlimited
Information is static and cannot be adapted if necessaryInformation is dynamic and can be adapted if necessary
Required documentation about the life cycle of single componentsSimplified documentation about the life cycle of single components

Prestandard for digital nameplates published

Digitization is making great strides. In the industrial field especially, huge changes have taken place in recent years: Mechanical and plant engineering is strongly networked, production is becoming increasingly autonomous and AI has also found its way into the production hall.

But what stands out is: Traditional nameplates have not yet become obsolete. They can still be found everywhere on parts, components and systems. In the course of digitization, however, it is urgent that nameplates are made available in a digital and machine-legible format – behind the simple concept of the digital nameplate is the aforementioned extensive digitization concept, which forms the basis for Industrie 4.0.

The use of digital nameplate for explosion protection

Traditional nameplate

Traditional nameplate

| DIN VDE V 0170-100

Initiated by manufacturers of flameproof equipment and operators of electrical systems in explosion-prone environments, the “Digital Nameplate” project was started. On the one hand, this was motivated by the desire to be able to accommodate increasing numbers of identifiers on equipment, as a lot of information is required, especially for explosion protection. On the other hand, this was to be able to electronically manage information about the equipment.

The aim of the standardization is to showcase digital solutions as alternatives to current plaintext labeling on nameplates or product packaging. A machine-legible identifier can be used by the device manufacturer during production to automatically control the flow of material, which today is often done using a barcode. The product can be electronically reviewed during export by customs authorities, for example. The operator can clearly identify the product as soon as the goods arrive. During operation, the service technician or a responsible organization is also able to electronically review the product for the approved application. The data from the machine-legible nameplate can be transferred directly into an ERP system for error-free inventory. Therefore, all device data is available to the operator digitally.

In the long term, the traditional nameplate should be replaced with a digital nameplate. In this case, the legally required marking should be. For a higher level of acceptance, a minimum amount of markings in plaintext must be applied to the device.

Explosion protection must meet the most stringent statutory documentation. For this reason, the standardization for an electronic nameplate has been driven forward as a pilot project on the part of DKE in the expert panel DKE/K 241. But even if the standardization is driven forward by this area, the concepts that have been developed are universally applicable and can therefore be transferred to practically all sectors of the industry and expanded.

The prestandard DIN VDE V 0170-100 was created as a result of the standardization in the expert panel DKE/K241. The publication of the standard is expected to be published in the first quarter of 2020. The standard is also planned to be submitted internationally to the IEC.

Editor's note:

The standards listed in the text can be purchased at VDE VERLAG.