digital. integrated. networked.

Industry 4.0 for existing installations


In many manufacturing companies, heterogeneous production environments have evolved over time and many production lines still operate with a low degree of automation. These can – and should – now be integrated into today’s digital world. By retrofitting existing plants and machines with modern components, they can be integrated into your digital production. This can be achieved, for example, by installing new sensors in combination with a Fraunhofer vBox. The vBox can pre-process arbitrary digital and analogue signals and put them at your disposal. It is a low-cost solution to extend your equipment’s lifetime and integrate it with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and smart manufacturing approaches of Industry 4.0.


After a retrofit, you can start collecting and saving production data and metrics and make them available throughout the network environment in real time. Benefit from smart monitoring and controlling abilities across your entire production environment and across all plants; keep tabs on the effectiveness and capacity utilisation of retrofitted legacy machinery; and make errors traceable.

Retrofit to get
fit for the future

A few easy steps to smart manufacturing

The reliable way of modernisation: a secure implementation process that is perfectly matched to your requirements, your schedule and your budget!


What capabilities does the machine already have? Does it generate no signals at all? Can we gain insights from existing signals or do we need to install new sensors? Is there already an integrated (modern) bus system that could make a retrofit redundant?


Before installing them, all sensors must first be carefully selected to match a client’s needs and aims. We will jointly decide this based on your individual requirements on the solution.


What kind of hardware and software must be installed to make the sensor data available in a meaningful way?

We recommend using a vBox if a machine does not have any digital or analogue capabilities, if the monitoring has to be passive, if we can expect a high data load or if you need a frequency analysis of an analogue input signal using Fourier transformations. The digitalisation of analogue sensor data can also be achieved using third-party hardware and/or microcontrollers


The sensors and – if needed – a preprocessor agent will be installed and connected to our edbic solution and to the event engine. The retrofit is then complete and your machine will be ready for data analysis. For how it works, see Predictive Maintenance.
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Our experience. Use Case Digitalisation of an analogue machine.

Our partner is a market leader in electrical installation technology with two production sites in Germany who is exporting to more than 60 countries.


Our client owns a custom-built punching machine that is part of their production line. A custom gear wheel is, at the same time, essential to the proper functioning of this machine, only available from specialised manufacturers in Italy, and too expensive to put a spare in stock. Since long order and delivery times are shutting down production for at least two weeks in case of failure, the optimal replacement time of this gear must be analysed. In order to correctly predict the end of service life, a retrofit is necessary because no digital interfaces are currently available.


Several sensors were installed for measuring, among other things, structure-borne sound, temperature and electrical current. This allows our client to recognise, for instance, cracks in the gear or an increased power consumption that indicates an increased load due to friction, that is, a lack of lubricant. The vBox processes the sensor signals and sends the data to edbic. The frequency spectrum and other values are recorded and analysed for outliers in real-time. If an outlier is detected (e.g. crack detection by frequency analysis), an alarm is logged and an operator will be alerted. The staff then can take a closer look at the recorded values and decide on any necessary action, thus avoiding production standstills.

Implementation with the Fraunhofer IPT vBox

In order to prevent the unnecessary replacement of machines and systems in perfect working condition and long before their end of life, Fraunhofer IPT has developed the vBox: it equips production systems with networking capabilities as envisaged by the Industry 4.0 paradigm, thus helping machine operators prevent the extraordinary costs caused by unplanned downtimes – both in mass and single piece production settings.


Fraunhofer IPT’s vBox works in compliance with the latest industry standards: the compact system synchronise position data as well as digital inputs and outputs with sensor data and display the information to operators as needed – independently of the control technology used.

Machine data and information on power, structure-borne sound or acceleration will be flawlessly transmitted in real time to edbic, to detect malfunctions in critical process steps and to instantly optimize processes. On this basis, companies can even revise and optimise the shift plans of individual operators and service technicians.
Among the vBox’s immediately visible benefits are: an accelerated ramp-up of new serial productions; quality improvements in manufactured items through the constant monitoring of processes; or predictive maintenance capabilities for production machine assemblies.

VBox – adaptive production made easy


  • nsure a timely supply of spare parts
  • Extend machine lifetimes through permanent monitoring and an extended spare parts supply
  • Boost production volumes
  • Increase plant availability in a targeted way, by reducing downtimes


  • Improve product quality
  • Comply with regulations (e.g., emissions reduction, occupational safety)
  • Integrate legacy machines into modern IT environments (Industry 4.0)


  • Lower investment costs than having to replace machines or entire plants
  • No costly investments for new foundations because old but stable machine beds can be reused
  • Higher system efficiency, e.g. through energy savings
  • Reduced staff training costs as existing machines are already known
  • No time-consuming approval procedures as with new equipment
  • Further time savings by partial renewal instead of full replacement

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