The automation pyramid classifies the different IT layers of industrial automated production plants. Every layer or level has is own tasks and IT infrastructure within the production plants. In general, the automation pyramid is divided into 6 layers.
- Level 0 (lowest level): Process level with sensors and actuators for collecting production data and executing commands, respectively. On this level, a parallel wiring is typical.
- Level 1: Field level acting as the interface between the production process and control level. Typical systems are fieldbus and input / output modules.
- Level 2: Control level carrying the IT structure for controlling the production process by means of an ICS (typically SPS).
- Level 3: (Process) management level for the monitoring, operational purposes as well as the recipe management via a process management system, e.g. SCADA.
- Level 4: Operational management level including MES, MIS or LIMS serving as interfaces for the detailed production planning, quality management as well as data collection, material management and KPI documentation.
- Level 5 (highest level): Company level for the general production planning and order management via the ERP system.
The structure of the automation pyramid can vary. Level 0 and 5 might not exist separately or different levels are summarized in one level. In context of industry 4.0 and the industrial Internet of Things the automation pyramid is strongly discussed. Several voices demand a flattening of the pyramid to allow for the flexibility and interconnectivity which Industry 4.0 aims for