WHILE IT’S NOT A NEW CON­CEPT, the In­dus­trial In­ter­net of Things (IIoT) con­tin­ues to gen­er­ate buzz in the in­dus­try with the prom­ise of un­lock­ing fur­ther op­por­tu­nity and great value. Nat­u­rally, the adop­tion rate of such tech­nolo­gies hasn’t quite taken off at a rapid speed but ad­vance­ments in IIoT have now reached a cru­cial tip­ping point. Jozef Ceh, SMC’s Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Leader and Elec­tronic Plat­forms Man­ager, is an ex­pert on the sub­ject, and says that SMC has seen an in­crease in the de­mand for IIoT tech­nolo­gies by both cur­rent and prospec­tive cus­tomers across var­i­ous in­dus­tries. He says that IIoT is be­com­ing ‘more real’.

“Thanks to ed­u­ca­tion and con­tin­u­ous demon­stra­tion, busi­nesses are start­ing to re­alise that there is real value and tan­gi­ble ben­e­fit to em­ploy­ing such tech­nolo­gies. They are re­al­is­ing that IIoT is within their reach and ca­pac­ity. It is no longer just a fu­ture pos­si­bil­ity. We are sur­rounded by evolv­ing in­fra­struc­ture and re­turn on in­vest­ment is be­com­ing more quan­tifi­able.”

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ben­e­fits first­hand: Close the loop

Ceh says that over time, real-life suc­cess sto­ries are com­ing to light.

“We are see­ing di­rect sav­ings and over­all value. Through in­ter­ac­tion with ma­chin­ery, pro­duc­tion plan­ning and sup­ply chain man­age­ment is pos­si­ble. IIoT reaches ev­ery­one from the fac­tory floor op­er­a­tor to the se­nior man­age­ment level who use ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to pre­dict trends in the busi­ness.”

He ex­plains that in many forms, value is re­alised at dif­fer­ent lev­els.

“Slight tech­ni­cal im­prove­ments, for in­stance, could elim­i­nate down­time or bot­tle­necks and this in­stantly cre­ates value in terms of quicker de­liv­ery to the mar­ket and bet­ter sup­ply de­mand man­age­ment.”

The facts speak for them­selves and re­cently SMC saw great suc­cess at a Mel­bourne-based cus­tomer by scal­ing their pack­ag­ing line.

“This par­tic­u­lar ma­chine was stopped reg­u­larly to make man­ual ad­just­ments, so the ob­jec­tive was to in­crease through­put ca­pac­ity with mul­ti­ple prod­ucts on one ma­chine – with as lit­tle dis­rup­tion as pos­si­ble.”

SMC pro­posed a closed loop feed­back sys­tem. Us­ing au­to­mated smart de­vices, Ceh ex­plains that the ma­chine now knows where the prod­uct is and au­to­mat­i­cally makes the re­quired ad­just­ments to al­low for the prod­uct range or to rec­tify or self-heal any prob­lem sit­u­a­tion on the pro­duc­tion line.

“When work­ing with plas­tic, tem­per­a­ture plays a big role in how the prod­uct will be­have. The warmer the weather, the more volatile the prod­uct ma­te­rial. With the new IIoT smart sys­tem the de­flec­tion of a prod­uct can be de­tected and mea­sured by us­ing a low-pres­sure cylin­der and a sen­sor. The con­troller will im­me­di­ately read which prod­uct is go­ing to need ad­just­ment and the elec­tric servo drives are then en­gaged to make the dy­namic ad­just­ments dur­ing the au­to­ma­tion process with­out stop­ping the en­tire pro­duc­tion.”

No op­er­a­tor is re­quired – the cus­tomer can an­tic­i­pate the jam and fix it be­fore it hap­pens, thereby re­duc­ing down­time and labour. IIoT is not only about col­lect­ing data – but the in­tel­li­gence be­hind the data. The data is fed back into the process and can make the process ad­just­ment in real time. The sys­tem pro­vides a sum­mary at the end of each day for in­formed de­ci­sion mak­ing. Here, cus­tomers can an­a­lyse the rate of pro­duc­tion, the dif­fer­ent be­hav­iour of the plas­tic prod­uct lines on the ma­chines, the ma­chine speed, break­downs, etc.

“Now that we have a true data source, we can build mod­els to log data into the cloud and we can utilise ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence for pre­dic­tive main­te­nance, pre­dic­tive pro­duc­tion plan­ning, sup­ply chain man­age­ment or for anom­aly de­tec­tion.” Ac­cord­ing to Ceh, the real ROI for this par­tic­u­lar cus­tomer is in the in­crease of their pro­duc­tion and pro­duc­tiv­ity:

• 4500 units up to 7000 units pack­aged.

• Cy­cle time re­duced from 100 to 60 sec­onds to 38 sec­onds.

• Abil­ity to run seven prod­ucts on one ma­chine.

• The re­cy­cled raw plas­tic mix is no longer re­jected (more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly) be­cause the ma­chine’s per­for­mance is not lim­ited by the qual­ity of the raw ma­te­rial.

• Higher through­put – ef­fi­ciency up from 60 per­cent to 118% per­cent.

• Self-di­ag­nos­ing sys­tems al­lows all op­er­a­tors across all shifts to be pro­duc­tive equally.

• Over­all a safer ma­chine.

• No longer sum­mer and win­ter prod­ucts due to ambient tem­per­a­ture of the plas­tics which would af­fect pro­duc­tion. Now all plas­tics can run equally.

• Re­duced down­time of the ma­chine.

“The real se­cret here is un­lock value by clos­ing the loop.”

Start with SMC’s four-stage process

Prid­ing it­self on walk­ing the jour­ney with its cus­tomers, SMC has taken a prac­ti­cal ap­proach to In­dus­try 4.0 and has de­vel­oped a four-stage process to help im­ple­ment such so­lu­tions. This looks at un­der­stand­ing the drivers for change, con­duct­ing a dig­i­tal ma­tu­rity check, iden­ti­fy­ing key en­ablers and de­vel­op­ing a road map for de­ploy­ment.

“Cus­tomers can con­tact us to find out more about the four-stage process and we look for­ward to walk­ing the jour­ney with them.”


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