It’s a bit like Einstein’s theory of relativity, everyone knows about it, but few have read the details. So beyond the buzzwords and generalities, what are some specific examples of the benefits of “digital transformation” and industry 4.0?
Using remote devices to enter or view production instructions. Also remotely view operation status of lines, machines, production values, temperatures, flows, levels. Remote access enables those with specialized knowledge to be available as required.
Materials or Asset Optimization
Tank, bin or hopper levels indication or warehouse stock can trigger an order requisition for more materials. Across multiple lines, make-down units can be automatically optimized for batch production, by doing a small batch first before tying up an asset on a large volume request.
Compatible products may be produced in sequence to eliminate a wash or purge cycle.
Often electrical rates are higher during peak times. Therefore, large electrical loads such as heaters, ovens, dryers, large pump motors, etc. can be auto-scheduled to operate using off-peak demand rates. This saves money and makes the electrical grid happier.
Smart devices such as RFID, scanning technologies can be interfaced to track products, batches, measurement data and more. The use of open and easily configured automation systems allows for integration of new sensor technology to take advantage of their advanced capabilities.
The engineering work to customize systems and take advantage of improved and automated work-flow is significant. Therefore commodity-based open systems and devices with pre-developed software is a great starting point. With lower systems costs, more funds can be directed into project engineering which builds a better overall solution and business case for ROI.