August 27, 2015 2:48 pm
How IT is revolutionising industrial manufacturing environment
What is ‘smart factory’With the revolution in the field of Information Technology (IT), ‘smart’ has become the new buzzword. ‘Smart factory’ and ‘Industry 4.0’ are the two new terms that are shaping the direction of today’s manufacturing environment.
David Orgaz D’Hollander, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, Process Automation, Schneider Electric defines ‘smart factory’ as an integrated and fully interconnected network of smart assets working together in an intelligent and coordinated manner, managing every aspect of the manufacturing process from end-to-end. “Each smart asset is equipped with its own ‘brain’ and a database of all available data about itself, enabling it to present useful information or ‘facets’ to different operation personnel, and is also equipped with its own intelligence to allow it to optimise their own productivity and efficiency,” he says.
In a smart factory, enabling technologies like Ethernet IP-based networks, the foundation of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), will be utilised to build a fully interconnected network of smart assets within the framework of the factory, making data within these smart assets accessible from the field right through to the enterprise level of a business. “By combining the data within these smart assets with operational intelligence (big data, analytics, asset performance information), manufacturing plants can now extract more value from their assets, and move from passive process automation and decision support to intelligent, semi-autonomous decision making systems,” Mr D’Hollander adds.Manish Walia, Vice President, Industrial Automation Business Group, Delta India explains ‘smart factory’ as where the manufacturing process has adopted intelligent, dynamic and environmentally sustainable technologies. High-performance, reliable communication technology and energy-efficient automation process are the primary aspects of smart manufacturing process. “A ‘smart factory’ also concentrates on easier management, optimum utilisation of resources and a clear cost savings,” he adds.
Whereas, a senior spokesperson from Mitsubishi Electric describes the concept of ‘smart factory’ as a vision of what industrial production will look like in the future. Factories in the future will be much more intelligent, flexible and vibrant. He said, “Today, most factories are running fixed program operations. In contrast, in a smart factory, machinery and equipment will have the ability to improve processes through self-optimisation and autonomous decision making.”
In the future, all forms of advanced industry will have to become more intelligent in order to compete effectively. This intelligence comes from advanced integrated circuits (ICs) that provide sensing, measurement, control, power management and communication – both wired and wireless. The shop floor of a smart factory consists of intelligent, networked machines that operate autonomously to achieve mass customisation of intelligent, networked products.
Smart factories are designed keeping in mind the sustainability and service-oriented business practices. High levels of automation come as the standard in a smart factory. With the current global economic meltdown adding to the pressure on an already under-pressure manufacturing industry, a smart factory requires production and administrative processes to come together via IT systems in order to optimise the use and capacity of machines and lines.
Smart factory production brings numerous advantages over conventional manufacture and production. Traditionally, factory automation has been optimised to produce identical or nearly identical goods efficiently and rapidly to achieve cost reductions from volume production. Product variation and design changes often require some degree of flexibility to be built into the process. This flexibility usually requires downtime for resetting equipment and retooling, which can diminish volumes and increase costs. Greater electronic intelligence can enhance the manufacturing process to provide flexibility while keeping costs low and improving quality, reliability and safety.
Also, when intelligent equipment in the factory can handle product variations automatically, smaller production runs become possible without significantly increasing production costs. In this way, smart factories allow greater product diversity and facilitate shorter life cycles for products that have to change rapidly, the spokesperson from Mitsubishi Electric adds.
Industry 4.0 is a vision of tomorrow’s manufacturing and a culmination of concepts like smart factories, cyber physical systems, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data. It promotes the computerisation of manufacturing with the goal of achieving resource efficiency and value chain integration. According to the Industry 4.0 working group, smart factories and the IoT will be reality by 2025. According to Shyam Padwal, Manager – Marketing, B&R Industrial Automation, “Manufacturers will be able to react to future market trends with mass customised products, while keeping costs steady and reducing time-to-market. Machines and plants will be capable of self-configuration, self-diagnosis and self-maintenance.”
Industrial automation in achieving ‘smart manufacturing’Industrial automation has a lot of potential in manufacturing facilities, regardless of size, intricacy or the type of industry. It is characterised by an increasing decentralisation of the automation functions. One added factor is that production-related and administrative information systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing execution systems (MES) and automation systems have to be linked efficiently to each other to permit the prompt procurement of materials.
Automation guarantees that all production-related data on order and material streams, costs and product quality from the various IT systems and production sectors, and from the shop floor system, is merged and made available in real time.
Today’s concept of industrial automation is based on having one centralised ‘brain’ collecting information from the manufacturing assets to facilitate production decisions. In ‘smart manufacturing’ the intelligence is decentralised, with each of the smart assets within the factory, having full information about itself, and equipped with the processing power to optimise their own productivity and efficiency. These smart assets are also hyperconnected to optimise and coordinate each step of the manufacturing process.
Smart assets are already available in the market today with the new generation of process automation systems and smart field instrumentation. Hyper connectivity that allows smart assets to be fully interconnected from the field to the enterprise is also already available in the market. According to Mr D’Hollander, all these enabling technologies are progressively being adopted in industrial automation to assist manufacturers attain new levels of productivity and intelligence, a pre-requisite to competing in a connected global market.
According to Mr Walia, “Highly-automated, advanced factories help in maximising the resource utilisation, optimising the productivity and also ensuring that the consumers get safe, quality products. It also facilitate in high performance, sustainable and energy efficient manufacturing process. Flexible, reconfigurable and scalable manufacturing equipment can respond to fast-changing consumer preferences. Intelligent machines can monitor their own health, throughput and yield, and report corrective action to maintenance staff.”
Industrial automation plays a pivotal role in smart factories. Sharing his comments on this important aspect, Sameer Gandhi, Managing Director, Omron Automation, India says, “For a factory to be smart, it must be able to gather all the data together. It must be able to pick up the basic data – the data from the sensors and controllers – everything has to be there, and that is where industrial automation comes in.”
Earlier a lot of data was in pockets, not connected to each other, but for a smart factory, all of this data must be collated together. “For achieving this real time data collection and collation, a prime requirement is high speed integrated networks. Hence, the kind of high speed industrial networks that Omron provides are a must for smart factories,” Mr Gandhi suggests.
The other aspect of smart factories where industrial automation will play a role is that a data from the field – the machines – needs to be connected to the manufacturing system. Typically this data was earlier being exchanged using an OPC server which means that amount of data needed to be exchanged was limited also the speed was slow. Now, using the new technology, the PLC can directly communicate with the ERP or the MES achieving a two-way communication. It is much faster and can transfer ‘to and fro’ large amounts of data.
However, Mr Padwal says, smart manufacturing calls for a flexible plant operations with minimum time to reprogram. Manufacturing will be focusing on reducing cost, maintaining quality and be faster to the market. “To be competitive and adaptive in a large market place, investment in automation is imperative,” he adds.
Automation will help in implementation of good manufacturing practices, and can provide the continuous documentation required for compliance with standards. Industries like automotive and pharmaceuticals are leveraging industrial automation to produce higher quality goods for their respective customers, which results in a win-win situation for all stake holders. Self diagnosing and maintaining machines would be reality in Industry 4.0. Commenting on this aspect, Mr Padwal suggests, “We need to rethink today’s maintenance strategy and move away from reactive to a condition-based as well as predictive maintenance. This will reduce the operational cost by reducing the shut downs, minimising the inventory and unnecessary repairs. In case of failure of one of the equipment, other connected equipment will help to reduce the wastage by adjusting the intake of the raw material autonomously. Another contribution would be in terms of providing a safe environment for the equipment as well as humans, minimising the risk to these valuable assets.”
Smart SolutionsSchneider Electric has amassed decades of experience in managing data at the plant level and adding innovation to automation, leading to simpler, safer and more flexible processes and machines. “Our long history of innovation in open architectures and Internet-based technologies puts us in a better position than many of our competitors to deliver the promise of the smart plant,” claims Mr D’Hollander. As an innovative global technology company with a strong position in integrated industrial automation, software and energy management, Schneider Electric delivers automation solutions that address both: the challenges of today and the opportunities tomorrow. Opportunities brought about by the advent of the IoT, Industry 4.0 and Big Data and the ongoing evolution of technology, will be adopted in our offering to further enhance our client’s ability to address automation challenges.
“Our work on a pervasive Ethernet solution coupled with our platform for our smart connected assets will bring intelligence to the plant and increase the flexibility and collaboration of our solutions,” Mr D’Hollander said.
B&R, a renowned technology leader in industrial automation, is a trendsetter in machine and process automation. With an impressive product line up in controls, motion, HMIs, industrial PCs and networking solutions based on open standards, B&R is well equipped to help achieve factories of the future. B&R’s APROL process and factory automation system allows any equipment to be interconnected quickly, transparently and safely. This is an important step in order to optimise maintenance intervals, overall energy efficiency and the load on individual machines. APROL provides unique scaling possibilities so that it can be deployed in applications ranging from small automation systems to large-scale plants. Apart from unlimited scalability, ready-to-use solution packages from APROL family like condition monitoring, energy monitoring and plant data acquisition are extremely effective at increasing plant level efficiency. “With APROL, even small and midsized companies can quickly boost productivity and minimise maintenance costs,” asserts Mr Padwal.
Pioneering work by B&R in integrated automation concept has simplified the complexity of modern systems comprising multiple devices. Every device can be seamlessly integrated through a single software programming tool – Automation Studio. Recently B&R built an array of ready-to-use functions for modular application development, introduced to the market as mapp technology. With this B&R not only provides the function blocks for controller but also bundled the necessary objects like HMI templates, device configuration and parameter tables.
B&R has already started deploying technologies such as open-source Ethernet POWERLINK and openSAFETY standards connecting production to IT. According to Mr Padwal, with B&R’s concept it’s already possible to eliminate many of the interfaces in the traditional automation pyramid and move faster to an open and more “cloud oriented” automation architecture which increases flexibility in factories.
Mitsubishi Electric’s Factory Automation and Industrial Division (FAID) understand the needs of smart factory and working continuously on it to develop different allied products solution needed by the industry. IoT technology is enabling new levels of information visibility about the manufacturing and commercial building environments. As an example many companies are looking to analyse energy consumption information remotely to pinpoint abnormal energy usage. This is typically a trigger that service is needed or further analysis needs to be performed.
Mitsubishi Electric’s e-F@ctory is a concept and philosophy to create solutions that deliver IoT and Industry 4.0. and more to that its alliance is the partner network that can build and provide the customised solutions as per the demand of industry. The newly developed gateway module called “C Language Controller” of MELSEC-Q series allows a direct connection from Mitsubishi Electric and third party PLC products on the shop floor and used to aggregate and securely ingest data into the big data analytics server. Data ingestion is the process of validating, filtering, and reformatting the data to make it easier for the big data analytics software to work on it. A few benefits of this are:• No need for intermediate PC infrastructure to interface shop floor controllers to internet information systems • Improved security prevents access by unauthorised personnel• Improved reliability; industrially hardened architecture is immune to typical PC issues.
Delta Electronics has a complete automation product line including powerful AC motor drives, AC servo drives, programmable logic controllers, human machine interfaces, machine vision systems, temperature controllers and more. In addition, Delta provides comprehensive solutions such as energy-saving systems for elevators, air conditioners, lighting, air compressors and power quality improvement to significantly reduce energy consumption for customers, increase overall plant energy efficiency and capacity, and provide energy management and production line visualisation management interfaces to help customers succeed in a highly competitive market place. In recent years, Delta has integrated its industrial automation products, developed industrial control networks, and offered integration services to its clients around the world.“The basic need of industrial automation for a smart factory is high speed network and integrated systems,” says Mr Gandhi. “At Omron the solutions we provide on our SYSMAC platform are based on the Ether CAT network which is a high speed bus. All our products and solutions – PLCs, safety systems, vision inspection, robotics – are integrated on this one network.” Omron also has vision systems that play critical role in smart factories because they are able to do quality inspection online.
Another notable aspect is safety as it facilitates the supervision of people working at the shop floor. A robust safety system is extremely important because it takes care of the safety of man and machines thereby improving productivity. A safety system can also be integrated with the automation system.
With the aim of improving productivity, Siemens has simplified integration of machine tools into production processes. The company has introduced a new concept for efficient work processes surrounding the Sinumerik 840D sl CNC controlling the form of Smart Operation. Jobshops would benefit particularly from the use of Smart Operation as it allows all kinds of work at the machine tool to be performed with greater flexibility and speed and so helps to boost productivity. The new concept encompasses aspects such as job preparation, IT networking, improved usability with touch operation and the use of mobile devices to perform monitoring and control functions. “Smart Operation does not require support by IT specialists and can be simply implemented independently by machine operators – meaning that companies can implement the individual functions using minimal financial and organisational resources,” Siemens claims.
Smart Factory and IndiaToday manufacturing has evolved to such an extent that only through innovation and investment in technologies can businesses gain the productivity and efficiency advantage that will allow them to compete in the global market. Commenting on the future of ‘smart factory’ in India, Mr D’Hollander says, “The ‘Make in India’ initiative, which seeks to make the country a global manufacturing hub is expected to be the biggest driver for smart factories to take the big step forward, as global organisations investing in India will no doubt leverage and integrate technology and skills to enhance their competitive edge and capture markets.”
India is blessed with a growing internal market and does possess potential for export of the goods. Since world markets are connected ever than before, Indian manufacturing industry has to embrace the new technologies to be globally competitive. Fortunately “Make in India” initiative is coming timely with industry 4.0 or Smart Factories. “We hope to see progression in the establishment of new manufacturing set-ups as well as improvements in the existing infrastructure and processes. Manufacturers and technology suppliers in developed countries have already started taking the initial steps by embarking on new development projects. Manufacturers in emerging countries like India will benefit by understanding the advantages, considering the ongoing developments and linking it to their expansion plans. They will definitely accrue some advantage by at least specifying for the affordable and readily available technologies in the market to start with,” anticipates Mr Padwal.
Experts believe that the concept of smart factories is here to stay as is the concept of Industry 4.0. In fact, the Indian manufacturing sector is currently on the verge of heralding a new era for itself. Information technology has started converting conventional manufacturing shop floors worldwide into smart, safe and environmentally sustainable ones and India is no exception. “In India, the current political stability, renewed interest among global investors and new age policies has led to the reaffirmation of this sector’s potential,” opines Mitsubishi Electric spokesperson. “Both MNCs and Indian companies have started investing in ‘smart’ factories that combine automation and new processes.”
Smart factories are here to stay, and grow. If automation makes products like air conditioners cheaper, it would mean an increase in demand and sales. That could potentially add more retail jobs. Some believe smart factories will create many more jobs in the logistics chain, if not within the factory.
“The consumption patterns driven by India’s growing population and the growing middle-class would surely lead to the further adoption of the concept of smart factories by the manufacturers,” opines Mr Gandhi.
For example, the biscuits business segment, the humongous variety of biscuits required to cater to different tastes can surely act as a stimulator to build up a smart factory. In case of automobiles factory, today one car manufacturer is manufacturing different models of cars in different variations in the same time on the same assembly line to cater to the preferences of thousands of customers.
So, the demand is there and now the question is of capacity. Mr Gandhi believes, “Smart factory is going to be successful in India. However, it is going to happen in steps.”
Manufacturing is no longer just about hardware. For optimum utilisation of resources and to offer a product of global standard, manufacturing environment needs a complete integration of hardware and software. With the global manufacturing companies putting up their plants in India, we can be hopeful that the concept of smart manufacturing will also be adopted in India. However, Mr Walia observes, “Implementing new technologies and software solutions demand substantial investments. The government has to assist the SMEs with some incentive programmes as innovation in manufacturing contributes in reducing import and augment nation’s prosperity.” ____________________________________Our work on a pervasive Ethernet solution coupled with our platform for our smart connected assets will bring intelligence to the plant and increase the flexibility and collaboration of our solutions.
David Orgaz D’Hollander, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, Process Automation, Schneider Electric_____________________________________A ‘smart factory’ also concentrates on easier management, optimum utilisation of resources and a clear cost savings.
Manish Walia, Vice President, Industrial Automation Business Group, Delta India________________________________________
Machines and plants will be capable of self-configuration, self-diagnosis and self-maintenance.
Shyam Padwal, Manager – Marketing, B&R Industrial Automation_______________________________________
For a factory to be smart, it must be able to gather all the data together.
Sameer Gandhi, Managing Director, Omron Automation, India__________________________________