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  • How Industry 4.0 can improve efficiencies across your operations

    Advantages of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

by John Atkinson

The second decade of the 21st century saw technological advances that brought about a convergence between IT and operations. As the Internet of Things began transforming households via the creation of “smart homes,” smart factories is the next logical step.

A tale of two machines

To give an overview of the advantages of smart factories we will start with the most vital front-line component of a modern factory: machines. One using old-school design and operational principles, one using Industry 4.0 standards.

For the purpose of our example each machine makes plastic sheeting for the packaging industry. The machine itself features an extruder, roll stacks, vision inspection system and sensors monitoring each step. In practical application it can be any machine.

Old School Machine

In an old school shop, this sensors are hardwired to a control cabinet wherein resides all the necessaries: HMI, PLCs, motion and I/O controllers etc. Which is in turn hardwired back to a control panel where a machine operator monitors the process.

The machine runs two shifts with maintenance performed during scheduled downtime. Repairs are handled in reaction to component failures, requiring that downtime for repair being a significant cost factor. Material waste represents the second cost factor of concern. The machine operator is the access point for interactions with management, maintenance and quality assurance.

Old Style Disconnected Factory
Old-school machine operations

Same machine – Retrofitted to Industry 4.0

In the updated shop, the machine has been retrofitted with wireless sensors, where possible, that read back to a wireless head-end in the control cabinet.

The machine itself now connects to the internet through a private LTE which encompasses the shop floor, shipping and receiving and customer service operations. The sensor data is fed to a cloud AI, where the data from all the machines sensors is analyzed and contextualized in real-time before being displayed on secure, remotely accessible dashboards.

Maintenance and repairs shift from preventive and reactive to a proactive model as sensor data can be used predictively to replace worn or damaged components during scheduled downtime. These dashboards can be tailored to display only the data relevant to the viewer.

Indusrty 4.0 Connected Machine

But Wait, there's more

The machine data only represents one dataset fed to a cloud AI platform. Logistics, operations, all of your shop’s efficiencies and KPIs can be monitored and tracked, providing you with the most important thing of all: actionable intelligence. Intelligence that can save you money and improve your equipment ROI by increasing throughput and quality.

IIoT and Industry 4.0 is the next-level marriage of IT and operation by fully utilizing all of your data, not just bits and pieces. Big picture information empowering you to roll over on your beach towel and get a full picture of your operations and productivity metrics right now. No need to call Carl.

The industry experts at Excite Innovations, LLC, can assess your systems and show you how you can improve your metrics and take greater control of your bottom line.