Empowering your Factory of the Future

Empowering your Factory of the Future

New technologies are making an impact on every part of our day to day life - from what we eat and drink, to the way we work, the cars we drive and even our well-being through supplements and pharmaceuticals

By now, you would have heard about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Also known as the industrial internet or Industry 4.0 – the IIoT leverages the power of smart machines and real time analytics to provide insight into industrial processes that drive faster business decisions. In fact, Accenture predicts the IIoT market will reach $500 billion by 2020. This technology is far reaching and can provide benefits to just about every major industry including; manufacturing, retail, pharmaceutical, mining, utilities and transport.

Challenges and Opportunities

New opportunities also bring challenges and the rapid expansion of the IIoT has created a dilemma for companies in a variety of consumer industries. The IIoT is recasting the role of data from a useful asset to the lifeline that drives production decisions and influences the way we live, the food we eat and how we travel – whether it be for business or leisure.

Today, traceability, end to end supply chain and data integrity are under the microscope more than ever as manufacturers need to secure product safety – whether it be in the food and beverage, automotive or pharmaceutical industries. 

Unfortunately for most manufacturers, a combination of legacy equipment, skills gaps in an aging workforce and the struggle to identify and measure the right data means they are not accomplishing anything close to the progress needed to meet changing consumer demands.

These consumer industries are looking to intelligent, connected operations as a way to remain competitive and better serve those who rely on their products. While the opportunities are endless, the challenges are many. Innovation remains critical as patents expire, life cycles shorten and counterfeits flood the market.

A Factory of the Future

The good news is that none of these obstacles are insurmountable, and you can achieve genuine ROI by digitally transforming your manufacturing facilities.

You can meet these challenges with a new kind of factory – a factory of the future. One that is smart, secure, connected, flexible, compliant and is possible today. The approach you take to create your factory of the future will greatly influence your success. When done right, you can maximize ROI, optimize asset utilization, achieve greater speed to market, maintain quality and compliance throughout.

Imagine a facility that leverages digital technologies to connect systems both horizontally and vertically. One that provides data to improve decision-making, performance and compliance. A facility where modular and mobile equipment creates more opportunity for “plug and play” operations and less dependency on manual intervention than ever before. Furthermore, where automatic equipment recognition and verification systems can track and confirm your equipment placements; and where modern visual solutions can guide operators seamlessly through process steps.

Making the Vision a Reality

Advances in enabling technologies has made it possible to establish knowledge-driven operations that can connect your people, processes and technology across every level for better collaboration, faster problem solving and improved innovation within your organisation and its supply chain.

Smart machines and equipment can play a key role in helping food and beverage producers overcome the many obstacles and demands that come with satisfying changing consumer preferences. A smart machine — which generally means one that’s leveraging data and information to improve performance — can bring unprecedented flexibility, increased productivity and cutting-edge efficiency to the plant floor.

Despite this potential, adoption of smart machines by food and beverage companies has been gradual, at best. Gartner, Inc., estimates that smart machines will enter mainstream adoption by 2021, with 30 percent adoption by large companies.

Food and beverage companies, understandably, have questions about how these intelligent technologies can fit into their operations so let us look at two key benefits provided by these technologies: Flexibility and; Data and Information.

Flexibility: Smart machines and equipment offer a new era of flexible production, which is especially important for food and beverage companies, because consumers want choices. Consider the proliferation of options in packaged snacks. Chips and crackers no longer are just available in family size. Consumers have their pick from snack packages to large cartons, with more options in between.

This modern appetite for variety means food and beverage companies need machines that not only do more, but faster as well — without adding production lines for each new product. That means more frequent changeovers, effective batch and recipe management tools, using the same machine for multiple jobs and being flexible enough to meet future consumer demands.

Technology solutions such as independent cart technology (ICT) and robotics can provide flexibility on a production line. ICT provides the foundation for intelligent conveyance systems — advanced and efficient alternatives to conventional systems. They can safely and efficiently manage many carts across a network of linear motors.

Using ICT, some OEMs have reduced changeovers from 45 minutes to just one minute. Overall, ICT minimizes complications and reduces time to market. Robotics also can offer more flexibility to end-of-the-line operations, such as packaging. Smart machines based around a single control system with robotic controls can support faster communication of control, safety and process information and more accurate control of machine movements.

In addition, advances in scalable batch and recipe management tools allow food companies to build more flexible production lines. In the past, a line may have been dedicated to a single product, but companies can now easily and efficiently change recipes on the same line.

Data and Information: The primary difference between smart machines and traditional machines is information. By tying into an Ethernet-based network, smart machines can deliver invaluable, standardized data that food and beverage companies can use to optimize overall operations.

Producers can use that information to improve decision making around product stocking, delays in changeovers and more. Smart machines also open the option of storing data in the cloud, which is becoming more cost-effective and easier to manage.

Sensor technology helps OEMs design self-aware machines that can monitor their own key components and environmental conditions. This level of machine monitoring also facilitates preventive maintenance, supported by the OEM. Machines can consist of both wired and wireless sensors, allowing production lines to produce products more reliably and efficiently.

Working closely with their OEM, food and beverage producers also can deploy mobile devices to connect with smart machines. This can eliminate the need for operators to stand close to machines, allowing them to multi-task while maintaining digital access to monitor and control their machinery.

Smart Technology and Automation

As the IIoT continues to advance at a rapid rate, pharmaceutical companies are transforming the industry by using smart, connected devices, analytics and machine learning to improve drug manufacturing processes and deliver better patient outcomes.

Pharmaceutical companies have dramatically increased the use of smart technology and automation in production facilities to improve drug quality and speed innovation. Many have also  streamlined operations with modern manufacturing execution system (MES) and electronic batch record (EBR) systems.

However, as the number of intelligent devices has proliferated, manufacturers have struggled to use the big data generated across the plant floor and beyond in truly transformative ways.

In a pharmaceutical plant, a scalable analytics platform can ingest data from diverse data types — and help cut through the clutter by modeling data to find meaningful correlations that lead to new insights. Furthermore, predictive and prescriptive analytics can help. For example, batch process deviation management is critical in any pharmaceutical plant to maintain both product quality and regulatory compliance.

The latest analytics platforms can bring more clarity to root cause analysis by casting a wide net that extends beyond the process environment to data generated by all relevant IIoT devices and machines. In addition to pinpointing the cause of deviation based on historical batch records, analytics capabilities such as native anomaly detection can use historical data to improve quality monitoring in real time.

Native anomaly detection increases machine monitoring capabilities by automatically learning what normal behaviour is — and raising alerts when something is abnormal. Machine learning is just one way that advanced analytics platforms can help pharmaceutical companies maintain product quality and achieve the ever-allusive “golden batch” cycle after cycle.

Augmented Reality in Real Time

The benefits of connecting an enterprise’s IIoT applications go beyond providing complex analytics and insights on a single screen. Predictive analytics help to solve issues before they arise. Should the food processor enter a work order that involves a tank with a nearly faulty asset, the order would trigger further actions, prompting a maintenance user to resolve the issue as well as providing work instructions to guide the repair process.

Integrating with augmented reality (AR) technology also allows users to simplify their interaction with operations. Any user, such as the food processor’s maintenance engineer, receives instructions that are visualized with 3D animations.

Upon arriving at the tank, the engineer will see instructions specific to the situation, such as the asset with a potential issue and the steps they should take to fix it. Not only does this help keep the process running, but it also reduces the potential for error.

Combining accelerated IIoT application deployment, advanced analytics and AR puts the user in charge of innovating on the job as the individual systems barriers become almost invisible.

Electric Vehicles and IIoT

Environmentally friendly electric vehicles are predicted to dominate the automotive industry – by 2040 it is estimated that half of all new vehicle sales worldwide will be electric. IIoT technologies can help auto makers produce high quality electric vehicles quickly, affordably and with minimal risk.

Smart features and downloadable updates are making electric vehicles more like consumer-electronics products. These smarter, more connected vehicles require a smarter, more connected production approach. Many mature automakers already use connected operations, but often only in limited ways or across only some of their operations.

Deploying seamless connectivity and data sharing, as well as IIoT technologies, across your entire organization can help you improve visibility into vehicle production processes and help workers at every level make better and faster decisions.

For example, we have used smart machines to help teams create more efficient process workflows and more quickly identify the cause of stops for faster recoveries.   We have also used advanced analytics that monitor asset data over time to help companies predict where problems may occur, so their maintenance teams can prevent stops from occurring in the first place.

Rockwell Automation recently opened a new 8,000 square-foot Electric Vehicle (EV) Innovation Center  in San Jose, California. The center will provide live manufacturing demonstrations, hands-on trials utilizing new technology and events showcasing collaboration with industry experts and Rockwell Automation partners.

Utilizing augmented and virtual reality modeling, the EV Innovation Center provides automotive start-ups and established manufacturers an environment to learn new technologies and standards, enabling them to deliver electric vehicles to market faster, with less risk and at lower cost.

Batteries currently represent a third of the cost of an EV. As battery costs continue to fall, demand for EVs will rise, with up to 40 million new EV batteries needed annually to power new vehicles. This growth represents a tremendous opportunity for automotive battery manufacturers — but only if they are in position to take advantage of it.

Many manufacturers have been getting by with disparate and disconnected information systems running in the enterprise and across their facilities, but that simply won’t cut it for much longer. What has been a low-volume industry to date is poised to explode, with an exponential demand curve. In addition, as battery manufacturers build greenfield, giga-scale production plants to meet demand, they’re challenged to build for growth from the start.

The entire enterprise needs to be connected. If you are a battery maker, you need to automate your systems now to keep up with demand, grow your business and achieve a key part of the smart manufacturing strategy.

IIoT is Here, There and Everywhere  

Whether you are a car manufacturer, food and beverage producer, pharma, biotech or even cosmetic or personal goods manufacturer – IIoT can help you meet the requirements for product personalization, safety standards and track and trace requirements. It improves the quality of our day to day lives and helps drive productivity and profitability – a real game changer.

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