There is much discussion regarding Industry 4.0 – the concept covering an increasing use of automation, cyber-physical equipment and computerized systems for the acquisition and processing of data.
But what technologies are actually available to make this a reality?
As a leading equipment and services provider for the packaging business, we have a duty to help producers achieve all the benefits of Industry 4.0.
As such, together with Sidel, we have formulated a group program, which we have christened Agility 4.0. Complementing Industry 4.0 opportunities, while boosting them, it is designed to help packaging manufacturing plants become more connected, flexible and responsive and bring smart factories to life to create a world of greater choice and unique consumer experience driven by packaging mass customization and product diversity.
Producers Need to Adapt and Change
Today's consumer is becoming increasingly selective – demanding goods with greater individuality, variety and convenience. At the same time, distribution is looking for more customized delivery methods and increased responsiveness, largely driven by different purchasing behaviors and new retail models.
Faced with this growing pressure, producers must find new ways to improve line operations in terms of speed, efficiency, flexibility and versatility. They are looking to monitor equipment efficiency and control system performance to maximize uptime across the line. They also need to implement sustainability measures to lower the consumption of energy, raw materials and other resources, while minimizing costs.
Ultimately, it is about achieving increased line performance, whatever the product, while optimizing total cost of ownership (TCO). All of this is driving a transition from mass production to mass customization; but this transition must not compromise on performance criteria such overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), TCO and sustainability.
The ideal goal is the “extended factory”, allowing the producer to take full advantage of technologically advanced solutions for additional capacity and increased flexibility. In this way, more stock keeping units (SKUs) can be produced, without the need to raise the investment bar in terms of assets or labor force.
Sustainable Production and Optimized Energy Use
Energy consumption and carbon footprints are now central factors in purchasing decisions so eco-friendliness should be a core element of any program. The capability to produce smaller batches and be closer to consumer centers reduces the need to distribute stock over long distances, contributing to a more sustainable approach.
Energy consumption simulation tools can be used to audit existing installations or to assist in the design of new ones to enable producers to test a wide range of configurations, validate designs and optimize energy saving proposals.
Video, Audio and Augmented Reality
We have also seen great successes with remote video assistance services, which deploy video, audio and augmented reality technology to enable specialists to better understand issues with a production line through real time viewing from a remote location.
This provides real-time and active technical support for quick troubleshooting; reduced time to repair and faster production restart; and increased operational availability. The augmented reality then allows a full explanation of the problem and provides the assistance in how to resolve it, giving precise visual guidance while verbal instructions are given via the audio facility.
At Interpack 2017 we underlined our commitment to help producers embrace Industry 4.0 opportunities by demonstrating a portfolio completely based on our Agility 4.0 program. This portfolio included CareSelect™, a universal and modular shaped-bottle infeed system that fits into practically any robotic or traditional case packing or shrink-wrapping solution.
Leveraging the Rockwell Automation iTRAK intelligent track solution, CareSelect offers a revolutionary new way to group bottles, where the movers are only in contact with the bottle for 0.3 seconds – 20 times less than with a screw approach.
And we were delighted to be announced as the winner of the modular machine category at the inaugural Best Future Machine awards, hosted by Rockwell Automation at the show in Dusseldorf.