Industry 4.0 won’t be marked by the number of shiny toys you own

With my background in automation, engineering and energy infrastructure spanning over two decades, there is a current trend I see that having a larger impact on global manufacturing than any other advancements in the last 40 years. The industrial sector finds itself entering an exciting new phase of evolution, an evolution marked by the unlimited potential of smart manufacturing technologies enabled by IoT and supporting government and industry initiatives such as Industry 4.0.

In fact, a recent report commissioned by two of Australia’s leading Industry Growth Centres has calculated that the economic impact of Industry 4.0 will create 80,000 new jobs and more than $74 billion in economic value.

At this year’s TechEd Conference, our customers and partners had the benefit of seeing the power of Industry 4.0 in full effect. TechEd is Rockwell Automation’s annual automation conference, bringing together the top minds in the industry to demonstrate cutting-edge technology that will dramatically reshape Australia’s public, commercial and industrial sectors.

The event gave a fascinating insight into Rockwell’s view of the next decade and the role automation will play in evolving the manufacturing space. But amidst all this excitement, I couldn’t help but notice an ongoing misconception surrounding Industry 4.0 and successful business digitisation.

Despite a clear interest and even experimentation with emerging technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) diagnostics and Virtual Reality (VR) training, we’re still not seeing the level of full-scale roll outs of IoT technologies in the industrial sector that we see in other parts of the world.

A culprit for this is that the local market has a strong tendency to move towards the shiniest object, examples like AR or VR, without evaluating its necessity to the business or how to effectively implement such a technology. In many instances, solutions with clear use cases such as deploying analytics addressing predictive maintenance and asset management productivity improvement, that bring with them obvious immediate value are clear missed opportunities. They don’t have the same appeal as the cool toys like AR and VR and hence don’t get the same focus and funding

The reality is that you need to know the use case you’re trying to solve for a product deployment to be effective. Recent research from LNS Research suggested 16 per cent of global businesses have gone into deployed systems whereas a substantially higher number of business are stuck at a pilot implementation stage. This is backed up by the World Economic Forum who believe most businesses are stuck in “pilot purgatory”. The interest is there, but nobodies committing to rolling out across their business because they haven’t clearly quantified the return on investment.

As an example, If you have a workplace defined by low incident rates and a knowledgeable workforce, there’s potentially not a lot of benefit in investing in a fully equipped virtual training environment. Industry 4.0 should be dictated by need, not the number of shiny toys you own. In my experience many struggle with what the true payback is. What the return of investment is. There are so many avenues to take, business leaders can easily find themselves jumping between what’s here now and what will emerge over the next four to five years with no rhyme or reason.

It can be difficult to quantify the return on investment and get the funding required, and that’s why I think the short-term benefit is likely in proven existing use cases that can now be deployed more quickly and cost effectively with better outcomes by using newer IoT platforms and solutions. Analytics examples such as preventative maintenance and asset optimisation solutions that help remove bottlenecks in your production addressing low hanging fruit that likely doesn’t need a lot of capital investment are prime examples of easy to justify investments

This is also not to say Australia is a laggard. In many industries including food and beverage as well as mining, Australia has a strong leadership position in the adoption of emerging technologies In my experience, some of the best practices and technology adoption can be found at a local level.

The key is simply to walk and not run into the many solutions and products attached to industry 4.0. Think about what the business problem is before you rush headfirst into trying the cool new toys available. Develop the stakeholder trust and technical ecosystem with quick wins around proven use cases, do the basics well and build the business from within that.

An intuitive shift towards greater automation

Automation and remote operations are on the move. Nowhere was this more clear than at our recent Rockwell Automation On The Move – a unique event where from 3-4 March we saw 119 customers attend 15 breakout sessions in Auckland, New Zealand, engaging with new trends, new technology and each other.

It was truly a hands-on experience where customers apply the latest automation and remote operations technology to a business problem, with the support of an experienced technician, working along with their team. It was a chance to demystify Industry 4.0 and the reality of what automation and IT/OT convergence can mean for businesses – making it real for customers.

Increased demand for automation
This is critical and becoming more important with each passing day. Businesses want to get to market quicker. They want to know how they can leverage data better to improve productivity and sustainability.

Then there’s the challenge of accelerating learning. Many knowledgeable veterans will retire. At the same time, younger generations change jobs more readily and businesses are struggling to find people who want to live and work in harsh or remote conditions.

Coronavirus is encouraging some companies to explore increased automation solutions and remote operations due to the challenges posed to business operations. A lot of customers, partners and engineers are unable to go onto site right now. I expect this to change the way we think about how we can run plants effectively without people onsite.

Many challenges aren’t different – but the technology is
While COVID-19 may be the latest and greatest threat, many of the challenges businesses face today are no different to 20 years ago. Businesses want to know how to get information to decision makers in a timely way, particularly when many IT systems do not interface easily with one another.

It was hard to correlate or find manufacturing trends. There was too much data that took too much time to retrieve and was not real-time. We built custom, costly and complicated one-sided solutions.

With the arrival of Industry 4.0, the tech has accelerated, and we can do things differently. Digitalisation is the next quantum leap in terms of trying to get more done with your systems.

The convergence of IT and OT can help us make sense of as much data as is available and process it in a timely way. Machine learning can assist with automation and spotting trends, and augmented reality (AR) can support accelerated learning, remote training and enhanced operator experience.

AR has pass through the hype phase and is now part of the mainstream. It’s allowing the overlay of the digital and the physical worlds. This includes both being able to visualise and move around a machine that isn’t physically there and being able to overlay a physical machine with an AR visualisation, which can support training and maintenance.

Behind this shift lies the fact that sensors have come down in price, computing power has gone through the roof, latency has reduced, cloud computing has now become pervasive in our lives and cybersecurity has become top of mind.

Whereas in the past we saw that many IT projects tended not to fail because of tech but because of issues with adoption and understanding, usability and user experience are now becoming a primary objective of many solutions – and that will allow more successful projects. A lot of the tech is becoming configurable and open.

What this means is that businesses can now make sense of as much data that is available and process it in real-time to make decisions that can change the way a business is run, instead of waiting until it’s too late. It means more efficient maintenance and training. This is reducing downtime, while increasing productivity, agility and speed to market.

Getting started
Technology may have become increasingly intuitive but getting started isn’t always as easy. When getting beginning your journey towards Industry 4.0, consider the following: what data you want to connect, how you can make solutions repeatable, use machine learning or predictive analytics to analyse trends and retrieve insights, how you will deliver relevant insights to those who need them in a consumable way, and what happens when you do spot something unusual or interesting.

Try to strike the right balance between off-the-shelf and customised solutions. Prioritise solutions that are repeatable from an infrastructure perspective but which offers an over the top user experience fits what you need.

Platforms such as Rockwell Automation’s Factory Talk Innovation Suite™, which has PTC technology inside, includes specific applications around remote monitoring, creating digital twins with AR/VR, and an IoT platform that extends to Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and predictive maintenance to support productivity, sustainability and integrated supply chain solutions.

These extensible platforms allow you to tap into a range of in-built applications relevant to your needs today – and position you to add in those which might become useful down the line.

Then get started. Don’t worry about gold plating it from the start. See what works and what doesn’t. Find a balance. Iterate. With the help of this remarkable technology we can get through this latest crisis and come out stronger on the other side.

A smart flexible approach to automation

A revolution is like a wave. It builds over time and gains continuous energy before finally reaching the shore. Some might go as far as to liken Industry 4.0 to a tsunami rather than a wave; it started off slowly since its inception in 2011 but has since then gained massive momentum, disrupting the industry as we know it.

While the pros far outweigh the cons, the concept has given way to terms like the Internet of Things (IoT), smart sensors, cloud analytics and more, thereby striking uncertainty into the hearts of manufacturing leaders.

For SMC Corporation, certainty comes by embodying a restrained approach to Industry 4.0. The Japanese head quartered company follows the management culture of investing in proven technologies rather than jumping into the unknown.

Today, SMC offers a full suite of industrial automation solutions ranging from pneumatic and electric actuators to fluid control products and airline equipment, as well as sensors and switches.

Where it All Began
Dr Henning Kagermann, Dr Wolfgang Wahlster and Dr Wolf-Dieter Lucas delivered a speech at Hannover Fair in Germany in April 2011 which would have great impact on the industry in years to come. For these three scientists there was little doubt that the future was here, and that it was digital. They were quoted saying: ‘The digital finishing of production plants and industrial products through to everyday products with integrated memory and communication capabilities, radio sensors, embedded actuators and intelligence software systems, creates a bridge between virtual ‘cyber space’ and the real world. This will be achieved through the synchronisation of digital models and the physical reality.’

The Challenges Faced
Jozef Ceh, digital transformation and Industry 4.0 manager at SMC Corporation ANZ said that factories now have more sensors, more data and more connected devices than ever before yet so many people still battle to understand Industry 4.0’s true value.

SMC has identified four common challenges faced by our customers. These are pertinent across the globe and are split into four categories, namely: physical challenges, time and value challenges, executive challenges and human challenges.”

Physical challenges: These typically revolve around the need to reduce the size of products, its weight and the consumption of energy in the production process. These improvements have the added benefit of reducing the demand on compressed air systems.

Time and value challenges: These include the need to increase productivity and throughput. Having more workers carry out low-skilled repetitive tasks instead of value-added tasks should be of concern to all companies. Here, customers express the need for more intelligence in their plants.

Executive challenges: This refers to managers and leaders’ ability to make decisions based on the information available to them. Being able to refer to real-time data instead of quarterly management reports proves to more valuable in ensuring effective decision making.

Human challenges: This relates to technology skills shortages – something that has created a discrepancy between the skills that industry needs and the skills that new graduates possess. Additional factors to consider is the usability of equipment and software.

Introducing Smart Flexibility
SMC’s answer to the hype around Industry 4.0 is to take a practical approach by helping its customers to derive real value from their digitisation journey. “This approach is known as Smart Flexibility.  It encompasses flexibility in industrial networking, flexibility in e-maintenance, flexibility in machine adjustments and smart energy efficiency,” said Ceh.

SMC’s technological innovations span everything from air leak-detection systems and speed controllers to wireless fieldbus systems and actuator position sensors. 

Digital Journeys around the World
Tapping into trends from around the world, SMC has highlighted several key regions where they have been active in helping customers embrace change. They share their digital journeys with the world:

Eastern Europe: The automotive industry is a key focus area for Central and Eastern Europe. Here, we’re seeing demand for increased accuracy and throughput. Welding cell applications and Hall Installation Plate (HIP) systems are used to distribute various media, including cooling water at low and high pressures. It’s important to monitor these variables – if the cooling water is too hot, or the flow is insufficient, the quality of the welding spot won’t meet the required standard.

A key solution to this is SMC’s wireless fieldbus which eliminates the need for cabling. In cramped and tight spaces, especially on robotic arms, it can be difficult to run cabling to electric actuators or sensors located on the grippers at the end of the robot arm. Doing so not only limits movement but it causes wear and eventual failure of the cabling. By using a wireless system, the customer can collect sensor data wirelessly while reducing complexity.

Italy: Most of the SMC customers in this region are industrial original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – they’re generally small to medium businesses operating in the automotive, packaging, plastics, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and machine tool sectors. Because customers export over 75 per cent of their goods outside Italy, one of the biggest challenges they face is competing in a global market.

SMC has overcome this issue by offering pneumatic and electrical actuation systems that can overcome variability in many complex applications. What’s more, they’ve developed sensors that allow this functionality to be applied to existing pneumatic systems, giving us even greater control of this previous analogue technology.

Germany: Climate control is a big focus in the German market and places demand on product categories such as climate control solutions, chillers and pneumatic as well as electric actuation components.

SMC has setup demonstration labs to showcase the latest technologies. These cover everything from predictive maintenance and IO-Link connectivity to condition monitoring and intelligent software. While it is true that many of these technologies have been around in one form or another for the past 20 years, it’s important that  people are educated on the digital benefits it offers.

To conclude, Jozef says: “We strongly urge customers not to change for the sake of changing but rather to adopt a philosophy of flexibility and map out a transformation journey. Smart Flexibility is designed to make the most of technological innovation in a way that delivers practical results to our customers. We take a flexible approach to our customers’ digital journey.”

Neousys’ IGT-30 Series ARM-based Industrial IoT gateway

Backplane Systems Technology has released Neousys’ IGT-30 series, TI Sitara AM3352 ARM-based Industrial IoT gateway with dual LAN and pre-installed Debian.

Neousys’ IGT-30 series, equipped with the AM3352 from Texas Instrument’s Sitara AM335x family, is an ARM-based Box PC designed for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) gateways and Industry 4.0 applications. The IGT-30 series is supplied as a ready system preinstalled with Debian and in compliance with common industrial certifications such as CE/FCC, shock and vibration. It has a power input range of 10 to 25 V DC and an operating temperature from -25°C to 70°C to ensure the IGT-30 continues to function under harsh industrial conditions.

The IGT-30 series supports PoE Powered Device (PD) mode meaning it can be powered by a LAN cable from a PoE Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE), and at the same time transfer data via this cable. It has I/Os that are applicable to a range of industrial grade sensors. It features one USB2.0 port, two 10/100M LAN ports, one configurable COM port (RS-232/422/485) and an optional CAN bus port.

In addition to the ports mentioned, there are 8 built-in isolated digital input channels that accept discrete signals from various sensors or buttons/ switches. There are also two built-in isolated digital output channels to control actuators and indicators.

Communication wise, the IGT-30 series has a mini PCIe slot and a USIM holder allowing it to transmit acquired data and system status via 3G, 4G or WiFi (mini PCIe WiFi module). There is an opening on top of IGT-30 Series for users to mount the SMA connector of the wireless module. In terms of storage, the IGT-30 Series has dual microSDHC slots, one internal and one external.

This design allows users to separate the system and user data which can expedite in OS deployment for mass production. The IGT-30 Series provides six LED indicators and two function buttons that can be programmed by users. The function buttons can act as controls for the IGT-30 Series and exclude the need for external input devices, such as keyboard or mouse.

Features are:

  • Industrial grade ARM-based system with pre-installed Debian.
  • AWS Device Qualification Program (DQP) certified.
  • Field-ready isolated DI/O and RS-232/422/485.
  • 10 to 25V wide-range DC input and 802.3at PoE+ PD.
  • -25°C to 70°C wide temperature operation.

Powering the future of farming

In times past, farmers were at the mercy of the elements to determine a successful yield of crops. As the global population grows and consumer preferences evolve, today’s modern farmer must also consider the scarcity of natural resources, the threat of climate change and the growing problem of food waste.

The oldest human industry has undergone a transformation like no other. The 1800s saw the use of chemical fertilizers, while farmers began to plan their work using satellites in the late 1900s. Today, the world needs to produce more food against a background of climate change, which is adversely affecting crop yields and encouraging crop diseases. So, how can we produce 70 per cent more food to meet the needs of a growing population, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Smart farming offers a solution.

Using remote sensors to avoid costly manual monitoring, informed decisions can be made using real time data. This allows farmers to manage their inputs, such as water and animal feeds, more effectively to increase yields while maintaining minimal labor costs.

READ MORE: Digitisation makes for more productive and sustainable farming

In the last few decades we’ve seen the rise of indoor urbanised farming, the use of aquaponic farming, and a vast departure from the traditional field cattle farming of old. The Third Agricultural Revolution, which we are arguably in the midst of, is based upon IT solutions, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, sensors, and drones.

The use of robotics for repetitive tasks is a trend across many industries. In farming, farmbots are employed to perform once laborious manual tasks including seeding, planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. Farmdrones are also utilized for monitoring purposes and data on plant health and soil conditions are fed back into the system.

When making significant upgrades to a system, power quality issues must be addressed. Although robotic systems and sensor networks have practical benefits, they often use electrical and electronic components that can introduce harmonic currents into electrical networks. If the harmonic levels in an electrical system are too high, this can cause load failure. To mitigate against power failure and unplanned downtime, ABB’s capacitors and filters product portfolio offers a range of solutions.

In particular, the ABB PQF active filters tackle the problems caused by harmonic currents, load unbalance and reactive power demand, while offering a host of system benefits in low voltage networks. Compliance with the strictest power quality regulations is not something that farmers should overlook. ABB’s solutions are rigorously tested to ensure filtering efficiency and system reliability, so that smart farms can operate with uninterrupted systems for maximum productivity.

Smart farming has the power to increase yield and efficiency, raising overall productivity of the supply chain without requiring significantly more land investment. With this, farmers are able to reliably and sustainably produce yields to maintain the growing global population, without being at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable climates.

To discover ABB’s wide range of high, medium and low voltage capacitors and filters, visit their product area of the website and explore how to address power considerations that arise through smart farming

APS eyes long-term partnerships as key to help industry move forward

APS was born on March 1st, 2018, a time seen by the company as when it provided industry with a new choice by consolidating what can at times be a fragmented market. It brought a range of high-visibility brands in the industrial low- and medium-voltage electrical and automation space under one roof.

Headed by industry leader Lloyd Thomas (chairman – APS Group) and David Hegarty (managing director – APS Industrial), APS came into being when two companies were acquired – Ramelec and HiTech Control Systems. Thomas and his board then quickly set about putting national distribution deals in place with highly rated global manufacturers such as Siemens, Rittal and Weidmüller.

Siemens has a leading global market share, but less so in Australia. It was the apple in Thomas’s eye when he thought about putting APS together.

Building on that, APS then signed national distribution deals with a range of other German companies including the aforementioned Rittal and Weidmüller. Other brands under its umbrella include KATKO and Epcos (TDK). In Hegarty’s words, APS has become a “one-stop shop for industrial automation and power distribution needs”. As if to reiterate the point, Hegarty is also clear on what APS has to offer the market.

READ MORE: APS Industrial strengthens commitment to Queensland with branch relocation

“The advantage we bring to local customers is that not only do we sell quality products but the breadth of our portfolio is so impressive,” he said. “Our global manufacturing partners produce an incredible number of products and that’s what we give the local market access to. We are giving consumers a large choice in one place.”

APS is here for the long game, and doesn’t consider itself an overnight success, despite its rapid rise in the industrial electrical space, said Hegarty. He also knows the direction the company is heading is the right one. He feels that the sooner the industry can appreciate the benefits of Industry 4.0 and commence their digital journey, the better for all companies participating in the Australian industrial ecosystem.

“I was at the Siemens Digitalise 2019 in Brisbane, and it is clear a key challenge that the industry is going to face is getting started on their digitisation journey,” he said. “There are already early adopters paving the way, and there are going to be more examples of this over the next six months where companies are willing to take a step from what they are currently doing manufacturing, product and process wise. They’ll say, ‘we’re on the cusp of something big here and we are going to take these first steps to go down the path of digitisation and are ready to commence our journey. It takes courage, but we are going to do it because this is how we will survive and thrive. We have to’.”

Siemens invest billions of euros globally on research and development and the whole idea of Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing, said Hegarty. They are leading the way and that APS can exclusively help bring this to Australia is a unique point of difference for him.

“Take a brand like Siemens – when all of your products are from the same manufacturer you get unrivalled communication and integration capability – power distribution, automation, motor control – everything comes from the same manufacturer and are all connected,” he said. “Nobody else can offer this. In terms of what industries that suits, manufacturing is obviously a big one, as well as mining and utilities who are the ultimate beneficiaries of this performance and data visibility. Switchboard builders can see the benefits, as well as wholesalers and contractors. For the end user, it ultimately means they can manufacture more efficiently, have less downtime, and experience gains across their operation that are currently unattainable. Our manufacturing partners are also at the pointy end of Industry 4.0. This should provide the local market with a lot of faith in terms of what we can offer and help them achieve.”

Hegarty also said that APS will now give local manufacturers more of a choice when it comes to industrial, electrical and automation gear. He knows it will take time for consumers to get to know the company, but is confident that what they have to offer is something unique.

“We want to be in the conversation and we want the industry to understand the full benefits of Industry 4.0,” Hegarty said. “The suite of products, the communication abilities of digitisation technology are what are important and we want to be a trusted partner in that space. Within the next few years we will have proven our offerings to industry, and they will consider us a trusted advisor and partner.”

APS is seen as a relatively new player in the market, but its already having an impact on the industry. This is proven by not only the increase of staff since inception (it has almost tripled), but also by the amount of investment it has put into bricks and motor.

“In September 2018, we moved to a brand-new national distribution centre in Melbourne,” said Hegarty. “And that allowed us to dramatically increase our stock holdings and invest in expanding our team. In August this year, our Queensland office also moved into a new facility, to do the same.”

Although still only young in terms of being in existence, it is the experience it has behind it at management level that will make APS a long-term player in what is an increasingly competitive market.

Challenges and opportunities of Industry 4.0 the focus of AUSPACK conference second day

Expert insights on how companies can get on board the fourth industrial revolution were among the highlights of the second day of the AUSPACK 2019 conference being held in Melbourne this week.

According to John Broadbent, founder of Realise Potential, businesses which are slow to adopt Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology will risk being left behind.

Broadbent told the audience that early adopters of this technology will find themselves at a significant advantage once the rest of the industry catches up, while those who delay their uptake will struggle to keep with the pack.

“The longer you kick the can down the road, the bigger the gap becomes,” he said.

According to Broadbent, the nine main use cases for Industry 4.0 and IIoT technology are asset tracking, automation, predictive maintenance, safety and security, smart buildings, customer engagement, data intelligence, product-as-a-service, and agile design processes.

The utility of properly gathering and analysing business data is huge, says Broadbent, and can save businesses time and money,

“How would you feel about sitting in your car with no dashboard, windscreen blacked out, rear view is where you were thirty days ago, and the managing director is in the passenger seat asking are we there yet? You wouldn’t drive like that, but people run their businesses like that all the time,” he said.

Broadbent later facilitated a panel comprising Paul Barber of Lighthouse Systems, Michael Parrington of Pact Group, Richard Roberts of the Open IIoT industry group, and Alan Spreckley from ABB, to discuss practical implementation of Industry 4.0 systems.

Spreckley said one major barrier to adoption of Industry 4.0 is change-aversion in businesses.

“People in general have a resistance to change. They feel too comfortable with where they are and what they have,” said Spreckley.

Broadbent argued that there is never a “right” or “wrong” time to invest, and that businesses need to get on board and constantly update themselves.

“The right time for continuous improvement is always,” said Broadbent. “It doesn’t matter when you’re doing well or not doing well.”

According to Roberts, one crucial early step in embarking on an Industry 4.0 project is forming partnerships, either internal or external, to ensure your business has the skills needed to operate the new technology.

“If you don’t have that expertise, you can look to bring it in, or you can seek out other experts in the area,” said Roberts.

Parrington agreed, saying seeking external help is one way Pact has tried to overcome the skills gap.

“We try to understand what we don’t know, and where we’re not skilled we bring people in,” said Parrington.

According to the next speaker, Peter Hern from Universal Robots, while Industry 4.0 is connecting machines through the utilisation of data and internet connectivity, Industry 5.0 will involve humans and machines working collaboratively.

Hern pointed towards the “cobots”, or collaborative robots, which are produced by his company, as emerging examples of Industry 5.0 practices. Hern emphasised that the developments in automation and robotics shouldn’t lead to fears that human workers employed in manufacturing will be replaced. On the contrary, providing robotic helpers can make existing jobs more productive, safe and efficient.

“What we find is that the human-robot collaboration is actually 85 per cent more productive than humans or robots alone,” he said. “It’s not about replacing human employees – it’s about helping them to do their jobs and stay involved in the process.”

Cobots that are specifically designed to work alongside humans, and according to Hern, can offer benefits such as increased productivity, lower costs, improving quality, boosting innovation, competitive advantage, and reshoring of manufacturing. They also free up human workers from repetitive, dull, dangerous or mundane tasks to focus on jobs that can bring more value to the company.

“Those who are slow to respond risk losing business to others who will embrace the future of manufacturing,” warned Hern.

Why the biggest dairy exporter in the world had to embrace the IoT

Let’s look at the impressive stats – 10,000 farmers, 1600 tanker drivers, around 500 milk tankers, 22,000 global staff, , 22 billion litres of milk processed every year, $17 billion in revenue. This is what it means to be the biggest dairy exporter in the world, according to Fonterra’s Infrastructure and Global IS engagement manager, Dave McPherson.

New Zealand-based Fonterra is a dairy co-operative born in 2001 when the country’s two biggest co-ops – Kiwi Co-operative Dairies and New Zealand Dairy Group – merged with the statutory body, the New Zealand Dairy Board.

It is the largest company in New Zealand in terms of economic impact, and produces about 20 per cent or the world’s dairy exports. It’s size gives it many benefits – economies of scale, employment, high turnover, and an avenue to solidify New Zealand’s place as a country that produces high-quality products for local and overseas consumption.

But being as big as it is also introduces a few issues. Not least of which are trying to find better ways to streamline production processes, save on power, and one of the biggest costs – maintenance of the company’s plant, infrastructure and tanker fleet. A mere three years ago, McPherson attended the first Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit in Sydney knowing very little about the Internet of Things (IoT) or Industry 4.0. Now, 36 months later, not only did he give a 40-minute speech on the subject at the latest summit, but the company has embraced the concept at so many different levels – it is a walking advertisement for digitising a business.

“When I attended the first conference back in 2017, I was trying to get a handle on all the hype around IIoT and Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing – all these buzz words that were relatively new to us and we were trying to get a handle on where we could drive some value from the stuff,” he said. “In particular, what we were really trying to find were people that were doing stuff in this space currently and how we can leverage their learnings to speed up our journey.”

When he came to the first summit, he knew almost straight away that Fonterra could embrace the concepts and save itself a lot of money. It was a matter of trying to find out what they could do and how they could implement processes into what they were doing. It didn’t take long.

“I have plenty of examples across our supply chain where we are using new IoT.,” he said. “What I call new IoT is gear supplied by third-party vendors, who are providing us low-cost, battery-powered solutions, which are connected by proprietary networks like SigFox or LoRa, rather than traditional wireless networks. Alternatively, we are dealing with new vendors who are traditionally not in our supply chain.”

Being a co-operative, the company’s shareholders are the dairy farmers themselves. And it hasn’t taken long for those earning their living off the land to take on board some of the technologies brought about by the IoT. It does not cost farmers an arm and leg to do so, according to McPherson.

“There is a huge increase in availability of these low-cost devices, with new vendors coming to market all the time. It has given us a lot of opportunities to grow in this area,” he said. “On the farm we are seeing a rapid growth in the adoption of IoT sensors. Most of this is to do with compliance and sustainability as well as productivity and animal health and welfare. It all starts at the farms. Farmers, like a lot of industries today, are having to be a lot more compliant from a sustainability perspective – wastewater, effluent – everything we manage or farm needs to be measured or monitored. All water usage on farms has to be measured, which is increasingly being measured by IoT sensors and sent directly to councils.”

A big issue on all farms is the treatment of the aforementioned wastewater and effluent. Cow herds produce a lot of both and New Zealand has a lot of regulations when it comes to how these by-products are monitored and treated. IoT-enabled devices offer the perfect solution on the ground.

“One of the more interesting projects we have done recently is wastewater management,” said McPherson. “We own the farms around most of our factories and that is for the purpose of getting rid of our wastewater. We’re monitored by councils about how we manage wastewater and keep it out of the waterways. We set up a project whereby we used irrigators that were pulled out manually across the field. When [the irrigators] are pulled out we have to be sure that they are not getting too close to waterways to make sure the wastewater doesn’t go where it is not supposed to go. It got to a point where one of our plants nearly got shut down because we weren’t doing a good enough job of it.

“We deployed GPS tracking on the irrigators, and, coupled with weather information, wind speed and wind direction, the pumps that control the irrigators would be automatically shut down quickly if there was a possibility the wastewater could spray into the waterways.

“We came up with a very cost-effective solution by using new IoT sensors from a company we had never dealt with before. They came up with a real robust solution, which we implemented very quickly”

Then there is the milk itself. The temperature of milk is regulated by the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries for the dairy industry. Farmers need to get the milk down to Ten degrees Celsius within four hours of starting to milk the cows and Six degrees within two hours of completion of milking. The longer the milking takes, the longer it takes to cool, which then shortens the window Fonterra has to pick it up from the farm gate. With some new sensors, it is possible to measure the temperature in real time in the farm-based vats where the milk is initially stored.

“That information along with the volume and the fact that the agitators are stirring that milk will come back to us in real time,” said McPherson. “[This is] a lot of data pinging off 10,500 vats every five minutes, but it gives us a real-time picture that may even potentially stop us picking up milk that we otherwise wouldn’t want, and provides huge efficiency gains in optimising the loading of our tankers knowing exactly how much milk is at each farm – prior to collection”

But it still needs to be kept cool when it is being transported. Fonterra put some sensors on the tankers that came back with results that they didn’t expect.

“Our tankers are not refrigerated and our storage silos at factories are not refrigerated. It is critical that we try and get that milk temperature down on the farm as soon as possible and keep it there before it gets processed. Where we measured the temperature in transit we used these little sensors which were very cheap,” he said. “We measured all different points of the tankers. The top, where we thought there would be the most impact from a heating perspective with regards to the sun. It turned out it was the heat coming up from the road – it was the bottom of the barrels that were getting the most heat between the pipework and the cab and the barrel and the truck.

“Once we found these hots spots, we worked with a couple of companies on coatings we could put on the tankers to eliminate the heat. We’ve had about six different coats sprayed onto a number of tankers and using sensors we are starting to see some great benefits, which has led to zero increases in temperatures,” said McPherson.

Some farmers are even going one step further by monitoring the cows with wearable sensors. “[Farmers] can tell when [the cows] are drinking or eating, how long they are spending standing up eating,” he said. “It also tracks their temperature, which will give warning signs of when the cows are getting sick – all of these things affect productivity for the farmers.”

One of the biggest expenses of Fonterra is running its tanker fleet. Maintenance of the fleet is a cost that affects the bottom line, but is something that can be addressed thanks to IoT devices.

“Simple telematics will tell you how to reduce your maintenance costs of your fleet – monitoring things like engine temperature, revs and brake wear,” said McPherson. “But we can also monitor the drivers and the wear and tear caused by their driving. When the system was first installed, we had 1500 drivers in the fleet and they start out with 100 per cent score at the beginning of the day. Depending on how they drive the trucks, they would lose points. Initially they were getting scores around the 92 per cent mark, but we are now at 99.7 percent. With a 500-odd fleet of tankers, you can understand there are some big savings in our fleet maintenance costs.”

And how did the drivers feel about being monitored. Doesn’t it have a tinge of Big Brother about it?

We had a few challenges in that area, but generally they got it. They got why we were doing it, and have got on board as they take a lot of pride in their job and are driving professionals.”

One thing the company has found – as is a common theme among those taking on board IoT devices – is the amount of data that is created. At the device layer in their NZ Manufacturing plants alone, the company pulls about 430,000 time series data tags into its PLCs in real time. Once that data is combined with set points and other values of the PLC, that accounts for about 40-million-time series data tags. It uses around 250,000 of them, but, going forward, it is expecting that will grow to four million data points that it will be tracking and storing.

A lot of companies are also looking at automated condition monitoring, otherwise known as predictive maintenance, as it relates to the IoT. Fonterra spends millions of dollars a year on maintenance of its manufacturing plants. Given the seasonal nature of its business it has a 100 per cent of the company’s assets running at 100 per cent of the time for a couple of months a year at peak. Then it becomes less intensive.

“Our maintenance programme is usually done in winter and we pull every pump, motor and valve and replace bearings just because we’ve done it for years,” said McPherson. “With the IoT sensors, we should be able to save a lot of money by finding out if we actually need to do it in the first place. For us, to be able to predict the failure and then allow downtime in our plants to do the maintenance means we don’t have the overhead of a huge number of people working across our manufacturing facilities in the off-season.”

Other areas where the IoT is making an impact is in the supply chain and dry storage. Again, temperatures have to be measured in the storage areas, and with New Zealand summers becoming hotter, it is increasingly becoming an issue. The company also has small magnetic devices that are fitted in the hinge of containers. When it is closed and turned on it is sending out GPS coordinates of the location of the container, temperature inside the container, humidity and whether there is light getting into the containers.

“You get real-time alerts when these containers are being opened somewhere along the supply chain,” said McPherson. “Sometimes along the customs borders. Sometimes when we don’t really want them to be by someone who has stolen a container. Sometimes, we’ll get a customer complaint when it turns up damaged. These sorts of devices are allowing us to track issues in the supply chain where these things might happen.”

The company recently did 200 trials of a random number of containers going to various places around the world. The containers were pinging out data giving locations and other information that was captured at the same time. It’s helped Fonterra identify issues that were going on that it otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

“For example, we’ve had containers sitting in Chicago in the winter time in -9 degrees and customers have complained about what that has done to the product,” said McPherson. “Other scenarios where we’ve had damage to containers or pallets where they have opened it up and bags have burst or the pallets are damaged and customer complaints have come through quite regularly. That is a great little device that gave us a head’s up when there was a problem.”

Fonterra is an example of a company that less than three years ago, had hardly heard about the IoT, or what it would mean for its business. Now, the IoT has become part of its everyday life of doing business. And what of the future?

“Increasingly the challenge for us now, and a lot of companies, will be across the supply chain where you are pulling data through these IoT sensors to these third-party cloud solutions,” said McPherson. “The real challenge will be how we integrate it back into our systems.”

And what is McPherson’s final word on the IoT and what it means for doing business?

“A lot of this is around changing business processes, taking people on the journey, getting them to understand the reason why traceability is important,” he said. “A lot of people think it is a Big Brother thing. In reality, it is just the future of what we have to do with this traceability across our food chain and that, in the long run, is a good thing.”

 

SMC Pneumatics explains benefits of getting on board with Industry 4.0

Japanese-based SMC Pneumatics knew that in order to future-proof its business it needed to get on-board with Industry 4.0 especially with the push towards automation.

“Five years ago, the managing director of SMC brought me in to reposition the business post the mining industry moving from greenfield to brownfield,” said SMC Pneumatics’ Australian and New Zealand director of sales and marketing James McKew.

“We needed to move from a capital investment phase to a maintenance repair and overhaul phase. We saw the mining boom come off quite considerably until about late last year. What I don’t think SMC contemplated was the car industry going away so quickly in Australia,” he said.

Luckily for McKew and SMC Australia and New Zealand, the route a Japanese-based company takes differs from that of a traditional western industrial enterprise. It is this support and direction that McKew sees as the starting point for the growth the company has seen.

READ: SMC to showcase its new Industry 4.0 technologies at Foodtech Packtech New Zealand

“In hindsight, it was quite exciting because the leadership in Japan, fundamentally our founder, said ‘go back to Australia, get your team together and tell me what you need to reposition the company so it stays on a growth trajectory’, as opposed to the alternative,” said McKew. “The western philosophy would have been, ‘well your major market is going down, make sure you resize your business and make it profitable’. The Japanese philosophy was, ‘you tell us the investments you require to target and access new markets and based on your representations we’ll look at making those investments’. So we did.”

And has there been a pay off? Absolutely, said McKew. While the mining industry was off the boil, SMC aggressively targeted those businesses from the OEM and end user side with the multi-site operators. Its market share over the past three years has gone from the low 40s, percentage-wise, to 51 per cent. And it is in growth in every single market in Australian and NZ. The last two-year financial results for SMC have been the best in a decade, according to McKew. The company is now on a trajectory to be the biggest it has ever been in the industry.

Which brings us back to Industry 4.0, smart factories and making sure that a company is future-proofed when building new plant, machinery and the automation aspects.

“I think educating people is what makes automation an easy sell,” said McKew. “I think everybody in manufacturing – ourselves included – is tasked with asking themselves ‘how will our future look and what technology do we need to drive it?’. You are future proofing. We also need to talk about the benefit of big data and being able to intimately understand our businesses at a granular level. So the question is asked – how can we chart our future based on those two things with massive improvements in efficiencies and substantial improvements in understanding things at a granular level? We look at the different pieces in our business and how they align with the best possible operation result.”

This brings us to the next aspect of Industry 4.0 that has been mentioned and really gets McKew animated. Big data.

“When going down the big data path it is being able to understand intimately – from a data capture perspective –  what your employees in the field are doing,” he said. “How does that correlate to a fantastic result? By capturing the data and analysing its correlation to results, you can get extraordinary performances from your people in field service or field selling.

“I think big data support in manufacturing is going to lead to a rejuvenation of the sector. When you look at the investments being made in the advanced manufacturing sector, I think there is finally a light that has gone on in government that says manufacturing creates more value through supply chain than just about any other industry including financial services.

“The growth in manufacturing is economically sound. If you look at the investment that the federal government has put behind the advanced manufacturing growth sector initiative, and the fact they are rolling their sleeves up and actively wanting to promote manufacturing, it is showing everyone where it creates value.”

McKew is also optimistic about the traditional manufacturing and primary industries within Australia, some of which have struggled over the past few years. He believes that Australia has to play to its natural resources. The sector has to acknowledge that food is just as much a part of this as minerals are.

“I even think that the current conversation around the ban of live exports is a positive for Australia,” he said. “The ban is good for Australian manufacturers in that, in my opinion, it will result in jobs for Australians in Australia.”

Speaking of jobs, doesn’t all this talk of Industry 4.0, robotics, automation and a slew of modern manufacturing processes mean less jobs for the traditional Australian working man and woman?

“A protein processing plant can’t run with lights out,” said McKew. “You still need people, so everything is not fully automated. It’s around how you employ people and those people – particularly in automated plants – are being paid better rates because they are in a more sophisticated role.    What I’m talking about is initially opening and expanding plant.”

McKew is also optimistic about the next few years for the Australian manufacturing sector. He believes Australian industry needs to be more aggressive, and not towards the low-cost labour markets in South-East Asia, but against more traditional industry rivals.

“I am very positive for the next two to three-year outlook. You’ve got to formulate your strategies properly,” he said. “They’re not Disneyland, but they’re not Luna Park either.  You have to be realistic about how far out you can look. We are expecting positive momentum in the manufacturing sector, especially the food, robotics, mineral processing, building products and aggregate. What we are also seeing a lot of is automation in large warehouses. I think for Australia there is an opportunity there because at the moment, a lot of that technology is coming straight in from Germany. There is no reason that Australian automation companies cannot deliver those solutions. Designed, built and delivered in Australia and New Zealand. Germany is a high-cost country.

He believes that Industry 4.0 is about keeping high-cost labour countries in play and believes that what people forget about Australia being high cost is that the country also produces high-quality goods.

“It’s all well and good to malign the manufacturing sector – the costs are what they are – but we are high quality,” said McKew. “There is nothing that comes in from Germany or Japan that Australia can’t do as well. I think in the presence of an automated warehouse, that knowhow and expertise is a combination of Australian and New Zealand engineering and manufacturing, and componentry from Japan and Germany. World-class solutions can be deployed in Australia and New Zealand.  We’re having bigger conversations in Australia about manufacturing and quality. The reason we are having these conversations is because manufacturing is important to so many Australian families who can rely on it for employment. We are committed to the sector and are committed to manufacturing across the five locations we manufacture in Australia and New Zealand.”

ESM Australia helps businesses keep costs down with modular software systems

In the modern Australian manufacturing environment, it is important to manage costs.

With stiff and cheap, competition from overseas markets, having a competitive edge is important if you want to run a successful processing business.

The old adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” remains as true today as it’s ever been. But measuring some processes in food accurately can be difficult.

Some use manual paper-based logging or performance metrics, some use a hybrid system of paper-based and digital and a growing number are using new technologies to capture data automatically, directly from process machinery and smart sensors.

Connecting these systems and managing their data is not without challenges.

Almost all manufacturing enterprises have different plant from different vendors and there are generally and various control system vendors, makes, models and communications protocols to deal with.

And once you have the data, then what?

The rewards can be immense.

Once production data is available to management, operations and maintenance, productivity can be measured and fine-tuned.

This is where the new monitoring and control platform, Ignition, comes into its own. With the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 making their footprints felt on the Australian manufacturing landscape, the Ignition platform is designed to help connect, collect, and harness process data to implement positive changes within the food processing industry.

“Ignition is a great connector of things,” said Glen Fry, managing director of ESM, an Australian distributor and gold-certified integrator of Ignition.

“It makes an ideal platform for the Internet of Things because of the interconnectability and scalability it offers. Ignition is a very open design, yet incredibly secure,” he said.

“Ignition connects to nearly any field device such as PLCs from all major automation vendors, variable speed drives, or an obscure IoT enabled sensor. It doesn’t really matter what it is. We are able to get that data easily and cost-effectively then store, analyse, and visualise.”

Once the data is in the standard SQL database, Ignition provides powerful tools to format and display data either in real time, or historical trends.

The best insights can sometimes come from areas you don’t expect.

Modules that provide machine-learning and AI-based data analytics to carry out some predictive analysis are available, and those tools can give users insights into data they were not going to see just by looking at it due to the large volume of data available.

Ignition is a modular system, so it can be catered to a company’s individual needs. Fry said his company will help a customer decide what parts of the system is best for them. Best of all, the system is hugely scalable, with the typical installation providing unlimited device and data connections, and unlimited users, for one cost.

“We work with the client to scope their requirements concisely up front,” he said.

“It means that we need to get a good insight into what their business is doing so that we can help pick the right metrics to measure. Results only come from the client taking those actions. It’s the visibility of that production process that allows people to make changes that drive those yield improvements.”

One local customer told Fry implementing changes based on the data the Ignition system highlighted offered up a net saving of “around seven percent” on running the plant.

That sounds like a lot, but tightening productivity, and quality is much easier when you have a tool like Ignition to help identify problem areas.

When the business is turns over more than $100 million, those savings get put into perspective pretty quickly, said Fry.

“For that particular project, we implemented a full visualisation and manufacturing execution system for [its product] and that has been a large-scale process,” said Fry.

“Apart from the obvious costs savings, it’s given the clients a much greater insight into their business.”

And that is the key to the whole Ignition platform.

It is designed to cut out the hassle of dealing with the different variety of vendors’ plant and machinery used in the manufacturing process. It allows for the monitoring and reporting of how the plant and machinery is working without having to go to each individual piece of equipment and find how it is running.

“Ignition helps to paint a picture of where your problems are,” said Fry.

“The important part about that is that we can measure in real time the productivity, quality or availability and the downtime of machinery in a production environment,” he said.

“By looking at those variables we are able to devise OEE [Overall Equipment Effectiveness]. What that does is give us not only real-time data but also provides us with historical data.

That data has huge potential, too, because we can look at the productivity of a line – month-on-month or product-on-product and understand whether the plant’s performance is getting better or worse.”

Fry is also at pains to point out the one other differentiation between Ignition and most of its competitors, which is the pricing structure.

“With many other systems you’ll need to buy more client licenses, more tags, more development licences. With Ignition’s standard unlimited licencing model, if you want to connect another section of plant or add 20 users, it costs no more than the engineering to design the pages.

“That can be an enormous saving and with some companies those extra fees legacy SCADA system impose can be a huge pain point,” said Fry.

SMC to showcase its new Industry 4.0 technologies at Foodtech Packtech New Zealand

As the global innovation race continues, the continent looks to it manufacturers to advance innovation, unlock new opportunities and to ultimately accelerate the economy.

This is evident in the food and packaging industries, where SMC has been working on its new Industry 4.0 technology.

SMC has a clear strategy and the technology to help implement Industry 4.0 solutions for all its customers.

Today it’s all about faster and more flexible processes and plants to ensure sustainable, increased production and reduced costs.

READ: Potato company partners with SMC to bring field to fork while saving energy

The company will be showcasing its latest Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for the food and packaging industries at this year’s FoodTech PackTech event in New Zealand.

SMC has also developed a state-of-the-art training system to further enhance the skills of maintenance teams for optimised productivity and maintenance scheduling.

The SIF-400 is SMC’s latest training system which looks to simulate a production line using IoT technologies.

Training can be conducted at the company’s training facilities or on-site and it allows maintenance team to get hands-on with the latest technologies in a safe and controlled environment.

SMC Digital transformation leader and electronic platforms manager Jozef Ceh will be featured as a guest speaker at FoodTech PackTech and will be talking about Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 brings with it a host of jargon and uncertainties.

The feedback from customers in the past when attending Industry 4.0 talks is that at the end of these, they still aren’t too sure of how to approach Industry 4.0 practically and how to incorporate it into their environment.

The team at SMC will be at FoodTech PackTech to discuss industry 4.0 with ease.

The event is at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland from the 18th to 20th of September.

SMC delivers automation solutions worldwide.

It offers more than 12,000 basic products with over 700,000 variations.

Global search underway for Internet of Things trials in Victoria

 The Victorian government has begun a global search to find cutting-edge AgTech to support its on-farm Internet of Things (IoT) trial.

The search began on the 3rd of August, as part of the government’s $27-million investment in digital agriculture.

It will investigate issues from network connectivity through to on-farm IoT applications.

Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said AgTech was the next revolution in farming.

READ: Internet of Things changes the way trade services operate

“We’re proud to the lead the way, giving Victorian farmers the best tools available to capitalise on the world stage,” she said.

“Agtech, including IoT, has the capacity to change the agricultural landscape for decades to come – so we’re doing the research on the ground to ensure it can deliver the results it promises for Victorians.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for farmers and agtech providers to get down to the nitty-gritty of what works and what doesn’t, breaking down barriers such as a lack of connectivity, skills and capital to invest,” said Pulford.

The government has asked companies to submit tenders to build IoT networks that will enable farmers to participate in the trial, which will cover Victoria’s major agricultural sectors of dairy, horticulture, meat production and broad-acre cropping.

Tenders are being sought for the establishment of IoT networks for each of the four trial regions – around Maffra, Tatura, Serpentine and Birchip – to provide the connectivity needed to enable the use of on-farm IoT solutions.

Soon, agriculture IoT providers will be able to submit proposals to supply applications and devices for the four farm types included in the trial.

Farmers participating in the trial will be able to select IoT solutions to trial on their farm, with financial support from Agriculture Victoria.

The IoT solutions used in the trial will help farmers make more informed decisions and improve farm performance by providing greater information through monitoring of farm variables.

The trial part of the government’s Connecting Victoria initiative, which is ensuring regional communities are digitally connected through free public WiFi pilots, new towers to fix mobile blackspots and the $45m connecting regional communities program to address regional priorities.

 

Internet of Things changes the way trade services operate

Australian tradespeople who manage billions of dollars of equipment that keeps facilities open, are the new frontline in the advance of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The internet and smartphones are necessities when running a business, so trade services must embrace the next phase of business evolution in order to remain relevant in the market.

They need to appear dependable, effective and cutting-edge for the modern customer.

Though not a brand new concept, IoT has become the herald of this new chapter, facilitating unique connections with the latest job management and service technology.

READ: How IIoT revolutionises processes throughout the supply chain

IoT changes the way trade service facilities and professionals operate.

IoT, connects any electronic device to the internet and to other connected devices.

Through IoT a giant online network is created, which allows previously unrelated technology to speak to each other and combine forces to create new functions that generate new levels of convenience for the user.

Many tech experts have used smart TVs or fitness watches that generate a tailored exercise plan as examples of IoT.

SimPRO director Curtis Thomson said IoT projects had moved well beyond the initial trials, to being actively rolled out by leading service companies and manufacturers.

When systems are all connected and talking to each other, trade services have the potential to cut costs, and improve service delivery and customer experience.

“Think about the IoT in terms of field service applications. Say, for example, you have an accelerometer fitted to the cooling tower on top of a building that could take vibration readings, log them to your database, and alert you when the vibrations fall out of a range. Or, you have sensors in the fire detection or sprinkler systems all constantly monitoring and reporting back the current state of the equipment they are tasked to keep an eye on. Then, when an event occurs that falls outside of a tolerable range for that piece of equipment, a notification is raised, a job is created to investigate, or an alert is sent to your customer,” said Thomson.

In June, 2018, simPRO introduced its new IoT solution, which will be available to its 100,000-plus users in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the UK, throughout this year.

The company takes hardware, software and data from businesses in the trade and field service industries and integrates them into one platform, allowing previously separate programs and machines to talk to each other and provide automated solutions ordinarily requiring extensive manual effort.

IoT represents significant opportunity in the trade services market, with the number of connected IoT devices worldwide expected to jump from nearly 31 billion in 2018 to 125 billion in 2030, according to analysis from IHS Markit.

How IIoT revolutionises processes throughout the supply chain

With new technology revolutionising manufacturing and retailing processes at every point in the supply chain, we are now looking to take a dive into the world of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT is a central technology for Industry 4.0 and is linked to other core concepts, including system integration, big data, and cloud computing. As such, it is important to see IIoT as a crucial part of an overall, larger picture.

The IIoT at its most basic level is an expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), which connects devices via an online network – enabling devices to collaboratively work with each other to exchange data.

The IIoT takes the premise of IoT and supersizes it. IIoT is a network of networks that connects people, devices, process, and assets at all stages of the supply chain, allowing us to operate and optimise factories in innovative new ways.

However, many manufacturing plants across the globe are formed around disconnected physical systems with different ends of the production process operating in silos. This lack of interconnectivity increases the risk of production errors and, therefore, also unplanned downtime. It is now time for factories to move onwards to a more connected and synergistic system.

IIoT provides a platform for manufacturers to analyse data at every stage of production and extend automated processes to unite previously disparate systems. Greater insight into factory processes enables manufacturers to increase overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), and by reducing human intervention, minimise downtime – and thus maximise profitability.

A key example of IIoT innovation is the cloud, which is a central connection point between devices. Connecting factory equipment to the cloud gives manufacturers 24/7 access to information on production line efficiencies, printer statuses and so much more. The cloud differs from traditional wide area networks (WAN), in that computing power and storage can flex in real time to the needs of the consumer, allowing for spikes in production and resource-intensive operations to be managed effectively.

It is in the areas of IIoT and cloud computing that Domino is shaping Industry 4.0. Through new technologies such as their i-Techx platform and the Domino Cloud, operators can use coding equipment and systems as part of a singular intelligent factory operation.

Domino’s i-Techx platform collects a vast array of data on printer operation – from ink and makeup usage, to running performance, and wear and tear on components. The data is sent to the Domino Cloud where it can be accessed by customers and the insignia Helpdesk team to monitor printers remotely, diagnose faults, and flag potential issues early – before any downtime occurs.

IIoT innovations like i-Techx and Domino Cloud ensure maximum efficiency of Ax-Series CIJ coders, and combined with our SafeGuard warranty support package plans, provide the highest level of aftercare and total peace of mind for our customers. Contact the team at insignia on 1300 467 446 to find out how the Domino Cloud can increase visibility and device connectivity throughout your supply chain.

 

 

The next step in the IoT revolution

Now in its second year, the Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit is billed as a must-attend event for Australian manufacturers. Matthew McDonald spoke to two of the participants at the gathering, which kicks off in Sydney tomorrow.

While Industry 4.0 has been around for some time now, it is still a relatively new concept to most manufacturers. As such, many of these businesses have either not yet introduced this new paradigm to their businesses or have not yet discovered the best way to harness the power that it promises.

With this in mind, the second Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit, which takes place in February at Sydney’s SMC Conference and Function Centre, is a great opportunity for food and beverage makers and others to inform themselves about the latest in Industry 4.0.

We spoke to two participants in the Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit who work in the food and beverage manufacturing sector.

Tania Montesin

Tania Montesin, regional manufacturing operations manager Asahi Beverages, has more than two decades’ experience in building and managing large, high-volume end-to-end supply chain management and manufacture of fast-moving consumer goods.

Apart from management of the region, she is currently working with company leadership on planning and deployment of Industry 4.0 initiatives to improve efficiency, consistency and profitability of manufacturing across the region.

When the subject turns to Industry 4.0, conversations tend to focus on things like quality control, improved efficiency, labour market changes and food safety. However, before any of that is possible, a couple of obvious questions businesses need to answer is ‘how do I get there?’ and ‘what is the first step?’

According to Montesin, getting started involves a lot of trial and error. “This area is new for everyone in fast moving consumer goods and definitely new for Australia. There is much piloting and exploration to be done in this space in the next three years to work out for each business how to use it most effectively against corporate goals,” she said.

Tania Montesin, regional manufacturing operations manager Asahi Beverages.
Tania Montesin from Asahi Beverages.

 

 

“Industry 4.0 is an enabler of exciting systems such as continuous improvement. Identifying areas of greatest loss in your organisation to target solutions that will provide financial benefit. And importantly, start with less complex projects to prove ideas and concepts early.”

Asked to name some Industry 4.0 success stories, Montesin mentioned larger international companies such as General Electric, Airbus, Rolls Royce. “These are largely engineering organisations where design and reliability are paramount for performance and brand integrity,” she said.

Regarding her experience at Asahi she said that the company started with understanding what is Industry 4.0 and how it can apply to our business and value chain specifically to meet corporate long term goals.

Montesin is scheduled to take part in a Case study presentation, called Collaboration across the digital supply chain at the Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit. She said that attendees will be able to learn more about Asahi’s approach to Industry 4.0 during the presentation.

Siamak Tafavough

Siamak Tafavough, lead data scientist Coca Cola Amatil, has a demonstrated history of working in the finance, food and beverages and health care industries. Skilled in leading advanced analytics projects, designing and structuring framework around machine learning and advanced analytics stream, he is a research professional with a Ph.D. focused in Machine Learning.

When we caught up with Tafavough he mentioned a new term – “Analytics of Things”.

“What we have currently is the Internet of Things which is devices that collect data and are connected to each other. If you can really use that data to get some insight and analyse the data to obtain some patterns, you are going one step further and getting lots of benefit out of this,” he said.

The Analytics of Things, therefore, is all about taking the data supplied by connected digital devices, analysing it, and working out the best ways to make it work for your business or organisation.

Siamak Tafavough, lead data scientist Coca Cola Amatil.
Siamak Tafavough.

 

 

“A number of companies are using this technology and benefitting out of it. There is a big growth in using this technology, however the bit we are missing at the moment is not many companies are actually investing in analysing the data. That’s the bit where most organisations are behind,” said Tafavough.

He said that, to date, food and beverage makers have successfully used Industry 4.0 in areas such as transport. “For example, in tracking the movements of trucks, the amount time they spend on the road, in distribution centres and so on.”

At the Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit, Tafavough is scheduled to take part in a panel discussion called, The Analytics of Things – creating new value from IoT data.

The Industrial Internet Summit is being held in Sydney on Feb 21-22. 

Domino Cloud and Ax-Series is helping manufacturers build the Factory of the Future

The fourth industrial revolution is upon us. Industry 4.0 is set to revolutionise manufacturing and production through the utilisation of cyber connected systems, which monitor factory processes to maximise efficiency and reduce downtime.

Industry 4.0 is a globally accepted reality that is affecting nearly every industry worldwide, and is transforming how businesses operate. It introduces a ‘smart factory’, where cyber-physical systems monitor production processes and are capable of making decentralized decisions – for example, monitoring consumable levels in a printer and alerting users that a consumable changeover is required.

In an Industry 4.0 factory, every machine and computing device is integrated and connected to the internet, enabling them to send and receive data – this process is what’s commonly known as the Internet of Things. The interconnectivity of these smart devices is empowering a step change in productivity, efficiency and customer-centric innovation for manufacturers.

This article goes beyond the buzzwords surrounding Industry 4.0 and highlights how it is empowering Australian manufacturers in achieving maximum efficiency in coding and marking processes.

What is Domino Cloud?

The release of Domino’s i-Techx platform and the Domino Cloud service tool are shaping Industry 4.0 in the areas of coding and marking. Both built into Domino’s latest continuous inkjet technology the Ax-Series, is equipped with features to be ready for the factory of the future.

Designed from the ground up to be industry 4.0 ready, the Domino Ax-Series easily integrates into existing production lines and supports a variety of standard factory automation communication protocols such as PACK-ML and OPC-UA.

Additionally, an array of integrated sensors automate system monitoring, allowing for proactive and predictive diagnostics and remote service support through the Internet of Things (IoT) and connection to the Domino Cloud.

The Domino Cloud provides powerful remote diagnostics, remote monitoring and customer reporting capabilities. For example, Domino’s i-Techx platform collects a vast array of data on printer operation – from running performance to ink and makeup levels, to wear and tear on components. This data is can be accessed through the Domino Cloud dashboard where it can be viewed by the customer at any time, regardless of the location. This enables the customer to be alerted to any issues and forecast ink and consumable orders. Additionally, this data incorporates Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) calculations and printer usage changes to provide insights for line improvement and lead manufacturing initiatives.

How does Domino Cloud help manufacturers?

Domino’s i-Techx platform and the Domino Cloud service tool provides manufacturers with error-free coding and system integration, as well as remote access and monitoring. This results in a smart and interconnected network of machines and processes that centralises and simplifies coding processes.

The consumption of ink and make-up can be monitored in real-time, utalising the Domino Cloud dashboard. Additionally, complications can be diagnosed from a distance by the helpdesk team and either fixed remotely or through an insignia service technician who can find the problem on-site.

Moreover, through automation, streams of information for OEE calculations and cost structures can be closely monitored to maximise efficiency, resulting in reduced downtime and increased production at the lowest possible cost.

Decentralised systems can increase profitability for manufacturers by streamlining and speeding up decisions, resulting in increased revenue, market share and profits for many businesses.

For coding and marking processes, Industry 4.0 means that inaccurate codes and unplanned downtime caused by equipment will no longer be a problem faced by manufacturers. Coding and marking machines will become part of a single intelligent factory operation, capable of monitoring performance and assisting team members with making informed decisions.

Domino Cloud is already shaping factories of the future and empowering a step change in productivity and efficiency for manufacturers. “We highly recommend Domino Cloud as a user friendly remote tool that gives us useful management information insight into all our connected production lines” affirms Dorin Cimpu, Manager Strategic Projects, Continental Tyres.

If you would like more information on Industry 4.0, the Domino Cloud, or to speak with the team about upgrading your current coding technology, please contact insignia on 1300 467 446 or visit https://www.insignia.com.au/domino-services/cloud

OptiFlox System at major dairy processing facility

SciDev has broadened the industry footprint of its unique OptiFlox System, following its deployment at a Lion Dairy & Drinks production facility. The system is now deployed in both the dairy and coal industries.

The OptiFlox System has been developed to assist in the automation and optimisation of industrial wastewater treatment.

The system is a technology that continuously measures the fine particle quantity and surface charge resulting from ongoing fluctuations in flow rates and contained solids experienced within industrial wastewater operations.

The measurement of these vital characteristics enables the automation and control of wastewater chemical dosing to achieve optimal flocculation conditions and water clarification performance.

The deployment at the Lion Dairy & Drinks facility follows the receipt of a purchase order, for an initial 12-month period, as announced on 29 March 2017. Lion Dairy & Drinks is a longstanding customer of SciDev. The commercial arrangements provide for the receipt of monthly payments for the provision of the system together with concurrent chemical sales.

The deployment highlights SciDev’s ability to leverage its existing and longstanding customer base for wastewater treatment chemicals, to extend its sales pipeline for systems and subsequently convert those sales inquiries into revenue-generating contracts.

The system is in the dissolved air flotation unit in the wastewater treatment plant of the dairy processing facility to continuously monitor water quality and maintain optimal flocculation conditions through automated, cloud-based, real-time chemical dosing.

The installation will complement existing and ongoing chemical sales at the facility, delivering productivity and cost benefits to the customer.

It is anticipated that a further OptiFlox System will be deployed during the September Quarter of 2017 at a dairy manufacturing facility in Victoria. This potential customer for an OptiFlox  System is one of the nation’s largest dairy producers and an existing customer for SciDev chemicals.

In addition, SciDev is also undertaking discussions with a range of industry participants including companies in the natural resources, energy, sewage and food processing sectors regarding potential trials of the system and looks forward to updating the market on this in the near term.

IoT saves the bacon for Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal. Dedicated staff promote independence and social capital through nutrition, safety and wellbeing checks and social cohesiveness.

The team at Ku-ring-gai Meals on Wheels (KMOW) work hard to ensure people who are frail, aged or disabled can remain in their own home; and that carers are supported in their role.

When cooking, Tony Lyons (Head Chef, KMOW) and his team are, in effect, preparing meals for their extended family. Producing approximately 100,000 meals every year, the KMOW kitchen is always busy producing fresh and safe food.

“Food safety in our environment is critical and, in particular, we keep a very close eye on temperature,” Lyons said.

Temperature management is the key influencer of perishable food shelf life and underpins food safety. When temperature sensitive foods breach cold chain specifications, people’s lives are at risk. While government regulation throughout Australia requires temperature recording to underpin safety, proper temperature management delivers reduced food wastage and protects an organisation’s reputation.

KMOW uses CCP’s state-of-the-art Internet of Things (IoT) smart tags to monitor temperature in its cool room and freezers. On 02 May 2016, CCP identified a trend of increasing minimum temperature and shortened defrost cycles in one freezer, which triggered a diagnostics alert. On receiving the notification, the Head Chef was quick to react.

“When I saw the temperature log, I immediately arranged for all products in the freezer to be removed, and I contacted refrigeration mechanic,” Tony said.

A quick system test revealed a blocked TX valve, which was limiting the refrigerant flow rate. If left unrepaired, the compressor would’ve failed – an estimated A$3,000 cost to supply and install.

“Without the CCP solution in place, we would not have known about this and would have faced a very expensive repair bill. This single notification more than paid for the entire CCP solution for several years,” said KMOW’s Business Manager.

CCP CEO, Michael White said, “We love being a part of the Meals on Wheels story. What a great community service; and we’re delighted to have helped the team at Ku-ring-gai save the bacon.”