With the help of Siemens Opcenter, spirit producer Absolut Vodka was able to continue its reign as a premium supplier of vodka. Here’s how.
Despite operating in an uncertain time, delivering programs with speed and excellence is expected. At Siemens, digital solutions have to be dynamic and sensitive to customers’ fluid and rising demands, not only to meet expectations, but to secure the highest return on investment.
Excellence is built on increasing process autonomy, digitally capable people, and agile, delivery-focused governance. Integrated solutions that allow for collaborating and fostering intimate interactions along a product life cycle is the only way to meet changing business and consumer demands.
Follow the link to learn from real-life examples of how the food and beverage industry has used software solutions to enable innovation, shorten production processes and increase speed-to-market.
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.
“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.
Progress doesn’t discriminate and the shift towards Industry 4.0 in the manufacturing sector is no different. Organisations of all sizes are at a critical juncture regarding planning the future of their manufacturing operations. Businesses in the beverage ndustry need to be supporting the development of technology that can be scaled at each end of the size spectrum to facilitate more consistent production.
One sector benefiting from this shift is the alcohol industry that is seeing a shift in consumer demand towards more craft brewers and micro distilleries. While this is an exciting prospect for the brewers, it brings with it the challenge of small operations needing to be scaled up rapidly. It is crucial that this process is facilitated in a way that doesn’t result in a drop of product quality or consistency.
Kaiju Brewery based out of Dandenong (Victoria) exemplifies how collaboration between original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) and companies of all sizes can result in clear and concise benefits. Owners Callum and Nat Reeves have partnered with Deacam, an OEM – whose Fermecraft technology has allowed Kaiju to grow at over 100% annually since they began.
Data is at the core of this growth. Through reliable data capture Fermecraft allows brewers to create a consistent product using automation and digitalization of temperature right through the process. Without this, the range of temperature would result in essentially a slightly different tasting beer each time, which isn’t an option when trying to gain a market share in an increasingly competitive industry.
Similarly, the use of Siemens’ cloud based MindSphere platform allows for the data to be contextualised. Kaiju for example, have access to historical data allowing them to identify that ‘golden batch’ that can be replicated going forward.
Director of Deacam – Warren Bradford addressed business leaders at Hannover Messe, the world’s biggest trade show and discussed how innovations in the ‘Internet of Things’ can result in the consistent scaling up of a manufacturer’s operation, without seeing a variation in quality.
Bradford will be exploring this concept when he speaks at Siemens’ Digitalize 2019 in Brisbane on the 23rd of July, delving into Kaiju and Melbourne gin distillers Brogan’s Way as successful examples. He will be seeking to demystify the myth that some companies are too small to afford digital transformation.
Nord Drivesystems has developed products that comply to safety and hygiene standards and can handle harsh washdown environments.
The products are available in size ranges suitable to every industry – from food and beverage and pharmaceutical right through to wastewater and mining.
Products are locally assembled and Nord has a large local stock holding and service team trained to help customers with commissioning and service.
The company recently supplied product at a wastewater treatment at a municipality that supplies approximately 2.5 million people in a metropolitan area with process water. To enable the bacterial decomposition of dirt particles, the wastewater needed to be oxygenated by constant churning. Two large, geared motors propelled the mixers around the clock. In the outdoor facility, temperature vary throughout the year.
The facility contained drive technology that was nearly 30 years old and needed to be replaced step by step. The original suppliers had discontinued the lines, which made spare parts hard to come by. Also, the originally installed gear units required maintenance to a problematic extent. In particular, the fluctuations in temperature have frequently affected the lubrication.
Getting a grip on heat
Searching a new supplier, the municipality found Nord Drivesystems, which had been operating a sales office in the country since 2003. Two combinations of Nord helical shaft gear units and
Siemens motors were installed, and have since proven themselves during continuous operation.
Nord used a high-quality synthetic long-life lubricant for the helical shaft gear units. It withstood the ambient temperatures considerably better than mineral oil – with the latter, the oil film would break down at high temperatures, resulting in increased wear and tear.
Each gear unit required 210 l of oil, which had to be changed after approximately 20,000 hours of operation. Other manufacturers stipulated shorter maintenance intervals, which made a difference at a price of the oil. An oil cooling system additionally increased operational safety in the Nord gear units – a temperature sensor constantly monitored the temperature of the lubricant and activated the cooling system as soon as a configurable limit was exceeded. In this application, the limit is 60°C.
Heated oil was then pumped out, cooled by an oil cooler and returned to the gear unit. When the temperature fell below 40°C the cooling system switched off automatically.
Drive technology in detail
Currently, there are two helical shaft gear units with a 132kW performance from Nord’s SK 12382VZ series that are installed at the waste water treatment plant. They are used in combination with Siemens motors via IEC adapters.
Nord’s helical shaft gear units are available as two- or three-stage basic types with hollow or solid shafts, in foot-mounted, flange-mounted, or face-mounted versions – each with the same housing. Suitable for integration into limited installation spaces, they can be combined with many components from the modular Nord system.
Atex models and models with IP55 or IP66 protection are available on request for all types. All gear units are manufactured according to the UNICASE concept, originally developed by Nord in 1981. This enables maximum performance for small gear dimensions and ensures operational safety, high efficiency, high output torques, high resistance to axial and radial loads, low-noise operation, low maintenance and a long lifetime.
It’s not available commercially but to demonstrate what the future might hold, a chocolate manufacturer in Switzerland (where else) has experimented by offering a bespoke box of chocolates that Forrest Gump would be happy with.
The production line’s robot enables consumers to order its chocolates any time from any where via Twitter. You can order, for example, three mini bars of dark chocolate and several with nuts and fill the rest of the package with milk chocolate. No white chocolate to be seen. The container is labelled, provided with the necessary product declaration, sealed and shipped to the consumer.
The flexible pick system is an “innovation kit” for Chocolat Frey in Germany and part of experimenting with the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 as it is being dubbed. The company has collaborated with a leading university, the University for Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), packaging specialist Pacvois, automation partner Autexis Holding AG and Siemens using its MindSphere open cloud ecosystem.
“As a university, it’s our job to identify new possibilities and point out where the journey could take us,” says Markus Krack, Head of Technology Transfer FITT at the School of Engineering at the university.
“The system is intended to provide an experience,” Krack explains. “We therefore chose a product and a problem that everyone knows: chocolate!”
The process is currently very expensive because Chocolat Frey is orientated to mass production and individual orders are packaged by hand.
The flexible pick system was financed by the university. “Producing the system was quite a feat,” Krack said. “Everyone pulled together. Even our professors did some of the programming, which doesn’t happen very often.” The partners relied primarily on products and solutions from Siemens. “We used MindSphere, the open cloud ecosystem from Siemens, on which our proprietary Autexis apps can run,” says Philippe Ramseier, the owner of Autexis.
The MindConnect hardware component collects the data from sensors and actuators and transmits it to the MindSphere cloud. A Simatic S7-1500 controller controls the Kuka robot using the TIA Portal library. This significantly simplifies the robot engineering, since the engineer only has to be familiar with the TIA Portal.
Siemens provides an extensive sample application for this purpose, which contains the robot program and the HMI images. The robot path points can thus be taught from a Simatic mobile panel (KTP900F), which gives a common look and feel to the way the machine and robot operate.
Autexis has been working with products from Siemens almost exclusively for 35 years. “This strategy has proven to be successful,” says Ramseier. Thanks to this long-lasting partnership, and by sharing ideas openly with Siemens on a basis of mutual trust, Autexis can apply itself to the development of new products and services.
This is also a good choice for Krack and the university. “Siemens is cutting-edge in the industrial environment. Our students must be able to deal with that.”
The Autexis project team also implemented new services for the Hannover Messe. Inventories or operating data from the robot can be made visible directly on the flexible pick system. “A personalised label gives customers with augmented reality additional information on the product, like the origin of the chocolate and the calories in each item in the assortment,” Ramseier says.
“The system can be expanded almost infinitely,” he adds. “For example, we can integrate the warehouse. If the inventory of mini bars falls below a minimum level, an order is automatically triggered.”
The customer’s preferences and ordering habits can be analysed using the data collected by the flexible pick system. Who likes what chocolate? Who orders chocolate and when? Does customer behaviour depend on the weather? “A customer who orders an especially large amount of chocolate could be sent a fitness studio brochure,” Krack says with a chuckle. And then adds, “Data protection is important to us.”
The flexible pick system is an “innovation kit” for Chocolat Frey, so it can be used to test processes. The results obtained can flow into the operational process later on. Krack also has a lot of praise for the project. “Of course, the research is also aimed at expanding the flexible pick system and developing more processes. As a university, it’s our job to identify new possibilities and point out where the journey could take us.”
Learn how Siemens is helping the Food & Beverage industry adapt to technological change at Digitalize 2018, Siemens’ annual digitalization conference, which will be held in Melbourne on Wednesday, 8 August 2018. For more details and to register, visit www.siemensdigitalize2018.com.