By Ethan Goh, Senior Market Product Engineer, SICK Southeast Asia
The march of the fourth industrial revolution in manufacturing does not show any signs of slowing. Nor does it need much introduction as we see such technological trends as digitalization, robotics, autonomous mobile platforms, and artificial intelligence already transforming production processes.
This momentum, accelerated by the effects of the pandemic on the manufacturing industry, oversees a shifting focus from traditional quality control and lean manufacturing to more agile processes and real-time decision making.
The classic example is a customer who wants their product to be made in a factory but doesn’t want the same product as everyone else. It’s this customization that is driving the adoption of Industry 4.0 to make manufacturing very flexible.
It also ensures that production runs smoothly with maximum quality standards. In manufacturing there are only small tolerances for deviations before quality is affected and costs from waste or rework are incurred. Reducing such downtimes and improving efficiency is also in focus.
Making It Seamless
In trying to implement a robust strategy to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0, manufacturers can face a challenge: many of our customers have expressed a desire to implement Industry 4.0 technologies, but they simply don’t know where to start. Others find out, only too late, that they started down on the wrong path, resulting in lackluster results and wasted investment.
But a great way to start is by having a trusted partner who can help to analyze the operational and business processes together with manufacturers and then offer a blueprint to implement a best fit strategy towards Industry 4.0. This is exactly how SICK is working – in the near term, SICK’s core focus is helping manufacturers leverage Industry 4.0 technologies at the right price point for their business by means of our solutions for Manufacturing Intelligence.
For example, a critical first step to reaping the benefits of real-time, data-driven decision-making at all levels of the organization is the collection and evaluation of complex data from the shopfloor. For the execution of this crucial task, the SICK Manufacturing Intelligence playbook is simple: starting from smart connectivity, moving to visibility and finally to transparency and beyond – a seamless and practical vision starts to form.
Showing The Best Way Forward To Manufacturing Intelligence
Smart connectivity means using sensors and existing machine systems to provide the necessary data and the means to expose that data, in seamless and reliable communication between OT and IT systems. Once this is achieved, solutions providing the ability to visualize the data can be offered and this often viewed as an enormous added value. The next step to transparency and beyond, is now linking the data to further process parameters or simply to experiential knowledge and leveraging the new insights which are created to avoid quality problems, reduce downtimes and even unlock expanded business opportunities.
For example, many customers already use machine vision and radio frequency identification (RFID) systems for quality control and end-to-end tracking, but they are used in isolation and so manufacturers don’t see the optimal results of either. An example might be a customer who is using RFID, but not seeing the full value of tracking because they’re not inspecting for defects as well. On the other hand, one might be using machine vision solutions to locate defects but can’t leverage the true value of their insights because they lack the tracking technology to do more targeted recalls.
The key to Manufacturing Intelligence is marrying these disparate systems and data sources by means of edge software and cloud services, whereby exponential benefits and synergies can be unlocked.
SICK offers just these cyber-physical devices, software and digital services to make possible the seamless Manufacturing Intelligence. For example, to represent the sensor or machine information in the digital space, the LiveConnect capability from SICK provides a standardized connection from the sensor to the SICK IntegrationSpace via an edge gateway, reference to our SIM1012. In turn, the SICK IntegrationSpace is a versatile Software-as-a-Service platform for processing and networking not only static data but also the real time information from sensors and machines. The available services include, for example, online and real time visualization, configurable thresholds and alarming, the management of Digital Twins and their associated information, and interfacing to the manufacturer’s existing systems like Enterprise Resource Planning and Warehouse Management Systems.
With new data, SICK creates new value and aligns with manufacturers’ business synergies to create both top line growth and bottom-line savings. Manufacturers benefit not only from getting insightful advice from a reliable and experienced guide in implementing Industry 4.0, but also tried, proven and tested solutions for Manufacturing Intelligence from one source.
Experience for yourself the conference sessions and live demonstrations where SICK applies these and other industrial solutions at our upcoming event: SICK Go Beyond – Automation and Digital Transformation on 22 and 23 September 2021: https://sickgobeyond.vfairs.com/