Smart Factory Success Stories
Manufacturing in the Era of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
The 21st century is accelerating at a tremendous pace, with technology colonising places that we would not have imagined ten years ago, both in the personal and professional spheres. The continuous improvements in broadband, the increase in the amount of data we have access to and the ability to process, analyse and act on these data are concepts that will influence manufacturing processes in the future.
These changes are having an impact on manufacturing plants and giving shape to new possibilities in the creation of products. This movement has its own name: Smart Factory.
What is Smart Factory?
Thanks to technology and the internet, the world is increasingly connected; there is a significant push to make products more intelligent by connecting them to each other through sensors and other data collection and transmission mechanisms. This interconnection is called the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the backbone of Smart Factory.
These interconnected devices become intelligent machines with capabilities ranging from simple detection and action, to control, optimisation and fully autonomous operation. Software tools take advantage of all the information allowing the system to make smarter decisions about production processes.
Traditional manufacturing is converging with the world of digital manufacturing to allow companies to plan and digitally project the entire life cycle of products and manufacturing facilities. This offers enormous benefits in cost reduction and acceleration of the time-to-market.
Smart Data and Interdepartmental Connection
Smart Factory provides a highly dynamic environment: all departments and machines are digitally connected at all production levels, and information is what keeps it flowing. Imagine that you have sensors on all the machines in the factory that offer real-time visibility into how each one works. And software that analyses and displays the quality, performance and variations of each machine and its operators. This is invaluable for streamlining workflows, keeping production running, and eliminating interruptions due to failures.
At EPLAN, we realised that the connection to a company’s database is necessary to create more efficient engineering. The EPLAN Platform makes it easier for engineers to collaborate on the design in real time instead of each discipline working separately. Something impossible with traditional CAD/CAE tools.
IIoT is deeply affecting relationships with suppliers. An example of this is online component libraries such as the EPLAN Data Portal.
EPLAN Data Portal provides real-time access to device data from most leading component manufacturers on the market. This data is added to EPLAN projects, ensuring that the information on the components is incorporated into the documentation. The ability to simply “drag and drop” instead of drawing cuts down on time-consuming work and decreases manual errors, increasing the quality of the machine and documentation.
In Real Time
In the same way that our brain communicates with the body, the Smart Factory concept shows us how manufacturing can communicate, coordinate and provide corrective actions in real time.
What does this process mean in real time?
■ Predictive maintenance: the data flow allows machines to provide information that facilitates predictive maintenance, preventing failures and downtime during manufacturing.
■ Predictable productivity: the ability to scale or reduce production processes more precisely, including to batch size 1.
■ Adaptive analysis: with the continuous analysis of data, you can adapt your production environment at all levels and increase efficiency, speed and cost factors.
■ Lower operating costs: more specifically, use of meters and reduction potential for energy and process costs.
Documentation and Digital Prototype
Once the order comes in, communication with the customer can be irregular and slow. Smart Factory, with its more fluid approach, can also create better synergy with the client. By using digital prototypes, manufacturers can communicate the design process more effectively and obtain valuable input from the customer at key points in the planning stage. 3D prototypes of electrical cabinets provide easy visualisation of the design while in a virtual state and can capture customer changes before cutting the metal, reducing costs and speeding up production.
Your customers will demand greater responsibility and connection in the future. Documentation is an example of how this will evolve.
The paper documentation that accompanies machinery can cause significant problems. The risk of damage or loss is high, and the cost of maintenance is cumbersome and ineffective.
Database-centric engineering software such as EPLAN archives projects in a format that can be revised according to needs. The digital documentation remains with the product throughout its life cycle and operates in real time with updated information, such as replacement parts, updates and accessories. The documentation can also be imported to a mobile device to access while working on site with the machine.
These are just some of the ways in which IIoT is changing dynamics while providing innovative ways to create a better product and give added value to your relationship with your customers.
This is the future of manufacturing, and it is time to prepare for it.
The Smart Factory movement
Although the term Smart Factory has only existed for a few years, EPLAN has been providing the key infrastructure needed for the movement for more than three decades. In addition to the EPLAN platform, which helps factories to get started with Smart Factory, we also offer consulting services.
Our consultants can identify areas for cost reduction and greater opportunities for efficiency throughout your engineering process. By working with your staff, we can develop a solution that provides more integration and optimised processes, thus improving your company’s workflow.
Engineering Processes: Engineering processes are changing rapidly. We offer you solutions to face these challenges, both now and in the future.
Implementation: We offer you a professional and direct introduction to the EPLAN Platform with our implementation services. So, you can start improving the efficiency of electrical engineering as soon as possible.
Standardisation: Standardisation and documentation are directly proportional to the quality, cost and time invested.
Automation: Repetitive work processes can be optimised and automated. EPLAN can simplify highly repetitive electrical design processes.
Professional Project Management: For complex projects, one of our technical consultants will help you, adapting to your needs.