Producing companies are faced with a challenge: In the digital age, the ability to produce in a faster, more customised and more flexible fashion is becoming noticeably more important. To make matters worse, the end product should not cost any more than it did previously.
So, in future, the ability to retrieve and check current production costs and the condition of the production process during ongoing production operations will prove critical to success. What is the operational performance like? What are the current production costs? What is the condition of the machinery and systems? And what is the ideal compromise between production performance and energy costs?
“If all of the data is available at all times to all of the systems that have to access it, then the only thing that needs to be done is to answer these questions,” explains Dr Jan Stefan Michels, Head of Standard and Technology Development at Weidmüller. “Looking at the present operational reality of most companies, this may be true in some cases – but in many production facilities, all of the relevant data and information has not yet been provided for all applications. And if something isn't transparent, you can't control it.”
A solution for fully networked production facilities
Under its guiding principle of “Energy-Efficient Process Optimisation through Condition Monitoring and Diagnosis”, Weidmüller is presenting another step towards Industry 4.0. At the heart of our solution for fully networked production facilities is ACT20C, a communication-capable signal converter that digitalises analogue production data and subsequently transfers it to and evaluates it in the Cloud.
This procedure allows network-compatible production data to be compared with other information, such as current energy prices, thus guaranteeing absolute transparency.
The technology has already proven its worth in everyday use: Weidmüller is using the diagnosis solution in its own production facilities to manufacture die cast parts
Giving process optimisation a fresh boost
The next step towards Industry 4.0 is direct communication between the individual parts of the production facility. In this regard, the ACT20C also allows any communication to be uploaded to the Cloud, thus providing completely new conclusions and findings about the production facility. This enables system operators to set up new services to optimise and diagnose their production processes or for energy management. Dr Michels emphasises: “It is precisely at this point that we've come full circle: What was isolated data up until now can all of a sudden be reviewed and evaluated again, giving process optimisation a fresh boost in the long term.”
Published in April 2014