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Taking your plant to the next level with Digital manufacturing

- October 14, 2016 10:23 am

Just like energy resource management in the home or office has become a reality with connected products, so too are plants in the Discrete and Process manufacturing space taking heed and going through digitization to improve processes. Going digital will allow plants and factories to quickly exchange large quantities of data, and gain valuable and actionable insights from it. All of which will mean collaboration and communication across the value chain at a faster, better and more efficient level, as well as harnessing expertise to automate and improve processes.

Cisco_TNBABT_Manufacturing_1200x627_Static_SOCIAL COPY 6Plants will implement digitization and IoT solutions that are predictive and go beyond real time analytics. There will be interconnected machines and parts “speaking” to one another, and identifying issues that could arise, so that predictive maintenance and action to be taken before the part or machine actually breaks down and human intervention is needed – and of great importance here – thereby eliminating downtime.

When a machine can communicate with the manufacturer, production flaws or weak links can be observed, reported, and dealt with, long before the product leaves the shop floor and is installed at a customer location. And for those instances where the scenario is after the fact, a self-reporting machine, as it were, still beats one that breaks down or has intrinsic flaws that only come to light during use, and have to be reported on by the user. This also reduces cost and time, and the entire cycle of claim-warranty-replacement/repair.

In a plant scenario, this means less or no downtime and lower cost of maintenance and thus, ownership. Especially in spaces like mining, energy and utilities, any downtime is extremely disruptive, expensive, and definitely to be avoided. For connected equipment that is placed outside the floor and is reporting and acting from a remote location, the ability to diagnose and repair a fault before it causes damage or becomes critical, is a huge win.

There are distinct advantages for different teams. From an operations standpoint, business processes can be integrated and automated using data. R&D and product design teams will be able to interact and exchange information with the plant floor, for a high level of quality control. Product quality will be positively affected too, by the use of sensors and digital tags, especially for those products in the field. For IT security teams, security of data exchange is assured by making use of cloud based platforms. And for operations teams, they have the ability to not just automate data flow, but also make use of this information to ensure less downtime and speed up their operations as well as improve operating equipment efficiency (OEE).

Some of today’s leading IT and IoT players are bringing to market solutions for plants, which offer industrial automation and manufacturing digitization. Data from the plant floor is linked to supply chain management systems and IT systems already in place. The advantage – a smart, optimized plant where there is better control, productivity and operational efficiency increases, production time and quality improves, and remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, and seamless operations become a reality. The possibilities are seemingly endless, and only time will tell the extent of the impact that digital manufacturing will have.
Join us on October 27th, 2016, for the upcoming IoT Webinar on “Digital Transformation – Connecting the Unconnected”, for a lively discussion on going digital.

 

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