Everyone is talking about Industry 4.0 and its possibilities: more data, more control and more productivity. And yet, many companies are reluctant to step into industrial digitisation. The question is: With which concrete solutions can Industry 4.0 be implemented easily and efficiently in the company?
The challenges faced by manufacturing companies and machine engineers are clear: How do they increase availability and transparency in their production? How can various different devices be quickly connected to a platform? How can communication and problem solving be improved within production?
Profitable Industrial IoT solutions should provide production workers with immediate support, ease of use and secure data handling. In addition, they should be able to do without high investments in new production facilities. Another requirement should also be mentioned, which is rather rare today: standardisation.
Standardisation has advantages over the custom solution
The I4_Station Optimizer vfrom connyun is currently the industry’s only standard IIoT application. Production staff can monitor their KPIs in real-time and instantly respond to problems, which quickly brings faulty machines or cells back online. The I4_Station Optimizer combines the current status of each cell, creates intelligent predictions, notifies employees and enables the sharing of experience and problem-solving strategies within the organisation.
Like the I4_Station Optimizer, a standard SaaS product has clear advantages compared to an individual solution: it is based on the standards in the industrial environment and uses predefined settings and visualisations. In addition, it directly takes into account the user’s requests for improvement and makes them available to all users with every free update. Standardisation also has a clear edge in terms of cost-effectiveness: payment is on a monthly basis and only for the actual use of the connected cells. In addition, no extra staff need to be employed for the operation, because this is intuitive and quickly learnable.
Behind the clear user interface - under the bonnet, as it were - is the currently most advanced IIoT technology: Microsoft Azure provides connectivity as a cloud solution, while Softing provides the edge component. connyun has entered partnerships with both companies to generate value with IIoT.
Simple connectivity of a variety of devices is a prerequisite
Connecting a production plant to an IIoT platform is still a great challenge. Technically speaking, it is the basic requirement for applied Industry 4.0 within your company. In practice, connection is often difficult because, on one hand, interfaces are not uniform, and on the other hand, various different devices such as robots, machines, grippers and controllers - usually also from different manufacturers - need to be networked.
The I4_Station Optimizer uses "Plug & Work" technology for on-boarding: automatic device detection based on OPC UA. This doesn’t require code, and connects with just one click. This ensures that there is no need to intervene in the technological infrastructure of the production unit. The I4_Station Optimizer immediately receives the data from the connected devices and starts work immediately.
Communication between man and machine is progressing
Communication is a key aspect of production. No manufacturing company can afford to lose relevant information or have it not be available. With the extension of the I4_Station Optimizer, connyun and Amazon Web Services are currently testing how production staff can interact with Alexa via voice interface. For example, Alexa should be able to answer current status queries, assist in problem-solving in a dialogue or inform about current notifications.
Connyun and Brabbler are taking the issue of notifications and reports a step further. Both companies are working on a solution to help responsible production workers get involved immediately in case of problems. A messenger service is intended to ensure that incidents during production are correctly addressed and escalated directly to the smartphone or tablet via push notification. If it is ignored, other people can be involved until the problem is finally resolved.