Data Acquisition & Intranet. Small steps to Industry 4.0

Denca has been seeing a steady rise in the number of enquiries and orders from customers looking to increase the capture of data from their existing automated production systems. This is the real-world shift towards industry 4.0. In essence, I4.0 is the trend for automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and processes.

With the significant rise in energy costs over recent years, most enquiries to Denca have focused on BEMS (Business Energy Management Systems) aimed at maximising efficient usage of energy in all its forms. However, more recently, there has been a widening in the scope of the enquiries and orders we are seeing. Manufacturers are increasingly recognising the value in gathering specific information from process systems and integrating this into existing SCADA systems. Particularly important is the way in which this data is displayed. It must be easy for production staff and managers to read and understand key data; on breakdowns and stoppages, for example.

Knowing when, where, and why stoppages and breakdowns happen is a key step towards improving reliability enabling your production equipment to run more efficiently. These efficiencies can improve productivity and drive down costs: key factors in this age of uncertainty for the future.

Real-world experience

A Denca client had recently installed a new controls system on a section of their production line applying a series of surface coatings to their product. The project included a new SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system yet the client felt it was not being used as extensively as it might. They wanted to extend system functionality regarding gathering and presenting process data to the production team and managers.

Although Denca had not installed the controls system, we were asked to develop and implement additional data collection specifically to report on production line stoppages and breakdowns; when, where, how long and how often.

Much of Denca’s project was delivered by our Software Team who created a separate web front-end accessible from any browser on the site that shows both the new information and also the existing data in easier to read and understand formats. Our project was delivered within 2 weeks from start to end. The client’s production routine was totally unaffected during the implementation.

While the project addressed our client’s immediate needs, Denca’s work demonstrated the potential to flexibly add data gathering and display to the existing system. Additional data capture and management could potentially be added to the SCADA system to further support maintenance and reduce downtimes.

Ultimately, this will be a decision for our client, but it perfectly demonstrates what can be achieved. Furthermore, subject to the details of specific systems, additional enhancements need not cost the earth to develop, install and apply.

Practice what you preach

Denca also recognises the potential for enhanced data capture and reporting in our own business systems. In 2014, the Denca board made the decision to actively develop our own intranet, designed and built in-house, drawing on our comprehensive expertise in both software development and process systems. Many areas of our business activities are supported by our ‘Dencaweb’ system and further development is planned. As well as streamlining internal systems, we are now also able to service and support our clients much more effectively and efficiently.

Delivering World-Class service quality is a key driver behind our developments. The switch from paper to direct electronic data capture of the engineering review for projects is proving beneficial. Project details are immediately added via hand-held tablets, eliminating the paper notes that are easily lost or damaged.

All in all, Industry 4.0 principles are proving to be a great platform for the Denca growth we have planned.

Please get in touch to discuss how Denca and Industry 4.0 can help your business

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