Real-world Industry 4.0. Where to start?


In this article we looked at an overview of Industry 4.0, the fourth evolution in manufacturing.  We discussed what it is and the impacts it can have.

In essence, Industry 4.0 is about the capture, distribution and sharing of data to process engineers and managers. Modern industrial internet, cloud-based communications system make this data available to help drive efficiency. However, the principle of joined-up data capture and remote display systems is not new.

Twenty years ago Denca installed just this type of system to continuously monitor water levels and control water discharge from a lake into a river. The system controlled water levels to ensure lake and river levels were maintained within operators required parameters. The installed system brought together and monitored several different instrument technologies and controls. In addition, it delivered information on demand to the site managers, operators and engineers via remote access.

A process, not an event

Industry 4.0 is a process of evolution. Currently, Denca is upgrading the monitoring system described above to address some obsolescence issues.  Essentially, the upgraded system will perform the same tasks but using newly designed and installed controls and upgraded software to benefit from today‚Äôs improved communications technology which delivers the data ever more easily, for example, direct to hand-held devices. This upgrade more effectively delivers relevant information straight to those who need it.

Many interconnected automated control systems installed over the past 20 years or so use data captured in real time. These give plant managers and engineers an overview of the status of their production. In turn, these help to deliver products and processes efficiently, reliably and with a higher quality. Such systems also help to ensure adherence to legal compliances delivering the evidence to support this.

Some systems feature controls which check for outputs falling outside of strict production parameters. These non-conformances can then be identified, marked and removed from the supply system. Concepts of Industry 4.0 take advantage of the significant advances in integrated connectivity that handle this information better and enable selected data to be more effectively distributed, in readily accessible formats, to those that need it. 

Increasingly, companies are beginning to see potential benefits with advanced systems. Consequently, they are starting to invest in them

Denca Experience

With costs rising inexorably, energy management and efficiency is a key driver across today’s manufacturing sector. As a result, Denca has designed and installed several Business Energy Management Systems for customers looking to improve their control of energy use.

Gas and electricity consumption is monitored in real time across a production site. Several sources including ovens, furnaces and appropriate machinery deliver data to the management system. Relevant personnel can access the collected data as required. Modern systems capture, update and present data in real-time, not just at the end of the shift or day. Users can also have the information presented in different ways, depending on need.

For high energy users,  comparing demands at start-up with those during normal running or when there is a peak requirement can identify ways to streamline system power-up, use and shut-down routines to balance demands – often resulting in significant savings.

Integrated data capture and reporting can also help in identifying output variations and efficiency improvement opportunities. Denca developed and installed a new BEMS system that captured information, helping our customer to identify differences in output performance between different shifts.  This data further supported them in developing and implementing better working practices, bringing rapid benefit.

Industry 4.0 – a starting point

With the significance of energy use for many manufacturing businesses, a well thought out and installed BEMS could be a good place to start the process of joining up the different data sources in your factory. While not designed as the ‘be-all-and-end-all’ solution to production efficiency, a BEMS still has the capability to deliver valuable insight.

The inherent communication capabilities of modern production systems mean that an Energy Management System, or indeed other process improvement technology, does not have to stand alone. Once installed and operational, it may well be possible to expand and enhance a system. For businesses with strict regulatory and legal requirements placed on them, efficient traceable data collection and management can be great aids towards compliance

Denca has the experience to design and install communication systems that gathers all the data together and deliver it in the way our client needs. We have seen Business Energy Management Systems aiding customers in improving their production processes as well as providing a more detailed understanding of energy use.

Focus on the value to your business

Embracing Industry 4.0 requires investment and like any business investment, management must assess the potential returns. For some, this new technology will be of limited value. Their processes may not need the sophistication that an IR4.0 system delivers. There are many manufacturers out there today who do not need the latest automated communication technologies just yet. Many companies may already be well automated. Further integration may not be of significant benefit. Denca is always happy to advise. Our 23 years experience of delivering sophisticated, technical solutions successfully and importantly honestly is available to our clients and potential clients alike.

To explore the potential in your business, please Contact Us

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