Maximizing Productivity with the Power of Data

May 21, 2020
Bringing your manufacturing processes into the fourth industrial revolution.

With a focus on closing automation gaps in manufacturing, Industry 4.0 encourages data connectivity within enterprises. But Industry 4.0 is about more than just advanced technology; it’s the concept of how automation can be better utilized to help companies achieve operational goals that align with business strategies.

The Industry 4.0 conversation within an enterprise should begin with the business strategy. Aligning business goals with production activities and areas that need support is what helps bring enterprises straight into Industry 4.0 territory and keeps them competitive. Implementing Industry 4.0 strategies can help businesses meet the increasing demands on traditional manufacturing like increased traceability and limitless configurations.

Data-driven decisions
Once an enterprise has reviewed their business strategies, it’s time to find the data to support these goals. Collecting, connecting, and leveraging data helps businesses make intelligent and proactive decisions. But with so much data it can be hard to collect and analyze in a productive manner.

Fortunately, harnessing the value of all that data is possible with superior sensing products that improve efficiency to reduce costs and increase revenue for competitive advantages.

The goal is to find projects that improve operations and support growth. With Sick sensors on machines, you can collect, integrate, and move data to the appropriate place to meet operational excellence goals.

Collecting data and information to improve processes
Many companies are starved for the information needed to improve their production lines. However, they often don’t know where to look or they lack the technology to collect and analyze the data. This was the case with one Sick manufacturing customer.

The plant operations management team found islands of automation and stranded data that they could not access. The plant managers didn’t know if machines were running, what temperatures ovens were at, or even how many parts were made that day. Without a clear picture of how their plant was running, the plant managers couldn’t make informed decisions to respond to the changing needs of manufacturing. They reached out to Sick to find a data collection product.

After an introduction into Sick sensor capabilities for data collection, the customer determined they wanted flexibility in their system to fit the fast-paced and ever-changing manufacturing operations landscape. The customer needed a partner who was hardware agnostic and could take data from all programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and sensors to move it where they needed it. Sick worked to provide the best-fitting product to the customer’s needs.

In some cases, Sick sensors were installed on equipment to begin data collection. In other instances, the Sick team worked to pull the data they needed from all sensors and PLCs installed in the plant, regardless of the company name on the hardware. After all, Industry 4.0 is about connectivity of technology and the generation of good data to improve operations.

Sick sensors were also able to collect data without having to go through the PLC. Not all data needs to be processed through the PLC for it to be properly harvested. This creates more flexibility in the creation of an Industry 4.0 production line.

Flexibility plays an important role in production for some companies as their customers demand more customized options, a concept commonly known as “lot size one.” With data and connectivity, adaptation to the changing demands of traditional manufacturing has never been easier.

A smart solution
There are endless benefits to making the digital transformation, including reduced downtime and manufacturing costs. For many companies, there is interest in finding a partner to help guide the company toward appropriate offering, prepare a roadmap, and support implementation. Sick has built out internal competencies to provide customers with complete connectivity to generate data to analyze for operational improvements.

Pursuing partnered Industry 4.0 systems should begin with a clear understanding of your business strategy. Stakeholders should develop a common understanding of how the company plans to grow as well as understanding what factors will drive business initiatives to overcome market challenges. This approach will ensure consensus and provide a common foundation when creating a roadmap with the appropriate partner to implement successful automation projects.

Learn more about SICK’s Industry 4.0 capabilities at:

Companies in this Article

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