With the emergence of Industry 4.0 and the ongoing development of real-world applications for it, manufacturers wishing to maintain their core competitiveness are increasingly adopting new technologies in an effort to gain long-term advantage. The reason Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing the entire industry is due to its potential to transform numerous operations, including processing, equipment monitoring, factory management, energy consumption and logistics, all of which can be integrated into innovative automated systems.
However, without a standard method for transformation, many manufacturers remain unsure how exactly to implement Industry 4.0 or what steps should be taken to initiate the smart factory transformation.
Connectivity and process visualization
“The previous industrial revolution, Industry 3.0, emphasized automation and computerization to enable automated machine production and digitalized data management,” said Wilson Dai, market development manager of Advantech’s Automation Computer Business Unit, speaking of the challenges faced by manufacturers today. “Now, in order to move towards Industry 4.0, connectivity and visualization are the key prerequisites—specifically, equipment connectivity process visualization.”
With equipment connectivity and the collection of machine data for real-time display, manufacturers can develop a variety of transparent, predictable, optimized and adaptive smart applications. This will enable the optimization of production lines and corporate resources for low-volume multi-customized production with the highest cost effectiveness.
As a passionate promoter of smart applications, Advantech has an extensive portfolio of IoT hardware and software products to help users achieve connectivity and process visualization, including sensory devices, mid-layer intelligent hardware and a top-layer multifunctional WebAccess cloud platform. Advantech continues to develop new solutions and services to assist manufacturers in implementing Industry 4.0 technologies.
Integrating smart applications
When it comes to implementing equipment connectivity for broad visualization applications, manufacturers and system integrators will encounter the same issue—all processes, including planning, design, testing and deployment, will need to be redesigned. Thus, the entire transformation process will take at least six to 12 months to complete. Because of the amount of time and energy required, few have fully implemented comprehensive factory monitoring. The resulting slow pace of adoption not only weakens the potential benefits, but also impacts the development of Industry 4.0.
Leveraging its wealth of industry experience and diverse resources, Advantech has developed its iFactory solution-ready platforms (SRPs) aimed at realizing smart factories by combining hardware and software into integrated applications. These SRPs comprise three main components: Demo AP, Domain AP and a Node-Red template.
“Advantech iFactory SRPs can dramatically reduce development time by providing pre-developed programs and modules for easy customization and expansion,” Dai said. Manufacturers that have adopted Advantech’s SRPs have been able to successfully develop Industry 4.0 applications in just three months.
Wireless data collection
Advantech’s SRPs support numerous programmable logic controller (PLC) communication drivers and brands of PLCs for easier networking. The use of standard protocols allows for the integration of monitoring and management systems to enable comprehensive data collection, flexible protocol transition, and operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) convergence. The efficacy of Advantech SRPs has been further enhanced with the inclusion of RESTful APIs, which eliminates the need to convert collected data for manufacturing execution systems (MESs).
“Customers desire a monitoring solution that can increase production efficiency by 30 percent and be installed without disrupting operations or additional wiring,” Dai said. “Currently, there are few solutions capable of satisfying these requirements, except for Advantech’s SRPs. Our three-color monitoring system is not only a turnkey solution for rapid implementation, but also provides a non-invasive tool to satisfy customer demands.”
Using iFactory SRPs combined with Advantech’s WISE series wireless modules, users only need to install data collection modules at every workstation.
Aimed at three main applications—equipment networking, process visualization and informatization of factory management—Advantech’s SRPs enable machine control, equipment monitoring and optimization, MES data integration, production optimization, productivity management and intelligent surveillance. Advantech plans to continue developing additional SRP systems for machine wear-and-tear detection, intelligent assembly monitoring, temperature monitoring, factory environment monitoring, productivity visualization, comprehensive monitoring and management, and production line management (eSOP).
For more information, visit Advantech at www.advantech.com.