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Industry 4.0 – exploiting digital data to enhance decision making

Industry 4.0 – exploiting digital data to enhance decision making

Industry 4.0 - the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution - is a hot topic right now.

Fundamentally, it means harnessing data from all the machines, devices, sensors, and people in any manufacturing operation and enabling them to communicate with each other via the Internet to make informed and timely decisions.

These decisions can be taken at a local level by operators with a more complete picture of the operation; by systems suggesting an intervention through automatic analysis of the data; and potentially by the system itself using advanced analytics.

Examples include using data from a number of sources to predict failures and request maintenance autonomously, or systems that do not simply measure OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) but take steps to improve it.

Its application seems inevitable, but realizing its full potential is a significant challenge. The answer is to take small steps, starting with the core of Industry 4.0 - data - and building up levels of functionality in the way it is used.

Intelligent analysis of process performance for timely advice

Baker Perkins’ policy is to provide machines that are ‘Industry 4.0 Ready’. In its simplest form (Level 1), all sensor and device data used by the PLC to control the process is made available on a common network. As well as controlling the process, the HMI/SCADA can perform standard performance and maintenance analysis such as OEE checks, alarm priority and machine condition - information that the customer can use to improve efficiency. All the data is available to be uploaded to an ERP or other onsite database for the customer to perform their own analysis and reporting.

For Level 2, Baker Perkins’ system will sample and upload all the data to a secure cloud or server. This cloud will also be accumulating data from the process equipment, all of which will be available to authorised users to facilitate improved decision making. The major advantage of this is that analysis is being carried out on the process as a whole, rather than discrete sections.

The final step (Level 3) will see Baker Perkins running bespoke analytics on the data that the customer has granted access to. This intelligent analysis of process performance and machine condition will enable us to provide timely advice on potential machine problems or service and parts requirements before they cause costly downtime.

Industry 4.0 is a fast developing technology that manufacturers can tailor to suit their own unique situations. With equipment and systems Industry 4.0 Ready, Baker Perkins is ideally positioned to help, whatever the level required.

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