Mixing And Filling In IIoT Mode

Friday, March 30th, 2018

With an IoT gateway, automation suppliers are paving the way for a secure cloud solution which will enable machine and system builders as well as end customers to significantly improve their overall equipment effectiveness, Dr Michael Hoffmeister, management expert at Festo.


What are the four factors driving Industrial Internet of Things? These are primarily networking, adaptability, energy efficiency and new business models. Energy efficiency with real-time diagnostics, condition monitoring, decentralised intelligence and autonomous decision-making mechanisms are key features of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) that are typical of hygienic filling processes in the food industry. Suppliers of automation technology are using this technology to respond to the major issues that IIoT presents, such as process reliability and safety engineering.


Preparing The Ground For IoT

Fully networked “things” will simplify business life in the future. If the principle of the Internet of Things is applied to road traffic, improved networking would have a whole host of advantages. For example, vehicles with optimal braking performance would be more energy-efficient. Processing traffic data means that a navigation system would steer vehicles around diversions, proving its adaptability. Networking all the traffic lights together allows them to react to changing flows of traffic. This leads to brand new business models, at the heart of which is the question: how much would a driver be willing to pay for a wave of green lights?


As this vision of modern road traffic shows, the factors of networking, adaptability, energy efficiency and new business models are crucial for the era of the Internet of Things. Automation solution providers are shaping this era through six key measures. Products and solutions that are fit for IoT, such as digital pneumatics, take centre stage. These are created through continuous research and development –optimising the supply chain makes production processes more efficient.


However, IoT and Industry 4.0 could fail if the people affected by digitalisation are not prepared for it or for their role in it. It, therefore, makes sense to launch “Training 4.0” and “Working Environment 4.0” as well.The underlying goal of all efforts to make IoT a reality is the integration of different functions across system boundaries.


“That is why German automation suppliers are working closely with other companies in the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association and on the Platform Industry 4.0 project to create a common reference architecture,” explains Dr Michael Hoffmeister, Management Expert at Festo in the newly created Digital Business section.


Product Keys

As part of this, automation suppliers are using digital twins to embed their products and solutions in the common administration shell of this reference architecture (RAMI). All products are provided with a product label including a data matrix code known as product key, which gives access to a wealth of information. This is the key to the world of IoT.


In future, automation products will receive constant digital upgrades as the product key will be linked to the newly created “app stores or app worlds”. With these app stores upgrades and services for a specific component can be bought. It includes mobile apps, for digitalised pneumatic automation platforms for example, web apps for the cloud, desktop apps, apps for programmable logic controllers and firmware apps.


IoT Gateway To Data Analysis

Back in the here and now, an automation supplier already presents the first turnkey solution for IoT-ready components and dashboards. This IoT gateway connects components and modules from the field level, such as automation platforms, energy monitoring modules or handling systems, to a cloud via their OPC UA interface. The data can be prepared and monitored using the cloud. This enables trend analyses to be determined, and to set up early warning systems and automatic notifications in the event of incidents. The IoT gateway provides the cloud interface to a controller and ensures that the relevant information is communicated in the right format at the right time.

With the IoT gateway, it is possible to have preconfigured dashboards for each component with additional customisation. The dashboard is viewed in the web browser and shows diagrams and traffic light indicators. Specific widgets, i.e. components of a user interface, and diagrams for energy monitoring, preventive maintenance as well as performance figures for the process and for overall equipment effectiveness improvement, provide clarity. The condition monitoring solution improves error diagnostics and fault identification, creates transparency about energy consumption, delivers clear information in graph form and makes historical data available.

The introduction of tablet computers in maintenance can be an ingenious step: not only does the overall system effectiveness and the OEE of all production systems increase, the level of workforce motivation is also boosted. In future, networking will optimise wealth creation with a return on investment inside six months.


Food Safety

The supply of hygienic products and solutions—from valve terminals featuring a hygienic design right through to electric or pneumatic actuators—are essential for manufacturers of automation solutions to help customers to produce food that meets high standards of quality. A helpful add-on is a product range of robust, clean design tubes and fittings. It is the ideal choice for form-fill-seal applications and much more besides.


Maximum Compressed Air Requirements

In food-related processes, clean compressed air is a must. There are service units supplying compressed air qualities 1.4.1 and 1.2.1 (DIN ISO 8573-1:2010) for contact with dry and non-dry foods. They contain fine, micro and activated carbon filters for extremely demanding compressed air quality requirements. For that extra layer of safety, users also have the option of an energy efficiency module and a safety module for safe venting to Performance Level e.

Equipped with an energy efficiency module, food manufacturers are ready to take full advantage of IIoT and big data. It helps evaluating pressure and flow sensor technology in real time so that fast decisions can be made on site. PROFIBUS, PROFINET, EtherNet/IP and Modbus/TCP are all available as communication options, as is OPC UA.


Generating more data is one issue, but interpreting it and arriving at the right conclusions is another. Employees in the industry as well as students at vocational colleges and universities will therefore need to be trained specifically for IIoT.


IIoT Training

An understanding of fully automated digital production technologies and knowledge of the layout and programming of digital system networks is crucial. Otherwise, tomorrow’s employees will not be able to operate and optimise systems or develop flexible, intelligent components, and thus make a contribution to the necessary versatility and adaptability of the systems.


Cyber-physical learning and research platforms model the stations in a real production plant. Learning content includes, for example, system programming, networking, energy efficiency and data management. The platform also enables flexible software solutions to be developed and tested so that they can be used in production.