Automation Resources

Rate Control using Conveyor Freeboard Measurement

By measuring the distance between the product and the edge of the belt (freeboard), we can ensure that the maximum capacity of your system is always maintained, regardless of product type and surcharge angle of product on the belt. In addition, the system will run at maximum capacity, continuously.

Freeboard = Distance between the edge of the belt and product on the belt

CAS has recently implemented the control of a hydraulic gate on a rail car dumper. This was done using an indurad iLDR freeboard measurement radar sensor, to continuously maintain maximum unloading capacity.

Unlike most other sensor types, radar sensors are not affected by dust. The indurad iLDR sensor can withstand the dustiest conditions and has a feedback speed that can control hydraulic gate systems in real time.

Industry 4.0 Benefits are Closer than you Think

The 4th industrial revolution is referred to as Industry 4.0. A German working group reviewed current trends in automation and data exchange in manufacturing.  The baseline idea is applicable to all production and business environments around the globe. The concepts are absolute knowledge, automating everything, and interconnecting with everything. At first glance 4.0 may seem overwhelming, but, the initial steps are quite simple and extremely impactful.

The 4th Industrial Revolution

The 4th Industrial Revolution (Christoph Roser at AllAboutLean.com)

Financial, sales, ERP systems and automated production environments are generating massive amounts of data.  This data provides the foundation for all Industry 4.0 capabilities. The new catch term “Internet of Things” is simply data, a huge amount of seemingly unrelated data which allows businesses to answer virtually any question.

That’s enough of the high level stuff.  How does this help a small to mid-size processing facility in Canada?  Let’s start with the basics: Every time a switch opens, a motor starts, a sensor senses; data points are generated. Automating, sensing and recording are comparatively low-cost investments in most production and processing environments, but they empower us with the baseline data to realize massive benefits.  When a production line can sense upstream and downstream conditions, then react to maintain optimum operation automatically, production is as good as it can be.  With the right automation system in place, this consistently strong production can occur without major capital upgrades, and without overstressing equipment or workforce.

So, now we’ve automated the production environment and optimized throughput, but we’ve only just begun to realize the benefits of controlling the data.  The ability to capture, translate and control information flow allows us to seamlessly communicate with commercial business systems.  We can schedule and manage production, track and trace product or components through the process from receiving to shipping and beyond. Inter-connectivity with customers and suppliers can take us down a long road of global strategic advantages.

Basically, starting the process leads to benefits that fund the progression.  Or, realize the benefits and decide against connecting with the world for now.  But, be ready if necessary.

Data Management in the Era of IIoT

Industry 4.0, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Business Intelligence, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence.  With all of these new initiatives being introduced as the future of business, we had one manufacturing client say to us “it’s a bit like drinking from a fire hose”.  It is true that manufacturing technology and information sharing capabilities seem to be evolving at a rate beyond our ability to keep up.  As intimidating as this may seem, the common ground for all these technological evolutions is data.  The future is totally data reliant.

So, are you ready?  Every action taken in your business, whether manual or automated, is a data point.  You are already capturing huge volumes of data in your commercial systems.  The capture and utilization of production floor data points in your company is the secret sauce that will move you forward.

The age-old statement, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” is the common sense foundation of the new initiatives.  We can capture and record; counts, timelines, temperature, density, sequence of events, and more.  We can assign identification tags to customers, products, suppliers, locations, orders, employees, packaging and machinery. The degree to which you are measuring and capturing the various points is a direct reflection on how “data ready” you are. And early-stage analysis usually leads to significant payback opportunities that fund future process improvement investment.

So, you need to be data ready.  Confirmed Automation Systems can help you to understand where you are, and help you get to where you need to be.

The Impact of the Internet and the Cloud on Improving Manufacturing Productivity

Like it or not, the Internet has become a part of our daily lives at home and at work.  We can connect our cars, homes, and various gadgets to automate tasks and record and retain activity data. Modern manufacturing practices can achieve the same level of connectivity which generate countless possibilities for process optimization, analysis, and control. In the very near future, Industry 4.0 practices and connectivity to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will be minimum requirements for successful manufacturing companies.

In a recent review by Accenture, manufacturing executives stated that connectivity with the IIoT has positively impacted three main areas of their business: staff productivity, asset optimization, and cost reduction.  An example provided was a Stone Cutting business that realized a 33% increase in productivity and a 70% increase in profitability by implementing a sensor based Manufacturing Execution System(MES). When production data is captured live and translated, production reporting is automated and information exchange with ERP and other business systems is seamless and accurate.

We’ve all been exposed to various levels of asset optimization over the past couple of decades, but sensor-based controls upgrades can have a massive impact on productivity when synchronized with internal and external information systems.

Increase in Investment per Annum by Sector: Financial Services 13%, Technology 17%, Entertainment 18%, Retail 20%, Healthcare 20%, Hospitality 22%, Industrial 25%, Automotive 31%, Power & Utilities 32%, Energy & Mining 33%

Increase in Investment per Annum by Sector

Synchronization of controls technologies and commercial systems allowed Verizon to realize a 55 million kilowatt annual saving and a 66 million pound reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Predix is General Electric’s software platform for the collection and analysis of data from industrial machines. General Electric plans to support the growing Industrial Internet of Things with cloud servers and an app store. GE executives expect a 1% increase in internet and cloud solution efficiency from adopting “Predix”, which is expected to generate a billion dollars in savings.

Intel is projecting a $9M savings from a similar technology initiative.

The bottom-line is that having the MES synchronized with internet and cloud solutions can help manufacturing businesses significantly enhance process and efficiency. By collecting and reporting on data collected from the production lines and synchronizing with external data, Operational Intelligence is maximized and informed decision making becomes the norm.  More and more producers are embedding sensors to equipment, locations, processes and products to extract and analyze information to make better decisions and boost transparency. Confirmed Automation Systems is uniquely positioned to assess your current operation and define the path to “what is possible”.