Digital technology and connectivity is making the manufacturing process increasingly intelligent and dynamic – the smart factory concept could soon become the norm. A network of cyber-physical systems capable of exchanging information, triggering actions, and controlling one another is reinforcing the trend towards automation and data exchange in smart manufacturing.
From customised to plug-and-play solutions
When managing a mass production line, the primary goal is to track productivity, losses, and overall performance. “The production line is made up of a long chain of separate and complex activities and a high number of discrete machines with different characteristics. The latter can vary in their brand, model, generation and technology. Due to their heterogeneity, the bespoke solutions for acquiring measurement data, further processing them and transferring them to a centralised area are very expensive, difficult to operate and not easy to integrate,” explains Javier Tourón, marketing director of Sistemas OEE. With EU funding of the Smart OEE project, Sistemas OEE developed a real-time data acquisition system for boosting the efficiency of monitoring, management, and decision-making. Nowhere are its benefits more evident than in complex production lines with heterogeneous machines, where increasing numbers of measured values have to be processed ever faster. “Our Smart OEE solution is a real breakthrough thanks to its reliable and quick universal connection system that can provide simple and robust connectivity to stand-alone machines from different vendors,” notes Tourón.
The system’s inner workings
Smart OEE is a collection of software and hardware that allows the measurement of physical characteristics. Automatic data capture hardware collects information directly from the machines. The software system stores the data provided by the hardware, and offers real-time monitoring at all levels of plant management. All information is automatically recorded in a multi-base software system that enables efficient management, analysis and exploitation of log files. Big Data is enabling manufacturers to gain real-time access to the incredible volume of data that their machines are producing. The underlying Smart OEE technology is open-source, although it can also adapt to proprietary solutions when needed. The Smart OEE solution is composed of smaller services in the form of modules – microservices. This is a useful architectural approach as it makes each service scalable to handle increased tasks or requests.
Industry 4.0 adoption optimises production
The newly developed technology is part of what is known as cyber-physical systems – integration of computation, networking, and physical processes that will affect all industry sectors within the Industry 4.0 (or ‘smart factory’) paradigm. “With its Smart OEE solution, Sistemas OEE introduces information technology and the benefits of mobile devices into the production line. What’s more, it helps small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) enter the Industry 4.0 era and reap its benefits including increased, and importantly, quantifiable productivity,” notes Tourón. Smart OEE will enhance the competitiveness of SMEs in the manufacturing industry, helping to decrease their production costs and facilitating decision-making around plant organisation and investments. Thanks to its modular nature and different functionalities, SMART OEE can benefit both automated and semi-automated production lines, even fully manual production systems. So far, Smart OEE demonstrated a 5 % increase in the operations efficiency of a plastic extrusion company and a 15 % increase in the efficiency of product labelling in an agri-food company.
Smart OEE, real-time, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), smart factory, Sistemas OEE, Industry 4.0, data acquisition, cyber-physical system, smart manufacturing