How companies produce smarter with the right applications
What the steam engine was in the days of industrialisation is nowadays the use of intelligent software. The digitalisation of conventional production is inevitably advancing – the share of automated processes and the use of artificial intelligence for the control of machines and plants is becoming ever greater. Choosing the right software for the networked factories is becoming increasingly important. But what applications are actually available to SMEs in this regard?
Intelligent industrial software offers incredible optimisation potential – but also risks. It can be used to set a fundamental course in operations. That is why it is important to find a software concept that fits the DNA of the company. The larger the company and the more branched the processes, the more complex the search for the right solution: areas such as order acceptance, warehouse management, document and quality management, up to detailed planning in production and machine maintenance ultimately want to be taken into account in equal measure. How can a connected organisational unit be created in which individual processes are no longer controlled separately but via central access points?
Corporations have long since discovered the numerous advantages of digitalisation for themselves and show how the transformation can succeed. Now, more and more medium-sized companies are following suit and beginning to integrate the efficiency-enhancing automation solutions into their production. However, the solutions of the corporations cannot simply be transferred here, as size and structure differ greatly from medium-sized companies. So other ways must be found for digitalisation. This raises the following questions: What is the best way for SMEs to proceed with the changeover? What do they have to pay special attention to? And what solutions are actually available to them for the implementation of Industrie 4.0 (What is Industrie 4.0?)?
Connect, network, improve: Making sense of communication in the company
The basis for the successful integration of smart solutions is in any case a resilient, modern corporate infrastructure and reliable data streams. Without the right information, individual processes and systems cannot be profitably – and above all error-free – coupled with each other. For this purpose, it is particularly suitable for medium-sized companies to fall back on proven industry standards such as OPC UA: an OPC-capable server, such as the KEPServerEX, with drivers for over 160 different controllers, offers the possibility of effectively networking the most diverse systems and machine types. Such a central interface can combine data and information from the connected sources and bundle the entire communication of the automation. In this way, secure and reliable access to industrial real-time data in the company can be realised in an uncomplicated manner and guaranteed on an ongoing basis.
Production control with the Factory Application Server FAS
Companies can then use selected software to control the entire production network via the connection to an OPC Router. For example, production can be easily connected to the ERP system using an SAP Plug-in. The standard interfaces BAP, RFC or IDocs are then used to communicate reliably between PLCs and the ERP system. All data points and connections can be managed and controlled via the graphical user interface of the FAS – without the need for special programming. This means that adjustments can be managed centrally via the OPC Router project and further plants and systems can be connected even after the setup.
Plant monitoring with FAS-inMOVE
With the special FAS-inMOVE application, networked production plants and machines can be monitored in an uncomplicated way: In addition to machine data recording, plant visualisation and PLC monitoring, the software also displays actual values. Users can also set up individual emergency and alarm routines. Since FAS-inMOVE is called up via a browser, any web-enabled device with the appropriate authorisation can access the application and also receive messages from it. Maximum control is thus guaranteed – no matter where the responsible persons are located.
Energy management with the FAS Energy Portal
With the FAS Energy Portal, companies can monitor the performance and energy consumption of machines and systems. All important measured variables are collected, analysed and visualised in detail by the application in real time. Users can compile their individual monitoring, thereby always keeping an eye on important measured variables and quickly intervene if limit values are exceeded. Before a system exceeds a defined load limit, a warning notification is sent to the responsible employees. In this way, suitable countermeasures can be initiated before damage occurs. In addition, the software gains valuable information on the energy consumption and peak loads of the plants through regular analyses. The company can use this to make operations more sustainable and efficient.
Industrial software in SMEs: creating structures and still remaining flexible
By setting up an individual software architecture, SMEs can initiate many improvements: Be it through the automation of processes, the monitoring of equipment, individual warning and emergency systems or predictive maintenance solutions. Thanks to OPC networking, additional devices can be added at any time and further special software can be integrated. In this way, a controlled transition to Industry 4.0 can be achieved with little effort.
You can find out more about the OPC Router from inray at https://www.opc-router.de/. On our blog we always inform you about the latest developments regarding the OPC Router.
Are you interested in the practical application of Industrie 4.0 in SMEs? In the press area you will find a selection of user reports from different industries.