Over the last 18 months, key stakeholders within process and manufacturing organizations have been examining whether digitization and connecting their manufacturing machines helps them to gain better visibility and control of plant asset performance. They are discovering that capabilities such as remote connectivity and remote monitoring, especially given pandemic-related travel restrictions and social distancing practices, have become increasingly business critical. In addition, digitization-driven asset performance management improvements are resulting in better asset reliability, more efficient maintenance practices, and energy-saving asset optimization.
As an experienced industrial automation automation systems integrator and EcoXpert, and recent winner of the Schneider Electric 2020 Alliance Partner Award, our company Adarsha Control and Automation, works with manufacturing plant executives and engineers to address energy, production, process efficiency, and maintenance issues. Systems integrators are uniquely positioned to offer end users the latest and best solutions on the market. Their wealth of experience and constant upskilling on the newest technologies and offers make them the natural go-to companies for manufacturers who want to modernize and maintain competitiveness. Over the years we have helped many manufacturing organizations achieve new breakthroughs in operational efficiency and are familiar with many of the business challenges they face on an ongoing basis.
As many large manufacturers in our region enter the initial phases of their digitization projects, our business value add is to show them best practices for lowering costs in a new, more digitized world.
Early Proof-of-Concept Illustrates Digitization Success
Below are several examples of operational areas where our manufacturing clients are uncovering some early digitization business benefits:
- Shorter periods of downtime – Some of our clients are moving from traditional preventative maintenance to digitally-driven predictive maintenance. Their goal is to gather more information about the processes and machines running on their plant floors. When an issue arises, they seek a quick response and the exact reason which causes that issue and would like to assure themselves that the necessary spare parts are already in place. One of our clients is piloting such a predictive maintenance approach through their intelligent motor control By remotely monitoring these operations, they receive data well in advance of an anomaly occurring. Early indicators such as abnormally high temperature or current warn that a motor may stop or fail unless a maintenance action is planned. This information is captured, and a message is generated as an alarm to the appropriate technician. The person then takes immediate actions to rectify the problem before a failure occurs. The net gain is a much shorter period of equipment downtime, and extra time for both acquisition of spare parts and back up planning, should backup be needed.
- Increased remote visibility to assets – Many manufacturers are currently unable to judge how their machines are performing. One bottling plant decided to address this issue by implementing a pilot to monitor machine data through the installation of sensors. These connected sensors can quickly improve process efficiency, but the actionable data they provide can also be used to control other important business variables right at the asset, including environmental safety, reliability, and operational profitability. Software analyzes the data gathered from the sensors and determines the efficiency of the machines and indicates which line is performing best. The plant can then decide to run most of its processing through that particular line to boost overall productivity numbers. Because this type of information can be viewed remotely, if an issue in one of the lines comes up, the engineer avoids having to visit the bottling unit in person to restart the machines and check all the necessary parameters. Time is saved and machine production efficiency is maximized.
- Reduced energy consumption – Some clients are using digital solutions to reduce their energy consumption. In one case, data analysis is being applied to plant motors. Monitoring systems can determine if the 700 kW motors are running unnecessarily. When gaps are identified, the process operator modifies the rules and parameters of the machine behavior. Heavy motors are stopped 10 seconds earlier than normal, without running over and consuming additional energy. Over the course of the day, the better control of the motor starts and stops is generating significant energy savings. In another application, a steam plant is being monitored and that energy consumption data is being reformulated into management reports. Those reports, through use of easy-to-interpret pie charts, are helping upper management to justify process changes that save energy.
Digitization Expertise and Strong Partnership Build Trust
In all these cases, we at Adarsha support our customers by proposing Schneider Electric solutions that assure secure remote connectivity. We demonstrate the digital solutions, install the needed software, connect to the PLCs and plant data and then connect remotely, enabling the secure access the client requires. We also work closely with clients to identify which critical assets should be monitored on both existing systems and new systems.
Initially, new digitization projects are designed to start out slowly and methodically. But once one or two plants are commissioned and the clients start projecting their cost, manpower, and energy savings, the new projects begin to quickly accelerate.
Commercial enterprise clients and public sector units both see value of our close alliance partnership with Schneider Electric. They see us as a low risk/high benefit choice and as a partner who can support their initiative for the long term, with access to the expertise of a reliable, reputable partner with global reach.