13 Jun 2017

Time to connect the machines for the production of the future

Industry 4.0 and IoT are concepts that most of the manufacturing industry has started to take a closer look at. The vision is that products that go through the manufacturing process communicate with the production equipment in a self-learning system – the smart factory.

The tool for achieving the vision of the smart factory is IoT (Internet of Things). In industrial context, it is also referred to as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The technology enables continuous data exchange between affected units from the chip of the product in the flow, robots and machines to the production and ERP systems.

Considerable activity in the field

Several IT solution providers have already presented their first versions of more or less large-scale data collection and data exchange solutions. Machine and tool manufacturers join to present their solutions to connect. Manufacturers are following the process and are preparing themselves. Some are making major investments in the technology that is currently available. Others are glancing at smarter machines to be prepared for the next step.

”What drives development is the need to increase productivity and thus maintain its competitiveness. With the smart factory, you can see highly automated production processes with less operators. Because machines and even products in the flow themselves can call on operators as needed, fewer employees can manage more production units more efficiently.”

“Other factors that increase interest are changes in the market place that lead to changed production processes. Shorter lead times, higher quality requirements, more customer-specific manufacturing, shorter series and more changeovers are some of the parameters”, says Mats Elmwall, Marketing Manager at AXXOS Industrial Systems.

Where are we today?

Despite the hype and promises of solutions, in practice, however, we have not come far. There are a lot of solutions available, but no one is sufficiently comprehensive or easy enough to access for a breakthrough of the smart factory. The biggest threshold is, as before, standardization.

In order for the vision to be realized to the level it has been raised by many actors and the media, all different systems must be able to communicate seamlessly. Unified communications and data formats are required, as well as IT security solutions. So, do we need to wait another 10 years?

AXXOS OEE measures, analyzes and visualizes production

Production of the future realized by many

For many manufacturers, a large part of what is included in the Industrial 4.0 and IIoT concepts has been a part of their standard operating procedures for a long time. With production monitoring systems like AXXOS OEE, they have their machines connected and continuously collect production data. Many have integrated the systems with their ERP systems and, thanks to that the ability to monitor production in detail at article and order levels without double entry of information.

In addition, many have connections to an EAM system, which provides seamless integration between production site and maintenance for e.g. alarm and error notification. It also provides the ability to build maintenance on actual production data, which in turn allows for predictive and proactive maintenance, making concepts such as Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) real.

”Here at AXXOS we have helped our customers to connect the machines and measure their production for almost 20 years, so this is nothing new to us. The companies that have been working with this for some time have a head start since they have learned what is important in context of using the information effectively to improve their production”, says Mats Elmwall.

AXXOS OEE Mobile provides full control of production everywhere in the factory - and beyond!

Positive trend for AXXOS

AXXOS is the leading supplier of production monitoring systems in Scandinavia and sees increased interest in OEE measuring, both in Sweden and internationally. The company has had strong growth for several years and is now expanding rapidly on an international market.

“The trend of increased interest in Industry 4.0 and IoT is very positive for us. We have lengthy experience of delivering large parts of what is still a vision for many. We connect our customers’ machines, help integrate with other systems and make production data available. We have solutions to visualize and make information available within local production facilities and globally in major organizations. We also have the tools to compile and analyze production data to create decision making material and enable improvements in efficiency and increased profitability.”

“2016 we joined API Maintenance Systems A / S and we are now further investing in developing our joint offer for future production. Integration between OEE systems and EAM systems is valuable for all manufacturing companies with reliability, efficiency and productivity in focus. “

Mats Elmwall provides a good advice for the companies that have not yet begun their journey towards future production.

“Take a closer look at how well you are utilizing your production resources. When you have a better idea of your current situation you are better set up to start working on improvements. Then you can continue to look at how the information can be used in different parts of the organization to continue the journey towards the smart factory”, he concludes.

Success for AXXOS OEE at the Hannover Fair, April 24-28

This year Hannover was more than ever the global meeting place for manufacturing professionals looking for answers to how they can get their factory fit for the digital future.

AXXOS and API Germany presented AXXOS OEE to the German and international audience and it was a great success being present at at the center of the Industry 4.0 and IoT activities.

During the week we had the pleasure to meet with a great number of midsize to large manufacturers and the opportunity and to talk about how AXXOS OEE can help them achieve more efficient production and to advance towards their future smart factory!

The summary of discussions at the fair confirms a great interest for AXXOS OEE from companies who are looking for a straight forward solution to follow up and to improve their manufacturing process rather than a complex MES system.

Manufacturing executives of several well-known companies appreciate what AXXOS OEE offers in terms of a cost-effective connection of machinery to local or global networks as well as the tools to make manufacturing information available where it’s needed to facilitate efficient production and a successful improvement process.

The presentation of production data in real-time with AXXOS Visualize, and access to the system with mobile devices was some of the features that got most attention from the visitors.