Sep 21, 2018

How can the process industry implement Industry 4.0?

Megan Ray Nichols
4 min
While manufacturing makes strides toward Industry 4.0, the process industry still lags. But the latest t...

While manufacturing makes strides toward Industry 4.0, the process industry still lags. But the latest technological revolution can make tasks in the process industry more efficient. The heart of this revolution is data, which also lies at the core of the process industry. Rather than fearing the latest advances, companies should embrace them.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 uses technology to connect parts of the process that once relied on human communications, enabling adopters to collect, analyze and use data instantly. This industrial revolution also encompasses automation and mixed reality. For example, Canadian companies invested an average of $250,000 to digitize a small to medium manufacturing facility. This amount should be similar for process industries.

The automation could reduce the amount of downtime from broken machinery. Industry 4.0 technology predicts when equipment requires maintenance before it breaks down. Additionally, it's more flexible to change product production quickly, which is especially helpful in today's process industry. Personalized medicine and foods reduce overall volumes of production, while increasing the number of products a company can churn out.

Big data makes big businesses

Data bridges the gap between information and operations. Industry 4.0 takes this information and uses it to streamline physical processes. Networking in the chemical industry could result in a 30 percent increase in production by 2025. The data links research, production and customers in a vast, interconnected network that relays vital information in seconds.

To use big data, you need to collect it. A single sensor measuring the performance of a machine can take up to one trillion samples annually. A human would never be able to analyze this amount of data. Software to measure and categorize the information can automate processes, reducing human effort and increasing efficiency. In the chemical, food and pharmaceutical industries, mistakes could lead to death. Anything to reduce errors is a boon.

Linking employees with data

Though automation is a component of Industry 4.0, the process industry still requires humans. Employees use gathered data to make decisions on maintenance. Also, human workers’ experience with the equipment generates the algorithms the software and sensors use to schedule maintenance and repairs before unplanned outages. Employees can access information virtually about equipment by a database of “digital twins,” a term coined by Dr. Nico Zobel, a researcher with Fraunhofer IFF.

Employees can also safely learn to operate new equipment or learn new skills through virtual reality. Virtual reality also allows plants to verify operations before they open. BASF and Sinopec Engineering both used virtual 3D software to create an image of the plant operators could see before construction finished, which allowed them to make changes before installing any equipment.

Connecting the facility to the supply chain

Manual ordering of replacement parts for equipment wastes time. Industry 4.0 facilities have equipment sensors that send a signal when a component wears out. An inventory computer checks availability of the part and orders a replacement, if necessary. Facilities can do the same thing with raw materials and other supplies. With a well-stocked facility, operations can continue at their peak.

Shipping goods in specific conditions is critical for many process industry businesses. For instance, chemicals may require specific humidity and temperature levels during transport for safety and maintaining potency. Thanks to monitors and GPS in transport vehicles, it's possible to track products constantly after they leave the facility. That ensures top quality of products even during transit.

Benefits of Industry 4.0 to the process industry

Incorporating Industry 4.0 into the process industry requires an upfront investment, but the benefits over time will outweigh that. Fewer unexpected stoppages increases productivity. The big data of Industry 4.0 better informs the process industry of which products consumers immediately demand, and through automation, changing production at a moment's notice is simple.

Implementing Industry 4.0 into the process industry

When it comes to adding the necessary components of Industry 4.0, you will need both software and hardware upgrades. Sensors and software work in tandem to maximize productivity. Even if you're not ready to fully embrace everything Industry 4.0 has to offer, start off by updating your technology. You'll step into the future of the process industry gently, rather than diving headfirst into the deep end.

As the process industry experiences more demands from other businesses and customers, facilities will soon have no choice but to get on board. Don't leave your plant in the past.

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Jun 17, 2021

Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router

3 min
Siemens’ first industrial 5G router, the Scalancer MUM856-1, is now available and will revolutionise the concept of remote control in industry

Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age. 


Siemens Enables 5G IIoT

The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). 

Siemens presents its first industrial 5G router.
Siemens presents the Scalance MUM856-1.

The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.


Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance


  • Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
  • The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
  • A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
  • Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites


5G Now

“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.


Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said. 


Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future

Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’ 


And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.


The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.


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