How smart technology is transforming the industrial world
Martin Walder, VP Industrial Automation at Schneider Electric, discusses the ways in which the industrial world is transforming as a result of smart technology.
When it comes to the world of manufacturing, Industry 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things and Smart manufacturing are all terms we hear thrown around a lot. Whilst these terms can all be used in isolation; they share one very important commonality – they are all impacted by digital transformation.
A smarter world
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the smart landscape can be defined as “fully integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real time to meet changing demands and conditions in the factory, in the supply network and in customer needs”.
At present, manufacturing systems are benefitting from an array of new, innovative technologies. Technologies including; big data, robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D level of control and the oversight that they bring all play a role in helping us to create a digital twin of an entire manufacturing system. The benefit of these digital twins is the increased business performance and greater real-time understanding of an object or process in play.
Lighthouses: Shedding some light on the future
A smart factory brings with it countless benefits. Smart factories embrace planning, supply chain logistics and all aspects of product development and innovation. Those failing to adopt smart manufacturing technologies and practices are the ones who will fall behind the competition and ultimately are likely to disappear.
With this in mind – for factories to become truly smart, they first need to understand what it means to be smart. The World Economic Forum has listed nine of the world smartest factories, calling them ‘lighthouses’ that shed light on the benefits of Industry 4.0. These factories are the ones that have successfully implemented the smartest technologies, whilst keeping people and sustainability at the heart of what they do.
Enter: Le Vaudreuil
A great example of one of these lighthouses is the Le Vaudreuil, one of Schneider Electric’s motor control manufacturing plants in Normandy. This factory draws on our EcoStruxure technology and utilises a wide range of our digital tools.
This factory represents the future of manufacturing. Think about it. Inside the factory there are mini data centres storing critical site data, all USB keys pass through a decontamination terminal, and sensors monitor machinery to predict – as opposed to reacting to all factory maintenance needs. What’s more – as a result of augmented reality, the factory is benefiting from a 7 per cent increase in productivity, and energy savings of up to 30 per cent. Seems like a no brainer.
The future of smart manufacturing
If we can be sure of one thing, it’s that the future is constantly changing. Right now, we’re focused on Industry 4.0. But – very soon, Industry 5.0 will be the talk of the town. Industry 5.0 will focus on the human elements. It will no longer be all about machine and system interconnectivity, but – about how machines and humans can work together – something known as cobotics.
We must remember that automation has not taken over human roles in the factory. Whilst new technologies are vital for future success, so too is human input. Be it by offering a sense of direction, or gathering and analysing data, there is still a lot to be done. Smart factories are here to stay, but they aren’t here to replace our jobs. They are here to help businesses remain competitive and successful. And – with greater success, comes more jobs. Ultimately, smarter factories will also facilitate more jobs in the long run.
Another important development is the arrival of 5G. It will bring faster downloads and faster responses from applications as a result of lower latency. Sensors will become even more widespread and responsive, and businesses will be able to react to information in real time. With 5G technology having now arrived in the UK, we must assess how it can make smart factories even smarter. Among the possible applications are preventative maintenance and controlling machines remotely.
To avoid falling off the bandwagon and keep pace with the competition, manufacturers need to embrace these smart technologies – and become a smart factory. Perhaps the nine lighthouses can shed a bit of light on what the future has to offer.
For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
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).
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
“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.