Industry 4.0: Empowered by Information

“There are millions of data points available, but the ones that matter number in the tens.”

How would you define Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is productivity through information, but its fulfilment comes in many flavors. Analytics is an obvious starting point, and an overused word, but it goes way beyond this. Information resides in many different levels of the system and can be used in an endless variety of ways—in the form of augmented reality for example, as a means to enable workforces to take alternative approaches to their tasks. Remember, productivity again can be defined in multiple ways. It can be the productivity of the machine, of the operators, of the machine builder, of integration—there are so many different levels. But that is a risk of Industry 4.0; people say it, but they don’t focus it. The most successful implementations I’ve seen are the ones that are most focussed.

How is it manifesting itself in the real world of pulp and paper? What is the incentive?
Wherever you go, brand owners and machine builders are seeking implementable solutions. Everybody knows the promise of Industry 4.0—they know where they’re aiming to go, they’re just having a hard time getting there. Our job is to get them there in a way that’s achievable and scalable.

For this industry it comes down to the fact that for lines that run continuously, downtime is very costly. Once a line is down, it’s a big, expensive effort to get it going again, so mitigating downtime is very valuable to a brand owner. This is one reason why it pays to look at the process as a whole. One occurrence of off-standard production upstream can mean a stoppage downstream, so taking an overview of the entire process in an Industry 4.0 approach really is the way to go.

What are the main pitfalls?
The greatest success comes when implementation is broken down into bitesize pieces. Taking on the whole task can be a recipe for failure. Industry 4.0 is like a shiny object—it catches the attention, but until it’s useful you haven’t achieved anything. You might have taken in more data, which might feel good, but what did it really accomplish? It needs to be a value-based solution.

On the subject of value-based solutions, how do you monetize them? People get excited about the concept, but what is it going to mean for their business?
It’s monetized differently at OEMs and end users. OEMs can monetize through additional service contracts, improved customer support or differentiation, which sells more machines. End users have more of a direct monetization through risk mitigation, reduced mean time to repair (MTTR) and improved workforce enablement. All have tangible value if a baseline is understood and the results are compared after you’ve applied an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution.

You talk of machine builders and brand owners. What do they each bring?
The application of IIoT solutions complements the ecosystem. End users have a great opportunity to apply IIoT solutions for things pertaining to line, plant, and enterprise operations. They are experts in their own plant operations, but don’t have all of the detailed knowledge of individual machine construction and function. This is why machine builders have an ideal opportunity to add value by utilizing IIoT solutions to solve “machine level” challenges. They know the machine the best and have all the knowledge of its operation. It will be difficult for them to expand their IIoT solutions beyond the scope of their supply. As a result, a combined approach to an ecosystem represents the best way to drive results for both sides.

How do you make Industry 4.0 happen?
We provide at the machine level some very consumable Industry 4.0 solutions for the OEM because OEMs do not yet have the resources in-house for building all the relevant analytics and IIoT solutions. So our approach is: “Here’s a recipe—follow these steps and you’ll get these pre-determined results.” We can also add value because we understand the brand owners’ problems. Our control systems can be found worldwide, so we are helping build with familiar ecosystems aiming right at the things that matter most. The OEMs benefit because they can target what the brand owner was seeking. The brand owner benefits because they get a properly targeted solution.

What are the main challenges of implementation?
One key challenge is the correct selection of data and, through knowing what to do with this data, turning it into information. There are millions of data points out there, and the ones that matter are in the tens. Another challenge is the definition of the problem. What do you want to avoid? What do you want to enhance? What do you want to optimize? The more focus you have on what you want to achieve, the better off you’re going to be.

Can you give an example of a problem where you have applied an Industry 4.0 solution in the paper industry?
We can’t name customers, but the following is a real paper industry case study that is quite typical of the scenarios we encounter. The client had an ad hoc, home-grown system to gather and display real-time data that was cumbersome. There were limited resources to upgrade, but it was clear they needed to move from a “push” to a “pull” system; in other words, from the replacement of components based on predicted condition to their replacement based on their actual condition—a more efficient way of managing resources. It was also necessary to identify, control, and eliminate bottlenecks and downtime issues.
The solution we provided was FactoryTalk manufacturing software to record and present real-time information from the line via PanelView human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and virtually using VMware. The networked nature of this system and software is scalable, so it can be expanded to accommodate the brand-owner’s developing needs.

What was the outcome?
Full return on investment (ROI) was achieved in just six days, mainly as a result of increasing overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) from 40-45 percent to 60-65 percent. This might seem extraordinary, but it is actually quite representative. The improved access to real-time information helped operators set correct line balance, identify bottlenecks and machine constraints, and reduce product rejects.

How about a situation where there was no data capture in place?
We had just such a situation at a tissue manufacturer where there was no system in place to capture equipment data such as speed and exact downtime. It was therefore impossible to provide OEE metrics. Identifying the causes of downtime was pure guestimation. Senior management had no regular, independent reports about problems, and any reporting done was both time-consuming and prone to errors.

How was this tackled?
These challenges were addressed using FactoryTalk manufacturing intelligence software, which monitors equipment and provides accurate, timely, detailed and specific information on current machine performance. It converts data into information—an OEE figure—and automatically presents it via web-based dashboards. Line supervisors can monitor and manage key performance indicators (KPIs), OEE, and downtime causes in real time to uncover and remedy the root causes of inefficiency.

What are the main outcomes for this tissue manufacturer?
They are now capturing all electronic signals from their equipment, including start and stop times, speed changes and any modification of settings. They can view the volume of product produced against planned production targets and they monitor this via customized HMI screens. These screens also display lost opportunities such as the amount of scrapped material or production loss due to downtime or slowdowns.

How about cyber security?
Cyber security is real and cyber attacks and raids on intellectual property are happening at an alarming scale. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a brownfield or greenfield project, cyber security needs to be a cornerstone of an ecosystem and promoted by the brand owner so that the machine builder knows what is expected. It’s also important to understand the balance point between security and usability. You have to take advantage of the exchange of information in a controlled way, but not so controlled that no one can gain access and provide value back to you as the brand owner. Before you implement Industry 4.0, you’ve got to be secure first—not just one-shot cyber secure, but for the lifecycle of each phase of the project. This is something that has been in our DNA at Rockwell Automation for a long time.

Does Rockwell have a distinct approach to Industry 4.0?
It’s not only cyber security that’s in our DNA; the practice of what is defined as Industry 4.0 itself is a journey we started long before the white papers came out. The application of software-oriented solutions to improve productivity is a space where we are very experienced and comfortable. Also, we have the combination of technology and people to solve problems, so it’s not just, “Here’s a package, good luck.” We bring it together. We actually deliver solutions based on an understanding of the ecosystem from end to end—machine builder to brand owner. It is a very comprehensive strategy based on a complete portfolio focused on Industry 4.0 and diagnostics. And it doesn’t matter what you already have in your manufacturing site. We have a lot of agnostic solutions—in other words, they are unbiased toward any existing technology. If it’s all Rockwell Automation solutions, then there are some additional benefits that come, but we are able to provide a solution regardless of the legacy. As long as it is possible to gain access to data inside the machine, which we’re really good at, then older assets can be enabled to play their part within the brand owner’s new vision.

Where are we in the evolution of Industry 4.0?
We’re still early in the curve. Even if the white papers have been out for a while, we are still very early in the cycle of implementation. So it is important to build flexibility, adaptability, and scalability into the system because the future is still unfolding.