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Industry 4.0: From Concept to Reality - Connectivity and Mobile

August 29, 2017

Industry 4.0: From Concept to Reality - Connectivity and Mobile

MES applications should be at the focal point for any Industry 4.0 implementation, but not just any MES can be considered the right MES, especially, when the application is deemed most important in the Industry 4.0 set up. We highlighted previously that an MES needs to have certain capabilities to be considered Industry 4.0 ready.

Today we will examine two vital capabilities that an MES absolutely must have: Connectivity and Mobile. Connectivity implies the ability of an MES to accommodate IoT and allow for events to be captured dynamically with full traceability across the operation. Mobile implies the fact that just being available on mobile devices is no longer acceptable. The MES should evolve to allow mobile device users to create their own interfaces, across device platforms and at the same time be fully capable of creating a digital twin of the operation, while allowing concepts like Augmented Reality to be leveraged.

Now, connectivity becomes so important especially at the initial stage of Industry 4.0 implementation, because unlike the past, the MES is not just required to execute the operation with guidance from operator. The MES needs to connect with smart devices and materials and allow for intelligent decision making based on capture and report of each and every shop floor event.

The MES application should allow for dynamic and decentralized orchestration of the process, where the shop-floor becomes a market place and production is routed based on the best (cheapest, fastest, most-accurate) path, as opposed to the fixed path of the past. The MES application needs to provide this connectivity by being the IoT layer above the communication and security layers of the smart devices and materials, also referred as CPPS and CPS.

So the MES in an Industry 4.0 scenario not only connects the operation to the enterprise, it also controls the operation by creating an intelligence and analysis based automation, unforeseen in past MES applications.

Another important point worth mentioning is that the MES application should be capable of collaborating with a combination of smart and conventional resources. This is because not all process resources might be IoT enabled, thereby making connectivity a challenge, and the right MES application would actually be able to overcome this hurdle and allow for event based intelligent management through complete CPS and CPPS connectivity.

With a smart MES at the center of the operation, complete traceability is possible for both equipment and material, since each shop-floor event and transaction is recorded, analyzed and reported. This kind of connectivity has clear and evident benefits, like an equipment’s performance may be monitored before and after a maintenance event, samples from particular lots or batches may be retained for detailed analysis, and their collection may be triggered through the MES automatically, based on intelligence gathered from the shop floor.

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I4.0 concept: enabling technologies, cyber-physical systems, etc.

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Mobile is another key capability. The MES application must possess intelligent and intuitive GUI configurations, where the users are able to access and assess the information they want and the way they want it.

The MES application needs to allow for the creation of a digital twin of the process for the operation personnel, where they can experience the shop-floor, with its continuous and dynamic transactions as they occur on their mobile devices. The users should be able to leverage all MES functionalities, through the mobile interface, and even learn about equipment on the go.

A good example for this scenario, is when a maintenance technician walks up to an equipment which needs servicing, he/she points their smart device toward the equipment and the MES reflects all the information pertaining to the said piece of equipment, right from its configuration, to last production run, current and previous yield and the problem detected/reported.

This example is a scenario where the MES is Augmented Reality enabled, the benefits an organization can have if they deploy an MES which allows for above mentioned are quite tangible and some organizations are already experiencing these benefits, such as increased machine uptime, increased throughput and process effectiveness reduced need and dependence on human resources.

Next time we explore why the new intelligent MES needs to reside in the cloud and enable advanced analytics in its I 4.0 functionality spectrum!!

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by Julie Fraser, Iyno Advisors