The factory of the future is a vision of how manufacturers should enhance production by making use of, among other things, plant digitalization. According to Gerrit Verweij, team leader Process Automation department at Kiremko, there are challenges that need to be faced, while working towards the factory of the future, but these roadblocks can and must be faced in stages, step-by-step.
Stage 1 is computerization.
A lot of production and machine data is currently not saved or linked or remains spread over various systems at operational level. The production and machine data are not managed centrally. Track and trace is therefore hardly possible, if at all. A lot of data remain unused, and PLC systems are not suitable for processing this amount of data. Step 1 is therefor to structure and group data into data that are needed at the control level and data that are needed at the monitoring level. There are already standards for this such as ISA88; OMAC / PackML.
Stage 2 is connectivity between OT (shopfloor) and the IT (topfloor) level.
Security and firewall architectures are a challenge here. Our technology is already prepared for this step and there are already many hardware and software solutions that guarantee safety. There are also many options for setting up cloud connections for data storage and/or calculations.
These first two steps are also called the digitalization step. These steps must first be realized before we can actually continue to work towards the factory of the future.
Stage 3 is visibility (what has happened?).
To get insights on your process, all the gathered raw data will have to be placed in the right context to transform the data into information that will actually provide the insights we are looking for. To do this properly, co-creation is needed. Equipment manufacturers and potato processors will have to work closely together.
Stage 4 is transparency (why has it happened?).
Software such as Matlab and Python already offer tools for machine learning and simulations. There is also a lot of software available to merge the physical and virtual world; “the digital twin”, which helps with analyses. Many algorithms are being developed to make predictions. Cloud solutions are available for data storage and scalable computing capacity (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS)
Stage 5 is predictability (what is going to happen?).
Stage 6 is adaptability (make it happen!).
Predictive maintenance; model predictive control.
Stages 5 and 6 are the most interesting steps. These steps are in their infancy and many experiments are being done in all branches of industry.
The most important thing is that we realize that the factory of the future is a process where every stage has to be passed, and that we can therefore take obstacles step by step.
Kiremko stands for partnership. Partnerships with equipment manufactures and with potato processors. By means of the Kiremko Masterclasses, a yearly event in which we bring all mentioned parties together, we try to learn from each other and bring craft and science together in potato processing and work towards the factory of the future.