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SMART MANUFACTURING Ensuring reduced carbon footprint while digitising assets

Aug 8, 2019

Due to rapidly changing technology, the amount of e-waste has increased, which greatly impacts the environment and life on earth. Technology plays its part in industrial environment, too, with new technologies regularly being introduced in the market, thus, fuelling introduction of new products and electronics. The article explains how industries have taken note of this and brought environment as a core part of their CSR, and throws light on edge architectures which help factories reduce e-waste and also become smart.

Many organisations have increasingly put their focus on reducing e-waste with some even taking it up as a CSR activity. This is from the point of view of reducing the carbon footprint for a healthier environment. On the contrary, manufacturing setups and factories are consistently looking at upgrading their existing systems for becoming smart. However, this leads manufacturing setups and factories in a catch-22 situation. If we look at the factory perspective, both activities are extremely important, wherein one will help factories in becoming environment-friendly by reducing e-waste and the other will help them become increasingly automated and smart.

Smarter machines and factories

In order to stay competitive and ahead in competition, machines and factories need to focus on technology. As the world is moving in the direction of Industry 4.0, digitisation, and industrial IoT, the amount of focus on technology & incorporating new products for smarter operations has drastically increased. These new technologies focus not only on automating processes but also on efficient, optimised operations. This helps factories save millions from operation costs. Thus, incorporation of these technologies in machines and factories is also a topmost priority.

Ensuring higher machine availability reduces downtime, ensuring higher productivity. Incorporating predictive maintenance ensures reduction in unplanned downtimes leading to reduced wastage of raw materials and products. Monitoring energy in different forms helps factories save energy and thus, reduce operation costs. For machine builders incorporating virtualisation means reducing the time to market for new machines and avoiding rework. This saves them time and effort, which eventually helps them avoid waste. Gathering data from machines and lines enables factories to analyse the performance in real-time, enabling them to avoid human errors in data entry with making decisions spontaneously. These are just a few examples of the various benefits technology brings to machines and factories.

Smarter yet cleaner

This is a dilemma machines and factories face in making their operations smart yet be cleaner for the sake of the environment and health of life. Factories need to find a way not only to benefit from smart manufacturing concepts but also to care for the environment.

B&R Industrial Automation takes both aspects seriously with providing next generation smart automation solutions to machines and factories yet helping them in their endeavour of reducing e-waste. It offers machine builders advanced automation technology and solutions for incorporating them in the new machines for becoming ready for the future and becoming innovative. In addition, it provides brownfield factories with solutions via edge architectures, which allows them to keep using the legacy systems yet be able to incorporate the new technologies. Thus, any factory using the edge architectures from B&R will be able to leverage benefits the new technologies bring in. With addition to edge architectures, factories reduce e-waste as well as become smart.

Edge architectures

Factories are looking at ways to gather data from machines as well as lines and send it to IT systems for analytics. With intelligence becoming more and more decentralised & a growing volume and variety of machine and line data becoming available for analytics, the need for edge computing is on the rise. Edge architectures help collect data from sensors, actuators, machines, lines and plants and move it to IT systems for analytics and longterm storage. Edge architectures make life easy for factory operators & plant owners by providing a variety of options tailored to their requirements. These are add-on systems keeping the existing OT infrastructure untouched, thus, eliminating the need of generating e-waste for adding new technology.

Edge Connect allows them to gather data directly from sensors and actuators in the field, which can then be shared securely with any cloud platform using the open-source OPC UA protocol – making it the easiest way to collect data from the field. Edge Embedded provides basic intelligence, trends, reporting, data aggregation, and the possibility of viewing data locally on the shop floor before moving it to the cloud. With Edge Embedded, factories can divide computation between the cloud and on-site controllers.

Edge Controller provides factories with comprehensive onsite analytics, business intelligence and machine learning – giving them full control of their data. Edge Embedded and Edge Controller can also be equipped with energy and condition monitoring tools. Edge architectures are the perfect way to begin the transformation toward the smart, connected factories of the future.

Reducing carbon footprint

The industry understands the value and potential of digital transformation, which has opened the door for significant step change improvements. Edge architectures will continue to play a vital role in helping factories reduce their carbon footprint in their endeavour to become smart. B&R is a global automation provider with ground-breaking motion control, machine operation and control solutions for helping machine builders, factories and manufacturing units on their path of digitisation.

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  • Edge Embedded and Edge Controller can also be equipped with energy and condition monitoring tools

  • Tanay Sil

    Business Development Industry

    B&R Industrial Automation

    tanay.sil@br-automation.com

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