Digital Manufacturing – The Future of Automation
Published on : Friday 07-10-2022
Prasad Kulkarni calls for a paradigm shift from traditional manufacturing process to digitalised and advanced methods and technologies.
Digital manufacturing refers to the application of computerised systems and advanced digital technologies in manufacturing industries, supply chains, products and processes. Digital manufacturing technologies are a blend of various innovations that are bound together to improve production efficiency, quality and reduction of maintenance and utility cost of the manufacturing industries. Digital manufacturing leverages operational and planning data, computational power of edge and cloud technologies, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to streamline manufacturing operations and execute production smoothly.
Digital manufacturing technology by Mitsubishi Electric
During this era of digitalisation and innovation in technologies, the focus of manufacturing industries has shifted to advanced and smart manufacturing processes because of the power of the integrated automation process which helps to manage the efficient production processes, identifies and escalates the errors that reduces turn-around time to respond to issue and take corrective actions.
Factory Automation Systems by Mitsubishi Electric offers comprehensive digital manufacturing solution also known as e-F@ctory Solutions, that leverages latest digital technologies such as big data, IIoT, Edge Computing, advanced robotic solutions, simulation software, etc., to build a technological ecosystem that helps the end user to achieve digital transformation in their manufacturing environment.
Its core edge computing gathers data from the shop-floor that brings data computation, processing and buffering closer or near to data sources and responds quickly to anomalies and alerts the system before machine/system failure happens which is a key benefit realised in preventing machine breakdowns and quality improvements.
e-F@ctory has helped many companies to solve various issues with their optimal solution and streamlined the tasks at the shop floor with:
1. Productivity – e-F@ctory offers complete management of production information by real-time monitoring of operation status for all production processes at an equipment level. Collection and analysis of shop-floor data identify the cause behind problems and swift improvement. By utilising MAISART – Mitsubishi Electric’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) along with Collaborative Robots on the manufacturing shop floor, digital manufacturing creates an environment where human and robots operate simultaneously, thus improves operating rate of line with long man-hours, supports production that is high-mix, small volume and high cycle.
2. Quality – By utilisation of Mitsubishi Electric’s MAISART AI technology, which uses deep learning and reinforcement learning techniques, a system can detect the anomalies in the process by identifying rare items, observations, patterns that significantly differs from the normal items or the patterns and provides real-time feedback to improve processes to avoid rejections and thus improves quality.
3. Safety and Security – Smart factory contributes to the safe and secure production environment through high performance visualisation and inspection systems using 3D Modelling, network cameras and high-speed sensors.
4. Preventive Maintenance – By introducing the digital manufacturing Starter Package that leverages Internet of Things (IoT), the system helps to maximise equipment accessibility and predict machine failures whilst providing corrective measures before any obstacle arises.
For a smart factory to be achievable, the real-time utilisation of production shop-floor data, upgradation of existing legacy systems and seamless integration of IT-OT and horizontal integration of enterprise systems is essential. With a digitised factory, utilising “edge computing,” for data processing between the shop floor and IT systems, it is possible to derive actionable inputs and enable quick decision making. e-F@ctory contributes at three different layers of manufacturing which are as follows:
I. The Shop Floor: At this layer, the system collects data through its data collectors, regardless of the device manufacturer or network, whether it is a legacy system or new systems. The use of its core products such as MES Interface Card (for connectivity with ODBC compliant databases), OPC UA Server Module (to connect OPC clients) and ICONICS Suite enable uninterrupted data flow, tracking of data communication, visualisation and analysis of manufacturing shop floor.
II. The Edge Computing: Here, the digital factory utilises its “MELIPC” Industrial Computer and Edgecross open Software Platform that controls the collection, processing and diagnosis and feedback of data utilised in edge computing. Software platform abstracts hierarchical management of production floor lines, equipment and devices. By utilising its Edge Application such as Real Time Data Analyzer (RDA) which is data analysis/diagnosis software with statistical methods and AI, smart production enables offline analysis and real-time diagnosis of a wide variety of data from the shop floor and predicts early detection of faults.
III. The intense IT system: At this layer, advanced manufacturing connects to Enterprise Systems such as ERP that helps complete production planning and control and streamlines the execution of manufacturing processes.
Empowering industries with digital manufacturing
a. Electric/Electronics Segment – In order to reduce human errors, like in part loading, surface implementation, PCB assembly, unit assembly and shipment. Digital manufacturing helps them by providing robots equipped with force sensors and work support systems, which helps prevent mistakes, notify about the shortages, and reduce time.
b. Automotive/Automotive Parts Segment – By offering optimal solutions through forming common platforms and alliances with many different partners. Smart production solves various issues like responding to mixed production schedules and improves production speed and quality. This solution also improves the production volume, can be monitored in real-time, shortens the inspection time, corrects process sequence and nozzle position and can inspect the history.
c. Food and Beverage Segment – The demand to maintain quality and efficiency, digital manufacturing provides solutions like versatile visualisation and inspection systems using cameras and sensors which helps to solve issues like maintaining temperatures, humidity, and pressure, reduce equipment set-up changeover time, improve food traceability, and to perform multifaceted inspections. By this, it improves the productivity and quality, improves nozzle control, Synchronisation with high-speed, inspects through high performance visualisation and forecast information of the production line.
d. Distribution Segment – To operate together as a single system, digital manufacturing helps them with a high-speed sorting system, promotion of automation, predictive maintenance using remote monitoring, and other innovative features which will aid in high-speed control utilising, quick loading/unloading, real-time data collection through the network, power outage countermeasures using a UPS and many more.
India, being a growing manufacturing hub, needs advanced technology to help wide-ranging indigenous to large-scale manufacturers. Mitsubishi Electric is helping the Indian manufacturing industry with solutions that cover targeted segments for the country’s growth.
Mitsubishi Electric India aims to support the manufacturers to start their journey in digital transformation with e-F@actory that proposes an optimal solution by connecting all levels of manufacturing processes. Besides this, the digital manufacturing solutions support each industry type which can achieve enhanced optimisation with higher productivity and efficiency in the organisation, thereby, making optimal utilisation of the resources through effectively implementing them in a cost-efficient system.
A paradigm shift from traditional manufacturing process to digitalised and advanced methods and technologies can result in better product quality, improved decision making, reduce the possibility of error manifolds and increase job opportunities ultimately resulting in cost saving and building better bonds between human and upcoming digitalised technologies. The transformations digital manufacturing will bring in shall revolutionise the world of manufacturing in the upcoming years.
Prasad Kulkarni is Solution Consultant – Smart Manufacturing, Factory Automation and Industrial Division, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt Ltd. Prasad holds Bachelors in Electronics and Masters in Instrumentation from Pune University. His professional experience spans over 10 years in the Automation Industry. He started his career as Sales Engineer and developed a good understanding of ISA-95 framework and layers that covers Field Instrumentation, Automation Systems (PLC/SCADA/Historian), IT-OT Integration, MES &IIoT. Prasad also established Industrial Automation implementation credentials for Smart Manufacturing with good understanding of IIoT communication protocols like OPC UA, MQTT, MTConnect and other Industrial Communication protocols of OT Systems.