4.0 Software Technology

In an era where data mining plays a strategic role in the industrial sector, Progea proposes solutions that satisfy the needs of Industry 4.0 projects stemming from the software platform to the communication server

by Noemi Sala

The National Industry 4.0 plan launched by the government has brought awareness to companies that analyzing field data is essential for improving productivity, reducing waste and increasing profits. It is quite clear to everyone that decision making is more effective when largely based on sound data in real-time. At factory level, these things have long been known and OT operators are used to managing information flows from the PLC towards the factory SCADA, to obtain efficient productivity. Unfortunately, this information often remains at factory level (OT), and only part of it reaches IT operators in charge of making decisions to do with production planning based on orders, logistics, warehouse and administration for instance. However, such decision making requires an accurate analysis of what is needed, the field technology, volume of data to deal with, the reliability of the infrastructure, performances and security. Malfunctions, downtimes and rejects reduce the efficient running of production lines.

A modern and scalable software platform
For your Industry 4.0 project to be successful, you need to opt for a software platform that has well-defined features that primarily, amongst other things, offers reliable connectivity. Connecting to all the machines and business applications to collect and distribute important information to aid company production and information processes is the life line that keeps a company competitive. The software platform should be positioned half way between the field and management.
Since these projects should initially be built to last, they need to be based on modern technology that is both scalable and open to enable business management on a long term basis. A scalable platform should permit you to invest little on developing a project to then integrate additional machinery and business systems as needed later on. OPC UA is the most current data transmission model for open and modern systems. However, what are the other characteristics that make a platform ideal for all the business management needs?

The importance of establishing Cloud connections with safe drivers
Digitally focused organizations should steer towards implementing software that is simple to use with the ability to perform a diverse range of functions. The possibility to store information on the server and local databases, located in other facilities, and in the Cloud is surely another essential characteristic that permits big data circulating in the company network to be handled correctly.
The Cloud connection is established through an appropriate light and safe communication driver that makes collecting data extremely easy while also guaranteeing their integrity even in the event of temporary internet connection loss. Data recorded on the Cloud platform are then displayed on Dashboard screen pages that allow the user to insert and configure Widgets and ready-to-use objects. Progea provides the technology needed for Industry 4.0. Its Movicon.NExT software platform is used for projects of this type.

Data mining and data visualization
The amount of data arriving from the field has gotten so huge that it now needs to be mined. Data mining is a set of techniques and methods with an overall goal to extract useful information from large quantities of data (stored on databases, data warehouses, cloud platforms and other), through using automatic or semi-automatic methods and the scientific, business/industrial or operational use of it. One of the most recent developments in data mining is data visualization, a sector specialized in infographics, which not only deals with making text graphically intelligible, but also enters into a more direct relationship with the structuring of databases and the export of graphics from data. The Industry 4.0 projects are among the main factors that have contributed to the development of data mining in the industrial field. In particular, the increase in productivity has become possible by analyzing field data to identify the weak spots and inefficiencies of the production chain from support to logistics and other parties involved.

Vertical modules quick to integrate in the platform
Progea has developed vertical modules that can be quickly integrated in the Movicon.NExT platform using Plug-In technology. Pro.Lean and Pro.Energy are mainly used in Industry 4.0-oriented projects.
Pro.Lean is the ideal module that will enable you to get everything in your organization under control. As a Movicon.NExT module, it allows connection to any field device in order to collect important data for calculating the OEE, KPI and Downtime.
Running alongside productivity efficiency is energy use which is an integral part of managing production costs. Pro.Energy is the tool that enables customers to monitor energy consumption and intervene in those areas where energy waste or overload is detected.
In this way, energy consumption can be calculated in reference to production batch and as a consequence also each individual piece produced. Pro.Energy connects to gas, water and electric meters.

Industrial communication server
Progea has also developed another product called Connect for those who only need to connect to the field using information systems. It is their new industrial communication server designed to offer simple interconnectivity between different devices and the management, monitoring and control of different types of apparatus and instrumentation for automation.
The OPC UA standard makes it possible to render real-time information available to any third-party software application, both at SCADA/HMI level and MES/ERP system level, guaranteeing connections between Operational Technology (OT) level and Information Technology (IT) of modern organizations, according to the Industry 4.0 requirements.
Connext also comes with specific IIoT protocols that allow the quick and safe handling of an enormous quantity of data through using SQL Azure in the Cloud or Progea’s Cloud Databoom platform.