Food: the PLC Panel for 4.0 Production

Thanks to Eaton’s PLC panel with capacitive multi-touch technology, a company was able to automate and digitise the production cycle of fresh pizzas: Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning provided the perfect 4.0 recipe

The enormous amount of data produced by companies in every sector, collected and analysed correctly, can represent an invaluable source of insights to improve processes, define corporate strategies and drive business growth. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning play a central role in the management of Big Data and, especially in the industrial sector, they enable the introduction of innovative functionalities, and entrust the intelligent machine with the ability to make increasingly complex decisions autonomously, quickly and reliably. Thanks to IIoT data, companies can have greater visibility and control, even remotely, over the operation and performance of machines (to enable predictive maintenance) as well as the final product, being able to recognise any defects.

Predictive and prescriptive maintenance and digital twin development

By constantly acquiring data in real time, predictive algorithms are able to analyse the performance of machinery and compare it with optimal parameters. This enables the prediction of the risk of failure and the time remaining before it will occur, and timely intervention to avoid downtime and ensure production continuity. At present, the predictive model is the most strategic model for companies, as it enables them to optimise productivity and improve customer relations in after-sales and service activities. However, at the same time the so-called “prescriptive maintenance” is spreading, combining failure prediction with human analysis of parameters linked to business objectives, recommending on time the operational measures needed to make strategic decisions and improve the end result. In addition, IIoT, Cloud and AI are often used to develop a digital twin of the machine, that is, a virtual replica of the machine allowing its performance to be analysed. This is then compared with expected production values to understand any problems, optimise processes and improve performance.

A PLC panel designed to improve human-machine interaction

In order to enable companies to use the new Industry 4.0 technologies so as to support their competitiveness, Eaton offers several intelligent solutions to support them in their digital transformation. Among these, XV300 stands out: this PLC panel with capacitive multi-touch technology can be used as an HMI or HMI-PLC by integrating a programmable controller through CoDeSys software. XV300 is designed to improve human-machine interaction and simplify system management. A cutting-edge and particularly sensitive user interface allows the integration of multimedia elements (such as video, PDF and web content), gesture control and multimedia integration. The XV300 PLC panel is available with a 7, 10.1 or 15 inch widescreen display with hardened, smooth and anti-reflective glass. Besides, the 800 MHz Arm Cortex-A9 CPU with 512 MB RAM enables high system performance in terms of power and graphics. On the other hand, the XV300’s industrial compliance, reinforced by the Windows Embedded Compact 7 Pro real-time operating system, ensures reliable performance by eliminating the shutdown procedures often associated with Windows operating systems. Finally, XV300 PLC panels can be used in both horizontal and vertical execution, adapting to the installation site and offering the necessary visualisations. They are also ideal for industrial applications in complex environments, thanks to their sleek design and panel with a flat, anti-reflective and resistant glass.

Pizza production turns 4.0

The fields of application are highly varied, and companies of all sectors and sizes can benefit from the application of this type of solution. A recent example is that of the Italian company Megic Pizza, which since 1999 has been producing pizzas available in the refrigerated counter of supermarkets, in Italy and in other countries around the world. With the support of Dolphin Srl, the company chose Eaton’s solutions to automate and digitize the fresh pizza production cycle, organizing order information in a timely and accurate manner, and using remote control and management to reduce waste and unwanted downtime.

With the implementation of the XV300 PLC panel with XN 300 I/O, Megic Pizza has developed a system capable of: automatically sending information to the machines about the quantity and type of raw materials to be used for each batch; managing different pizza qualities and variations to optimize production and reduce waste; monitoring processes in real time and building statistical reports to analyze and improve all critical points.

Besides, XV300 allows to receive timely alerts in case of problems with the central system software, allowing the maintenance technician to act on the production line in the exact point where the fault occurred, even remotely, avoiding loss of time and unwanted downtime.

The benefits of digitisation in figures

The digital transformation enabled by Eaton’s solutions has led to significant improvements in process and cost management, opening up new opportunities for the company and generating a 35% growth in business over the past five years. Specifically, the automation tools implemented have brought about a 20% improvement in productivity and a 15% increase in line performance, enabling a 30% reduction in pizza forming waste and saving up to €80,000 per year in production costs. Finally, thanks to Eaton’s solutions, Megic Pizza has taken full advantage of the incentives and benefits provided by the government to support the industrial 4.0 transformation, including hyper amortisation, thus recovering 20% of the investment.