Panel Builder System Integrator

Boulting Technology

February 5, 2018

In November, the UK Government announced that 2018 would be the Year of Engineering. This coupled with the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and Made Smarter Review has signalled a major vote of confidence in the sector as it pledges to help make the UK a world leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by 2030.

With Industrial Digital Technology’s playing such a significant role in the transformation of the sector, what should manufacturers be investing in?

Real applications of virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR), which digitally simulates a product or environment and augmented reality (AR), where the digital product or information is projected on to a real-world background, have traditionally been consumer-focused applications, aimed mostly at gamers.

However, with equipment such as the Microsoft HoloLens now being aimed purely at business applications, this is changing.

Boulting Environmental Services uses virtual reality to provide its clients with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in their projects, develop designs more clearly prior to beginning construction work and reduce mistakes.

Virtual reality will become prominent during the design of a facility and it could even have applications for building information modelling (BIM). Inputting computer aided design (CAD) files into a VR application can allow the designer, engineer and client move around the product and facility, viewing it under a different light without the need to produce expensive prototypes. VR also has the potential to revolutionise training, particularly when working in hazardous environments. Engineers can explore and mange a range of scenarios without any risk to themselves or equipment.

Maintenance is where augmented reality comes into its own. AR can instantly provide important information to maintenance engineers wearing AR headsets, while allowing them to keep their hands free.

For example, when combined with remote monitoring and dashboard user interfaces, the status of a drive or motor control centre can be visualised next to the system in question. This type of technology is already being employed by companies with multiple sites, allowing for the comparison of key performance indicators (KPIs) between plants, learning from one-another to improve process efficiency and asset lifespan.

Similarly, when combined with a risk based maintenance schedule such as Boulting’s BRISK, each piece of machinery can be colour coded according to the risk it poses to the plant.

The rise of artificial intelligence

Machine learning is a concept that has been around for decades, where the computer doesn’t rely on rule-based programming, but instead operates using algorithms that can adapt and learn from data.

Closely related to this is artificial intelligence (AI), a branch of computer science aiming to build machines capable of intelligent behaviour.

One of the major benefits of AI is advanced data analysis, where data is collected, stored and analysed automatically.

Dependant on the results of the analysis, processes can be automatically altered, increasing productivity, reducing costs or even preventing production downtime. Combined with trend prediction and predictive maintenance schemes, efficiency and yield rates can be greatly increased across a manufacturing plant.

Smarten up your factory

Legacy systems were traditionally designed to operate in isolation and are often unable to connect to the wider network and the internet. However, since the advent of Industry 4.0, many plant managers are keen to connect systems and take advantage of the benefits of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), including enhanced data collection, interpretation and use. The answer for many is to retrofit their systems to enable IIoT capabilities.

Smart sensors, data analysis systems and connectivity to the IIoT are just some of the benefits promised by the range of retrofitting options on the market.

The popularity of retrofitting existing equipment with these technologies using a maintenance budget is only going to increase. As equipment wears and requires replacement, the best choice for many will be a smart sensing motor or motor control centre which can connect to IIoT.

The introduction of Industry 4.0 technologies has left no stone or industry untouched over the past few years, particularly given recent price drops. 2018 is shaping up to be the year where new and exciting technologies such as VR and AI make their way onto the plant floor, making it truly a factory of the future. 

Changing Scene

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ABB

ABB has announced a strategic realignment of its global transformer manufacturing, engineering and service footprint to enhance competitiveness in a dynamic market environment marked by increasing competition and consolidation in the rail industry. The move is part of the ‘Power Up’ transformation program in ABB’s Power Grids division.

In the United States, ABB will consolidate its power transformers manufacturing footprint by investing in its South Boston and Crystal Springs units and discontinue production at its unit in St. Louis, Missouri, which will continue to focus on engineering and service activities.

In addition, ABB will establish new traction transformer manufacturing facilities at its South Boston unit to serve rail industry needs. ABB will also expand its medium and large power transformer factory in Varennes, Canada, to better serve the Canadian market.

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 HartingHARTING`s compact yet powerful edge computing system MICA (Modular Industrial Computing Architecture) now offers wireless functionality. HARTING teamed with Arrow Electronics, a member of the MICA.network, to develop the MICA Wireless Sensor Networks solution that adds wireless communications to the machine-monitoring system. The two companies unveiled this MICA enhancement at SPS IPC Drives trade show in Nuremberg, Germany.

With the additional module, HARTING MICA is now able to capture and process data through SmartMESH IP (DUST), Bluetooth Low Energy and a XBee slot, regardless of the existing machine controls.

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Wohner

The new Wöhner CrossBoard is the modular system solution with which safe power distribution up to 125A can be quickly and easily realised, especially in machine and plant engineering.

The CrossBoard is available in a width of 225mm and 405mm. Both can be combined with each other or with other Wöhner systems, such as the 60Classic or 30Compact busbar system.

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