As a process and product engineer for a fortune 100 company that manufactured high value chemical products, my job involved analysis of a tremendous amount of process and product information.
At one point, Kodak continuously evaluated over two hundred thousand process and product parameters for all production orders in the worldwide film supply chain. The parameters being evaluated included: key process parameters, such as chemical reactor feed flows and temperatures; product release parameters, such as number of defects in a 10,000 ft master roll of coated film, and the condition of critical process components, such as pump vibration level, heat exchanger approach temperatures, motor current draws and control valve positions. Automatic alerts are generated to alert maintenance when parts need to be replaced or operations when a product just made needs to be held and not released to downstream operations. How did Kodak accomplish this level of aggressive monitoring in a global supply chain with flexible manufacturing systems and thousands of product recipes? In short, the answer is Process Monitor.
Recently a team of Optimation’s web conveyance experts teamed up with a pair of Eastman Kodak’s IT experts to create a means to demonstrate the power of applying a process monitoring tool to a known but illusive problem. The demonstration involved using Optimation’s Thin Web Rewinder, one of the pilot machines located in our Media Conveyance Facility, and Kodak’ proprietary Process Monitor software. We elected to use roller traction as the parameter of interest, because it is a functional attribute that is subtle, making it challenging to measure and status over time.
Robots are beginning to show up everywhere. Of all the amazing technical developments that are part of Industry 4.0, the fastest growing sector is robotics. By 2020, over $100 billion a year will be invested in robots and this amount is projected to double every two years.
I recently attended the New York State Manufacturing Conference in Troy, hosted by the CATS center at RPI. The focus of the conference was advancing technology and manufacturing in New York. I had the opportunity to be part of the conference and gave a talk titled, “Building on New York’s Manufacturing Legacy in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0.” Industry 4.0 is an amazing step forward in technology and defines an exciting era for manufacturing which began just this decade.
I recently attended the New York State Manufacturing Conference hosted by the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS) center at Rensselaer. It was a spirted event attended by participants from a variety of individuals and companies whose primary focus was promoting and advancing technology and manufacturing in New York. Robots and cobots were everywhere. More than 70 organizations were represented from industry, academia, economic development and technology centers.
During the past decade, the Internet of Things has been steadily advancing and becoming a part of our lives. We get texts from our cars when the tire pressure is low or suggesting we should stop and buy another gallon of windshield washer fluid. We can turn on the oven or close the garage door at home from our office. These opportunities are supported by small amounts of data and provide simple solutions.
Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) promise to make more data and better analytic applications available for industry. Driven by high powered analytics, including machine learning and artificial intelligence engines, both promise operational benefits including lower costs through improved Key Performance Indicators (KPI), such as First Pass Yield, Non-Standard Downtime or Overall Equipment Effectiveness.
In November I attended the Rockwell Automation Fair in Philadelphia. The conference and exhibition were all about automation, advances in automation and a display of the newest control and manufacturing technologies by Rockwell and their partners. While it was about their proprietary technologies and products, it was also representative of where the entire world of automation industry is going. Crowds were large, and the most highly attended booths were the ones showing off Industry 4.0 related technologies.
An interesting manufacturing tool is emerging as more companies seek to mine, or take advantage, of the process data their production systems generate. The tool, called Process Monitor (PM), uses statistical analysis methods to crunch the manufacturing process data, and predict whether or not the production system is operating within preset control limits that indicate an acceptable product outcome.