Industry 4.0 & Industrial IOT. Where can we go from here?

Industry 4.0, Industrial internet of things
Industry 4.0, Piling and construction industry

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution. Originating from large smart factories across the world, enabling a data-driven approach to allow for better decision-making. Production operation data can be combined with operational data. From ERP systems, supply chain and customer services, creating a whole new level of visibility.

Collecting and processing large amounts of big data from sensors around the factory floor. Gives real-time data to help with predictive maintenance, minimizing machine downtime and costly halts to production runs. Vibration sensors on bearings are just one of the many ways’ machinery in factories can be monitored. Thanks to AI and a smartphone, quality control personnel can view this information from the cloud anywhere in the world.

Industry 4.0 technologies do not have to be factory-based systems. These concepts can be utilized across many industrial sectors, manufacturing, oil and gas, construction, mining and piling.

Why did we take the leap?

‘‘I have regularly been called out to site to resolve issues with piling machines, and upon arrival found that the E-Stop had been unknowingly pressed. Or the coil on a hydraulic solenoid valve had reached the end of its life and caused a short in the electrical system. All of these issues and more can be fixed remotely without a costly call-out charge.’’

Oliver Noakes

Originally, I desired to count the number of free fall cycles made by the drop hammer rigs we operated. This was difficult to achieve as my early AutoDrop system was built on an Arduino dev board. With each write to the EEPROM, this would reduce the eventual life of the board.

It was not until we began designing the RPR DH10.3. I realized I needed to use an industrial grade PLC (Programmable Logic Controller). If the machine was to operate and be programmed, it had to conform to UK and European standards. Following on from this, the PLC manufacturers also offer a 4G connected GSM/Ethernet gateway. Enabling easy integration of the two systems.

Once I began, monitoring the data from the cloud using web-based software and an MQTT broker with customizable tools. The possibilities were now endless. Each day, I would come in with a new idea. Of how I could visualize and use the data I was receiving. Not only can we now see the live system status. Read and write programmes remotely to the machines out in the field. Additionally, we can assist operators with faults and maintenance scheduling.

Industry 4.0 & Industrial IOT. Where can we go from here?
Industry 4.0 & Industrial IOT. Where can we go from here?
Industrial IOT Remote monitoring software

While in our early days of dev boards, I could not save the counted free fall cycles. Now, I use this data in three different ways. Firstly, the total free fall count is used to gauge the life of the solenoid valve and coil. Secondly, we count the manual operations. These are activated from the portable control unit using a momentary toggle switch. Consequently, we can use the data we collect to advise our customers when a replacement would be deemed necessary. Finally, we count the free fall cycles per shift. Allowing the company who own the machine/machines. Who also have a restricted customer access account to see progress from day to day.

Greater value for money.

The possibilities are endless. I am constantly developing my ideas and improving our systems to give our customers greater value for money. Some will say, we are overcomplicating our machines and this is not needed in small machinery. But this information is there in the background, why not use it and have this data work for you.

I would rather have a phone call to say:

‘‘Hello, I can fit a switch or change a coil on your machine next week. Or we forecast with your current usage rate that these components will need replacing.’’

Wouldn’t that be more pleasant? Then be broken down on-site making phone calls stopping concrete and paying standing time?

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