Industry 4.0 is a facility-wide endeavour, but when it comes to implementing it on the production line, manufacturers often wonder where to begin. This is where line integration skills and the use of programming standards come in, writes Foodmach CCO Earle Roberts.
We’re often asked: ‘Can you make our existing factory Industry 4.0 compliant?’ The answer is – it depends.
You may have found that your existing equipment does not easily integrate, and that having each individual OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) supplier on your production line upgrade their control systems to suit Industry 4.0 is expensive. In addition to this expense, the result is often clunky and fails to deliver the full benefits of a ‘smart’ line.
To address this issue, Foodmach has developed specialisation in adding functionality to existing individual machines, regardless of their make, through the creation of a Line Management Execution System (LMES) which can deliver high-performance connectivity.
Using high-level control architecture (OMAC) and open-source packaging machinery language (PackML), we work through original equipment manufacturers’ proprietary platforms so that all equipment is networked through the IIoT and can provide useful, translatable information.
Foodmach started using the OMAC and PackML programming standards a decade ago. This long history now means we’re at the forefront of OMAC and PackML programming in Australia.
Our specialist team of programmers use OMAC and PackML to get all the machines on a packaging line talking to each other and providing consistent, useful data. This is an important step towards Industry 4.0 – open communication standards that simplify system designs.
In our experience, OMAC compliance for new equipment needs to be carefully investigated when looking to buy equipment. The standards to claim ‘OMAC compliance’ are very minimal for OEMs so the real test is what effort is required to integrate the equipment and communicate with it.
In contrast, Foodmach equipment is designed to easily integrate into ‘smart’ lines, giving customers both speed and control.
Our IIoT-expert customers see us as part of their development team. These customers have a clear strategy, capital budget and history in investing in IIoT capability. It’s a great arrangement where Foodmach benefits from working with some of the pioneers in the Industry 4.0 space and witnesses the great outcomes these customers enjoy. And it means that we have the experience behind us to know what works.
We’ve developed a large team of expert programmers breaking new ground in this field, which enables us to integrate entire production lines and bring our customers closer to Industry 4.0.
A prime example
In one example, DuluxGroup required end-to-end automation at its new Greenfield site in Melbourne – the latest in world-class paint-making technology.
Located in Merrifield Business Park in Melbourne’s north, the $165 million manufacturing facility is the largest coatings factory in Australia and New Zealand.
The new factory has five fully-automated filling and production lines: three high-velocity and a blend and tint plant with two smaller lines. It has a total capacity of 50m-70m litres (spring capacity) per year.
150+ raw materials that are handled without manual intervention and 150 recipes can change if needed. The filling lines can handle about 1200 SKUs.
Foodmach supplied all the depalletising, conveying systems, robotic orientation, AGV and laser coding/labelling systems, integrating its equipment with equipment purchased from international OEMs, and provided an over-arching line control system able to handle all the challenges of batch paint production, now and into the future.
The Merrifield project took many years of collaboration – they first contacted us in August 2011. Today DuluxGroup’s project director Kevin Worrell describes the plant as one of the top five Industry 4.0 batch plants in the world at the moment.
This article first appeared in Food & Drink Business November-December 2018 edition. It is republished here with permission.
Foodmach will be exhibiting at AUSPACK 2019 on stand E065 and Earle Roberts will be giving a presentation on the Dulux Case Study at the AUSPACK 2019 Business & industry conference. The title is ‘Real, applied Industry 4.0 – Dulux’s $165M cutting edge plant’.