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Plant overview and remote monitoring thanks to Industry 4.0

COVID-19 | Tommaso Motta, 14 May 2020

We live in an unprecedented time and manufacturers all around the world are seeing how Industry 4.0 can bring benefits to their operations while we weather the COVID-19 storm.

The tissue, paper and nonwovens industry is not exempt from this. In fact, it is facing some unique challenges: while many manufacturers and other businesses face closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nonwovens, paper and tissue plants are considered essential and thus they remain open.

Even more important is the role nonwovens industry plays in manufacturing face masks and other protective clothing that medical staff need. Keeping the plants of the nonwovens supply chain functioning it is a challenge for which the technologies made available by Industry 4.0 can make a difference.

Keeping workers safe and plants in operation

The need to keep plants in the tissue, paper and nonwovens industry running can take a toll, as we all need to maintain social distancing measures and this can be difficult to do in a fully staffed manufacturing facility.

In addition, if a company has plants in multiple countries around the world, it is currently not possible for plant owners and executives to travel to the various locations, inspect them and take care of issues that arise. Fortunately, there is a solution. It’s Industry 4.0, which operates through the cloud and makes it possible to keep plants full operational with minimal staff that will continue to work under safer conditions.

Industry 4.0 for machine monitoring and plant overview

The first way Industry 4.0 can help your plants remain operational is through remote machine monitoring and plant overview. With all the machines equipped with sensors and connected to the cloud, machine and plant data can be collected in real-time and analyzed 24/7.

This makes it possible for plant operators to remotely monitor machines conditions and know immediately when one of them malfunctions or stops operating. This can all be done from the comfort of your head office or home via a single, user-friendly dashboard that can easily report on conditions from multiple plants in multiple locations around the world.

In case of machine malfunction, you will know immediately through chatbot notifications sent via email or SMS directly from the machine itself. It will therefore be possible at that point to contact the person or team responsible for repair and maintenance, so they can go in and do the operations needed to get the machine up and running again.

In addition, augmented reality (AR) is available to help facilitate repairs. If, when a malfunction occurs, there is someone staffing the plant who is not familiar with the machine or if the technician is unfamiliar with the particular issue, they can use a tablet equipped with a webcam to frame the machine. At this point, the AR functionalities can overlay technical informations, such as tables and diagrams provided by the machine software, related to those specific machine parts. Thanks to this, the plant staff can become A.Celli technician’s eyes, so he can run machine diagnostics and assist with the required repairs.

Read more: Chatbots and Augmented Reality are the future (present) of industrial maintenance

Industry 4.0 for optimizing efficiency through production planning

Industry 4.0 also helps you optimize plant efficiency and plan your production to ensure you meet the required demand. For example, if you are running a plant that produces face masks, chances are that you need to ramp up production to meet the increased demand COVID-19 has placed on the medical supply system.

With Industry 4.0, you will be able to verify whether your machines are working at full capacity. If they aren’t, it will be possible to make adjustments to the operation of each machine to increase production while maintaining the quality of the product. Best of all, you can adjust the efficiency of the machines based on the size of the orders you receive, so you are always operating at pique efficiency while minimizing energy consumption.

Industry 4.0 is the new normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has already drastically changed how we live, work and play, and it will continue to change our lives for the foreseeable future. Just think back to the beginning of the year: it would have been almost unthinkable that just weeks later we would have a great need to run our plants remotely.

With the increase in demand and the dire need for nonwovens, it is more important than ever that these plants remain in operation in a way that maximizes production, while minimizing staff health risks. Industry 4.0 makes this possible and while it has been a viable option for a number of years, the present conditions are pushing it forward from a “nice to have” to a “must have.”

Contact A.Celli today to book a free consultation, so you can learn how Industry 4.0 can help your plants maximize their potential!