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Industry 4.0 Gets A Wake-Up Call: The Need For Digital Transformation In Mining

Industry 4.0 Gets A Wake-Up Call: The Need For Digital Transformation In Mining

The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on our lives that transcend health-related matters. It has forced entire industries to rethink operational processes and core business fundamentals, and one of the most remarkable outcomes is the acceleration of digital transformation strategies.

In mining, where adoption of Industry 4.0 traditionally has lagged behind other industries, restrictions imposed by the pandemic served as a wake-up call to automate and get connected. With much of the workforce having to work from home, mining companies were forced to evaluate their processes and technologies to embrace industrial transformation to drive agility and operational efficiencies.

Obviously, no amount of connectivity can entirely remove humans from mining operations, but companies discovered that many tasks that can be performed remotely. This realization isn’t exclusive to mining; 63 per cent of C-suite and technology leaders said in a recent survey that COVID-19 accelerated their digital transformation efforts. And 49 per cent said digital transformation became a priority only after the pandemic started.

In mining, the acceleration of digitization has manifested itself in various ways, primarily industrial automation and the implementation of remotely managed data-driven systems designed to improve day-to-day operations and lay the groundwork for predictive maintenance. Remote connectivity has various applications in mining, from tracking assets and workers to equipment monitoring to troubleshooting. With troubleshooting, technicians on site can connect remotely to engineers who walk them through the steps to fix or restart a piece of equipment.

Modernizing mining operations for Industry 4.0

Digital transformation in mining is no easy task. It requires a lot of planning and vision. Legacy technology and electrical equipment must be replaced, and communications protocols need to be updated. It isn’t uncommon to find Windows XP and Windows 7 still in use. Companies now are replacing those systems with Windows 10 and virtual machines that connect to cloud infrastructures and edge computing networks.

The networks themselves also must be updated. Mining operations are replacing coaxial cables with Ethernet connections and converting from older communications protocols such as Modbus RTU to Ethernet Modbus/TCP. The newer protocol supports the convergence of IT and Operational Technology (OT), and enables remote management and easier access to data. As such, network updates are key to the implementation of data capture and analytics systems that enable real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance.

To support IT/OT convergence and connected operations, the mining industry is deploying Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and edge computing networks. IIoT networks transmit data captured from on-site sensors and edge networks, which make it possible to process and analyze the data in real time by keeping it as close to sources and users as possible.

Digital transformation challenges for Industry 4.0

All the changes taking place in mining raise several challenges. Perhaps the biggest one involves securing IP-connected systems against cyber threats. As mining operations deploy new systems and become connected, they must ensure that everything is protected through cybersecurity best practices and technologies. Cyberattacks are an ever-present danger as evidenced by recent ransomware attacks against the Colonial Pipeline, and meatpacker JBS. To help protect against cyber dangers, in 2017 six mining companies formed a non-profit group to share threat information and security best practices.

Other challenges involve operational safety and the need for expertise to plan and execute digital transformation. Most companies don’t possess all the requisite technical expertise and experience for digital transformation on their own.

Graybar Canada helps mining customers gain agility and resilience with digitization projects with a full complement of value-added services, from conception and planning to execution and to post-implementation management. Graybar works with clients to implement systems that provide visibility into their environments as well as remote access and data collection to drive business decisions, both in real time and for long-term strategic decisions.

Access digital transformation resources

Graybar Canada automation specialists work with clients to develop proofs of concept, map solutions to outcomes, and provide the guidance and training to extract maximum value from digitization investments. The partnership between Graybar and Schneider Electric is essential to achieving this mission. Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure™ for Industry platform delivers visibility and remote monitoring and management to improve efficiency and safety for workers and processes.

Working with Schneider Electric enables Graybar to provide systems and services to optimize asset performance and enable remote work, providing remote access for troubleshooting (Secure Connect), anytime/anywhere access for diagnosis (Augmented Operator), and a cloud-based services platform that remotely tracks equipment (Machine Advisor).

Graybar works with Schneider’s technical support experts and Schneider Alliance Partners to help with commissioning and post-implementation services. Its end-to-end service approach is designed to help customers, not only in mining but also other industries, to fully embrace digital transformation so they can better compete in the 21st century.

Graybar Canada was recently nominated as a Master Alliance Industrial Automation Distributor – the only company in North America to be nominated for this prestigious title. Through the Schneider Electric Alliance Partner Program for Industrial Automation Distributors, companies are empowered to develop new capabilities to better support the digital transformation of customers and strengthen business resiliency.

Learn more about how Graybar Canada and Schneider Electric solutions can support Industry 4.0 efforts by visiting www.se.com/ca/en/partners/distributors/industrial-automation/.
SOURCE Schneider Electric Canada Inc.

 

Huawei Connect 2021: Diving Into Digital

Huawei Connect 2021: Diving Into Digital

Huawei unveiled breakthrough innovations in several different domains, providing a first look at its comprehensive digital infrastructure range. Several of these innovations are completely new and have never been seen before outside of Huawei’s labs. The release highlighted how these products and solutions are set to shape digital infrastructure for the next decade.


Huawei’s annual flagship event for the global ICT industry – HUAWEI CONNECT 2021 – officially kicked off on September 23, 2021 at Shenzhen, China. This year’s event, themed “Dive into Digital”, explores how digital technology can better integrate with business scenarios and industry know-how to address critical business challenges, and how stakeholders can work together more effectively to foster an open industry ecosystem and drive shared success.

The event schedules four keynotes, five summits, and 66 sessions, featuring more than 200 speakers, including industry visionaries, business leaders, top tech experts, and ecosystem partners. It is live-streamed in 11 languages on Huawei’s corporate website and by its media partners. The event also featured online exhibitions, remote visits to exhibition halls, and open panel discussions, enabling online interaction and one-stop experiences.

Huawei Rotating Chairman Eric Xu graced the event with a keynote speech titled “Innovating Nonstop for Faster Digitalization”.In his keynote, Xu spoke about how helping industries go digital is a critical aspect of Huawei’s mission to bring digital to every person, home, and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world.

Xu said, “Digital development relies on digital technology. For digital technology to stay relevant, we must continue to innovate and create value. Cloud, AI, and networks are three critical digital technologies.” Xu then shared some of the progress Huawei has made in these three areas, what Huawei is doing to enable low-carbon development, and where the industry as a whole is heading.

At the event, Xu launched the industry’s first distributed, cloud-native service called UCS – a ubiquitous cloud-native service available on HUAWEI CLOUD. With UCS, Huawei plans to provide enterprises with a consistent experience while using cloud-native applications that are not constrained by geographical, cross-cloud, or traffic limitations, thereby accelerating digital transformation in all industries.

Xu also introduced Huawei’s innovations in the network domain. As organizations go digital, they tend to see exponential growth in network complexity. To tackle this, Huawei has been innovating solutions for global networks based on the concept of autonomous driving network (ADN). The company has been working with customers in the finance, education, and healthcare sectors to innovate and deploy new applications, and build networks that are self-fulfilling, self-healing, self-optimizing, and autonomous.

Xu went on to explain how Huawei is using digital technology to support low-carbon development, as part of global efforts to achieve peak CO2 emissions and carbon neutrality.

Specifically, Huawei focuses on three key initiatives:

  1. Investing and innovating in energy-saving technologies to deliver more energy-efficient ICT products for a low-carbon ICT industry;
  2. Investing in innovations where power electronics and digital technologies converge to promote clean energy and the digitalization of traditional energy; and
  3. Providing digital technology to help all sectors go digital and low-carbon.

Zhang Ping’an, CEO of Cloud BU and President of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, elaborated on HUAWEI CLOUD’s strategic initiatives and launched new services and products at the event. “HUAWEI CLOUD joins our customers and partners to dive into digital and explore the potential of Everything as a Service – Infrastructure as a Service for global accessibility, Technology as a Service for flexible innovation, and Expertise as a Service for shared excellence,” says Zhang.

Zhang also announced two new Regions in Mexico and China’s Ulanqab, and launched 10 new HUAWEI CLOUD services. The announcement included MacroVerse – HUAWEI CLOUD aPaaS, OptVerse AI Solver, HUAWEI CLOUD Stack 8.1, SparkRTC – a real-time audio and video service, and Pangu, a large model for drug molecules.

Customers and partners in attendance included Christophe Ozer, Head of Orange Cloud (Orange Flexible Engine) APAC; Wu Qiang, Vice President of Tianjin Port Holdings; Chen Haining, General Manager of IT Dept from Shanghai Pudong Development Bank; and Jiang Chuanrong, Chairman of Shanghai Mirror Pictures.

Xu concluded his speech with, “Nonstop innovation has been the driving force behind digitalization thus far. Moving forward, if we hope to reach more ambitious goals for digitalization, nonstop innovation will continue to be key. So let’s innovate nonstop for a better future.”

Huawei hosts HUAWEI CONNECT 2021 online from September 23 to October 31. 

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168 Motion Plastics Innovations From The Home Office

168 Motion Plastics Innovations From The Home Office

In a difficult environment, more innovations than last year – from the integrated robot drive up to the ball bearing with 21 times the service life

igus increases the pace of innovation despite the pandemic: high investments in digitalisation, logistics and remote consulting increased online sales by 30 per cent in 2020 and mitigated the decline in sales by 4.8 per cent. The motion plastics specialist is also breaking new ground in terms of sustainability and product innovation, and will be presenting more innovations than ever before with 168 tribo-polymer products in spring 2021.

Last year, the turnover of the motion plastics specialist igus fell by 4.8 per cent to 727 million euros in the wake of the Corona crisis. The company is optimistic for the current year, thanks to a significant increase in incoming orders. In addition, the pandemic period has led to a surge in innovation when working from home. The result is 168 new products, product extensions and digital offers this spring, more than ever before. igus will be giving a first preview at the Hannover Messe Digital Edition. The company will also be presenting all its spring news at its own physical-virtual trade show. It has just been awarded the “iF Design Award” and will be completely renewed for visitors from 5th May.

ReBeL accelerates cost-effective automation

After two years of development, the ReBeL, a new robot drive element, can be seen at the igus exhibition. Customers can construct their own robot arms quickly and cost-effectively from the modular kit. The core of the ReBeL is a greatly improved plastic gearbox. An integrated BLDC electric motor with power electronics can be connected to various controls. In addition, a suitable low-cost control system from igus is available free of charge as a download, so that the automation can be simulated in advance. In the field of “large” industrial robotics, igus is launching the TRX energy supply system, a solution that rethinks the subject of robot hose packs. The energy supply system twists, lengthens and shortens in a spiral, and cables are inserted in the form of a spiral. This enables a weight saving of 83 per cent on the 3rd axis, in less than half the space.

Dry-operating ball bearings with 21 times the service life

igus will also be presenting news in all areas of lubrication-free and maintenance-free bearing technology. In the case of ball bearings, the engineers at igus achieved a breakthrough in service life. In the application cases of low loads and high speeds, this was increased by a factor of 21. “What used to last a month now lasts almost two years”, explains Lena Woelke, the Development Manager for xiros ball bearings. Applications are found especially in fans or centrifuges

Plastic becomes a sustainable resource

How these lubrication-free plastic products not only have less impact on the environment during use, but are also produced in a CO2 neutral manner and recycled afterwards is part of the igus mission. The new factory building currently under construction will be climate neutral from the outset, and this will apply to the entire igus factory by 2025. To further reduce emissions, igus invests in modern technologies, for example, in extraction systems and filters; injection moulding machines that save up to 40 per cent energy and are barely audible have been purchased in large numbers. In addition to mechanical recycling in the chainge product range, igus also relies on new types of chemical recycling. Thus, igus increased its investment in Mura Technology to 5 million euros. Mura’s HydroPRS technology converts plastic waste back into oil. Investments increased by 29 per cent overall in 2020.

Investments in digitalisation and capacities bring customers forward

A significant part of the investments went into online shops and online tools. All webshops were renewed and made more informative for customers. New online tools for the configuration and calculation of gears, rollers, linear modules and stepper motors are accessible on the Internet free of charge and without registration. At the same time, igus expanded its stock at every location in the world. In addition to the USA with 23,000 individual parts and Europe with 88,000, 21,000 parts are now available in China in 24 to 48 hours and are assembled by igus in millions of models. The offer of easy online configuration and ordering together with the short delivery time was welcomed by many customers. Online sales increased by 30 per cent worldwide. The early expansion of machine and raw material warehouse capacities from the 3rd quarter of 2020 still ensures fast delivery times in the phase of a rapid economic recovery now.

Change as a duty and an opportunity

“Politics, technology, mobility, entertainment, climate and health – the world is changing rapidly at the moment”, says igus CEO Frank Blase. “We want to be active shapers. So I am proud of the igus colleagues for how they have applied themselves, changed and improved during these times.” The teams have been working predominantly from home since 13th March 2020. The offer for a self-determined quota of home office days with few rules and precise measurability is provided by igus until the end of 2022. At the same time, the company is experimenting with new work spaces and forms of on-site collaboration. “For our industry, the fact that everything is changing, absolutely everything, means everyone is making new products, and everyone needs new machines. This can trigger an enormous boom for our customers and us in the next few years.”

 

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Hexagon Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centre Opens In Singapore

Hexagon Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centre Opens In Singapore

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has opened the doors of its new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Singapore  – fitted with a wide array of advanced hardware and software technologies aimed at enabling an autonomous future.

Hexagon’s flagship facility in Southeast Asia will showcase an unparalleled portfolio of smart digital manufacturing technologies and autonomous connected ecosystems. This includes Hexagon’s latest advanced Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) solutions for design engineering; Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software for production applications; precision metrology, superior sensors, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, data management and analytics solutions.

The centre, currently resourced with more than two dozen people, is committed to strengthening and accelerating the development of smart manufacturing and autonomous solutions by improving design quality and production efficiencies.

Lim Boon Choon, President for Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, Korea, ASEAN, Pacific, and India said that, “This centre marks our on-going drive to bring Hexagon’s smart solutions into this region for the benefit of businesses here. It offers an environment for innovators, design engineers and manufacturers to test proof their inventions for quality, safety and productivity with access to our latest offerings which are a part of Hexagon’s Smart Solution portfolio.

“We are the only provider in the world with the end-to-end connected capabilities – from design, production, quality assurance, data analysis, digital twin, shop floor connectivity, to Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.

“Hexagon’s Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centre allows us to move closer towards creating an autonomous future where business, industry and humanity sustainably thrive,” enthused Lim.

He hinted at exciting updates on the horizon. “More of Hexagon’s revolutionary smart technologies including the latest advanced non-contact sensors fitted on-machine, on coordinate measuring machines (CMM) as well as on Laser Trackers, to elevate quality and precision to the highest level possible will soon be featured at the centre. This is a pioneering achievement, one that the industry has not seen to-date.”

Meanwhile, Paolo Guglielmini, President of Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division said, “As a global leader of advanced technologies and smart manufacturing, Singapore is a strategic location for Hexagon’s innovation centre in the ASEAN region.”

Industry research points to a shifting tide towards autonomous smart manufacturing in the next five years in Southeast Asia, especially with many industries and governments pushing for digitalisation.

The region has also seen the rapid rise of new innovations and start-ups and unfolding of 5G technologies which are expected to spur the growth of many industries from electronics to semiconductors, medical technology, eMobility, clean energy and more.

Lim highlighted that the aerospace, automotive, electronics, medical technology as well as energy industries would stand to especially benefit from this facility.

The new Innovation Centre offers design and production engineers the very best environment to learn, experiment, interact, and facilitate deeper learning and knowledge transfer in areas such as reverse engineering, additive manufacturing, shop-floor automated inspection and digitalisation of operations.

Solutions at the Hexagon’s Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centre include:

  • Advanced CAE solutions for design engineering, for simulation such as Cradle and [virtual manufacturing / manufacturing process simulation] tools such as the Simufact portfolio
  • CAM software for production solutions like NCSIMUL and VISI Reverse
  • Asset management and connected shopfloor digital solutions like SFx Asset Management,
  • Quality analysis solutions such as Q-DAS, VGSTUDIO Max and Laser Trackers
  • Statistical Process Control to collect data for analytics.

 

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Toyota Industries Corporation And Siemens Partner On Digital Transformation For Die Casting

Toyota Industries Corporation And Siemens Partner On Digital Transformation For Die Casting

To support their goal of manufacturing quality parts, Toyota Industries Corporation and Siemens have cooperated to develop artificial intelligence (AI) that can predict product abnormalities in aluminium die casting, a key process in automotive air conditioning compressor production.

The development is one of the world’s first to use defect prediction AI for die casting. It improves quality and productivity by utilising the AI application in Industrial Edge, the Siemens edge computing platform for industry. The initiative is an innovative example of digital transformation in manufacturing, and Toyota Industries Corporation aims to use it to further evolve their technology and incorporate it into their production plants in Japan and overseas. Siemens hopes that more businesses in the manufacturing industry will adopt their digitalisation and automation solutions such as Industrial Edge.

Aluminium die casting is a high-speed moulding process in which molten aluminium is shot into a die at high pressure. It is ideal for the accurate manufacture of metal cast parts that demand high dimensional precision, and therefore is often used for automotive parts that require high quality and reliability.  The die casting process is challenging to manage due to a range of constantly changing production conditions such as variations in the molten aluminium temperature or the injection rate. Success relies on the judgement of experienced workers, and sometimes the parts require secondary processing to handle abnormalities and maintain high quality standards.

During development, the two companies used a Siemens Simatic S7-1500 controller to gather big data totaling approximately 40,000 data points per die casting shot at the model line and then analysed the data using AI technology. They succeeded in preventing defects and improving quality by monitoring the production status in real time and automatically predicting equipment abnormalities that lead to quality issues. The production data is processed by the defect prediction AI on Industrial Edge, enabling instant analysis of the data on production conditions at the time of a shot and assessment of the part quality immediately after the casting. This series of AI technologies boosts productivity, improves quality, and transforms how operators work

“Digital transformation is a game changer. I am delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Toyota Industries Corporation in this revolutionary endeavor and to work together to forge the future,” says Rainer Brehm, CEO of Factory Automation, Siemens AG. “We will continue to develop and provide solutions for industries incorporating the latest technologies and to contribute to optimised and sustainable manufacturing.”

 

 

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Thailand BOI Accelerates Investment For Digital Adoption

Thailand BOI Accelerates Investment For Digital Adoption

The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) has approved a series of measures to accelerate investments, particularly in target industries and to encourage business to adopt digital technologies.

“The package to promote large scale projects was designed to boost investment in the post-Covid-19 period,” Ms Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of the BOI, said after a board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha.

“As for the digital technology adoption measure, they complement the sets of productivity improvement measures we have been implementing continuously to promote increased efficiency and productivity, and ensure companies are ready to seize the business opportunities arising from the upcoming economic recovery.”

Under the measures to accelerate investment in target industries, projects with realised investments of at least 1 billion baht (USD33 million) within 12 months from the promotion certificate issuance, will be eligible for an additional 50 percent corporate income tax (CIT) deduction for a period of 5 years, on top of the standard five to eight years CIT exemption, Ms Duangjai said. Qualified projects must submit applications from January 4, 2021 to the last working day of 2021.

Existing businesses of all sizes applying for investment under the digital technology adoption program in systems and activities such as software integration, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or big data analytics by the end of 2022, will, if approved, be granted a 50 percent corporate income tax exemption for three years on their existing businesses.

“We expect to see faster adoption of digital technologies including cloud computing through this incentive scheme,” Ms Duangjai said. To further promote investments in Thailand’s ten Special Economic Zones (SEZ), all located in border areas, the BOI approved the extension of the application period, to the end of 2022, for the special incentive scheme for SEZs that has been implemented over the past several years.

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EU Automation Celebrates Growth In 2020 Despite Turbulent Global Economy

EU Automation Celebrates Growth In 2020 Despite Turbulent Global Economy

It’s been a record year for automation parts supplier EU Automation, who managed to create new jobs and boost sales despite challenging times.

The company’s team has in fact grown by 14 per cent in 2020 and its global operations have expanded by 45 per cent in the last three years, making it one of Europe’s fastest growing automation parts suppliers. EU Automation has now sold more than a million automation parts worldwide, helping thousands of manufacturers keep their operations up and running.

EU Automation, which has headquarters in Frankfurt and warehouses in the UK, the US and Singapore, is currently servicing 156 countries worldwide in 22 different languages. This, together with the company’s rapid sales and team growth, has recently won it a place on The Sunday Times’s Fast Track 100 list, which celebrates Britain’s fastest growing private companies.

The automation supplier, which supports a wide variety of industries and vertical sectors, provides automation and control parts from all major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including ABB, Fanuc, Honeywell, Siemens and many more. It has facilities in four strategic locations — the UK, the US, Germany and Singapore — and boasts a global network of partner suppliers located on all major continents.

This allows the company to ship automation parts globally in record times, helping manufacturers minimise costly downtime when equipment breaks. The reliability of the company has won it several world-renowned customers, among whom are Rolls Royce and Coca-Cola.

EU Automation provides new, reconditioned and obsolete parts and the team specialises in the correct management of legacy equipment. Their corporate philosophy is that obsolete doesn’t means useless or inefficient, and that manufacturers can successfully compete in Industry 4.0 by retrofitting their legacy equipment with obsolete but high-quality components.

This approach benefits manufacturers because it avoids or minimises the costs and complexity of overhauling an entire production line, and reduces the production of e-waste and industrial waste. This philosophy is reiterated in EU Automation’s numerous online learning initiatives, from a dedicated corporate magazine to an automation and manufacturing podcast, gathered into the company’s online Knowledge Hub.

EU Automation focuses on outstanding customer support, with a large team of international sales managers who support customers in their native languages. This allowed the company to achieve the perfect mix of digitalisation and human touch — customers can simply browse the supplier’s extensive database to find the parts they need, but will be assisted by a dedicated account manager in all subsequent phases of the purchasing process.

“We are very proud of how fast the company has grown. In particular, we’re happy to see our global team expand, despite the challenges that we’ve all had to face in 2020,” said Jonathan Wilkins, director of EU Automation. “This is the result of the hard work of our whole team and of the trust and loyalty of our customers.”

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