IoT Platform for Industry 4.0 and Smart Production
Obtaining data from smart production lines and production environments is nothing revolutionary and has been an important factor of running an efficient factory for years. While production data is often available, machine condition and performance might not be visualised the same way. By gathering and visualising this data it allows you to understand why issues arise and later to predict them before they happen. By combining production data and machine monitoring you can increase production performance and reduce stoppages.
While Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) have been around for a long time, they are usually expensive to obtain and set up. And often they focus on production data and not machine condition value. The data needed is usually available through PLCs or can easily be measured with retrofitted sensors, but there is no good way of gathering and combining this data. Machine vendors also tend to have good data collection platforms, but with a manufacturing line with equipment from multiple different vendors, these usually won’t help.
How Beacon Tower fits:
Beacon Tower, being vendor-agnostic, allows you to gather all types of data from your factory – either directly from sensors, other cloud platforms and MES, or through your equipment’s SCADA, or directly from PLCs.
We make use of integration tools that easily allow us to gather data from a majority of protocols and interfaces. By making use of our Asset structure & hierarchy you can model your production environment in multiple layers to make sure the data structure mimics reality.
Key Beacon Tower functionalities that enable Industry 4.0 and Smart Production
Asset Structure & Hierarchy
With Assets you can create an accurate presentation of your production. Assets can represent one or multiple physical devices or machines or be put in hierarchies to model your complex production and geographical set-up. This allows you to model what is really important to your or your customer’s business.
Beacon Tower has built in support for IoT Edge devices. This means you can move sensitive and time critical operations to your devices while still keeping the benefits of a cloud-based data collection. You can either incorporate your own edge devices or make use of the Beacon Tower embedded edge software.
No vendor lock-in
Beacon Tower has no hardware requirements and connects to all device clouds, machines and sensors to gain maximum flexibility and prevent automation vendor lock-in.
Beacon Tower Digital Twin is a software representation of a physical asset and location designed to detect, prevent, predict, and optimise physical behaviour.
Rules & Alarms
Create rules that are applied directly on streaming real-time data. The rules can either be simple thresholds that triggers alarms when sensor values go outside them, or complex rules based on multiple different sensor values and algorithms.
The rules can either start actions or trigger alarms. The alarms can be of varying severity to notify different groups of users.
Beacon Tower security enables secure access for devices, APIs and customers. Beacon Tower builds upon Azure security, with multi-factor Authentication services that have zero-trust relationship and with secure connections to all devices.
Azure 24/7 security monitoring enhances Beacon Tower as it relies on Azure Cloud managed services.
How do we get started with Industry 4.0 and Smart Production?
Gathering data from a production line to control a production process is nothing new. But now there are new values to be found in the massive amount of data that is already produced. Regardless of what business case is deemed the most valuable one it often starts with a need to stream data to a global data lake. And you might need data from a variety of sources; historians, legacy SCADA systems, directly from PLCs or external sensors. Deciding what data is needed for your business case and how to gather it is the first obstacle. The next one is to ensure that data is modelled in a way it can be utilized. And lastly you need to decide what technology to use to obtain it.
How we help with realizing your ideas
We can help with providing best practice solutions on how to gather the data from your factories into a central repository. Depending on the types of data needed we can recommend hardware solutions that are the most cost efficient on being able to retrieve data from all necessary sources. We also help you to design the data flow from the factory into the final repository ensuring the data is modelled in a way that makes it useful by ensuring signal names are consistent and values are transformed if necessary.
Pilot & Initial Launch
When running the first Proof-of-Concept and Pilot you want to use these to reduce or remove high risk challenges. By identifying what those are you can make sure you don’t run the wrong course for too long. It is important to be able to test technology & use cases with little effort and low risk. A proper PoC and Pilot should make sure can be certain that your use case is valuable and scalable.
How Beacon Tower secures an effective Pilot
Together we can identify the key risk areas that need to be tested to ensure the final product will be successful. By using Beacon Tower, you can get a PoC and Pilot up and running in a couple of days. And we can quickly adapt and change the solution based on new findings in the PoC to continue testing.
When the pilot is deemed successful it’s time to scale up to more factories and maybe to cover more use cases. This means the processes need to be streamlined and most work automated. The data flow will increase exponentially and it’s critical your platform can keep up. Having the wrong platform at this stage can prove disastrous as all your value adding processes might stop working if data is no longer gathered as expected.
How Beacon Tower helps you scale
Beacon Tower’s architecture, features and infrastructure are designed to be able to scale from a few devices to several thousands. Not only from a capacity standpoint, but also by providing functionality that you might first need with a large-scale roll-out. This allows Beacon Tower to follow you through your whole IoT journey. We regularly load test all components and make use of Microsoft Azure’s features to ensure it can scale effortlessly. These tests will also be run specifically for you during the Proof-of-Concept to ensure there are no surprises later. We also monitor all services to early identify any irregularities and adjust them before they cause issues.