Greater manufacturing efficiency: it’s the golden egg we’re all looking for. But it’s getting increasingly hard to find. The solution could be smarter automation, which involves lots and lots of data (‘big data’) and data collection and data-driven modelling. The smart machine then uses the models to automatically adjust its own behaviour (i.e. machine learning).
How can food & beverage manufacturers benefit from the latest machine control technology?
Implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in food manufacturing is picking up speed. Many F&B companies are realizing that AI presents an opportunity to increase not only the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) – and therefore combine reduced costs with increased productivity – but also to improve the analysis of data to support continuous improvement programs such as reducing waste or process operations variability.
Achieving better OEE with AI
According to a study by Aberdeen Group[i], although OEE values of 89% have been achieved by leaders of the F&B industry, many of the traditional systems currently in live usage by the followers have been generating figures of around 74%. But, what if you go beyond that and add in artificial intelligence solutions for automation? If quality is improved and predictive maintenance is used to prevent machine downtime, it is possible to make much more significant efficiency gains. In any case, regardless of the number, what really matters about getting OEE information along the whole process, is what you do with it and how you tackle the identified pain points.
There is still often a gap between the desired status and reality: cloud-based AI solutions place significant requirements in terms of infrastructure and IT, as they need to process large amounts of data. The added value of these solutions is not always clear for providers, who cannot determine a return on investment in AI. In addition, system designs in the production industry are complex and unique, which makes standard solutions difficult to implement.
AI at the machine level
How can we design and integrate AI solutions that create concrete and substantial added value in the production process? Instead of searching large amounts of data for patterns, in addition to the processes that are running, Omron takes on the challenge from another direction: AI algorithms that are integrated in the machine controller, creating the framework for real-time process optimization at the Edge — at the machine level.
Compared to cloud computing, where individual manufacturing lines or sites are analyzed using limited processing power at a high level, the AI controller recently launched by Omron, which features adaptive intelligence, is closer to the action and identifies and differentiates normal patterns from abnormal ones for the individual machine. The AI Controller collects, analyzes and utilizes data on Edge devices within a controller to prolong equipment longevity and detects unforeseen events to prevent failures. This powerful solution can help manufacturers reduce the risk of equipment damage and downtime by detecting issues early on and prompting immediate action to resolve them.
The AI controller helps identify what needs to be done to improve and to noticeably improve OEE — an improvement of just a few percentage points can result in significant efficiency gains and cost reductions.
AI Controller Solution from Omron
The AI controller integrated in Omron’s Sysmac platform — a complete solution for factory automation featuring modules for control, motion and robotics, image processing and machine safety — is primarily used in the food and beverage packaging and production process at the points where the customer is experiencing the greatest efficiency problems. The processes gain intelligence based on previous findings and improvements that have been made and then drive the overall optimization of the manufacturing process.
Omron works with its customers to accomplish its original manufacturing innovation concept, “innovative-Automation”. With the AI Controller and Sysmac Library, the company accelerates the realization of intelligence for automation. This enables a factory of the future, where humans and machines collaborate in harmony to reduce machine downtime, maximizes performance, and achieve zero-defect equipment. The solution for predictive maintenance and control is now available from Omron Industrial Automation Europe.
[i] Achieving Operational Excellence, Paquin, R, Prouty, K, Aberdeen Group, July 2015