As Industry 4.0 becomes less of a catch-phrase and more a real industrial revolution enabling truly “smart” factories, technology suppliers from across the plastics industry are using the improvements in connectivity it makes possible to provide processors with new and better ways of monitoring and controlling their energy consumption (and, of course, many of these innovations will be on show at K2016 next month).
As already noted, injection moulding machines are not the only energy users in a production plant: auxiliaries are also important consumers. Suppliers of such equipment are well-placed to offer energy monitoring and control systems. Piovan, for example, says that with the evolution of its process control and management software (based on Industry 4.0 guidelines) it has created communication networks with an exchange capacity to allow for connections between the various parts of what it describes as the “technological ecosystem.” The company’s Winfactory 4.0 uses the latest OPC-UA (Unified Architecture) protocol. “Thanks to the use of this protocol, Winfactory 4.0 makes it possible to supervise and ensure dialogue between Piovan machines and machines of other manufacturers,” the company says. A similar communication platform allows access and use of the software on tablets and smartphones. Piovan says that, in parallel with the development of Winfactory 4.0, it created a group of integrated functions that allow for accurate control of operative parameters used to manage factory energy sources. “Knowing how and why they are used for each individual process based on the production volumes, the efficiency level of their use is determined,” the company says.
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