Advances in manufacturing technologies such as cloud computing, increased automation and data exchange are allowing organisations to gain greater visibility of their industrial processes.
With Industry 4.0 firmly making its mark within the manufacturing industry, the availability of smaller and more powerful sensors, in combination with high-speed network connectivity, has made it increasingly possible to gather, transmit and interpret data in real-time. This has led to the creation of smarter factories with improved productivity.
Known for its innovative, award-winning solutions, Mettler-Toledo Safeline continues to develop new technologies that support Industry 4.0. The company has recently introduced a new set of features to its Profile metal detectors, including the ability to mirror the metal detector's interface remotely, known as Emulation.
Using a Virtual Network Computing (VNC) client, Emulation allows operators to mirror the interface of one or multiple in-line metal detectors onto networked devices, including mobile phones, tablets and laptops and other industrial equipment. This approach is an extremely flexible method of data display, delivering productivity benefits through improved access to data remotely, as well as delivering safety benefits by reducing the need for line operators to access the metal detector directly, which are often installed in hazardous or inaccessible locations.
Innovative Emulation technology is also linked with Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection's data management software, Prodx, which automatically collects critical inspection process data in one convenient location, significantly reducing the need to interact directly with critical control points (CCPs). ProdX also facilitates faster set-up between production batches and is able to convey advance warnings generated by product inspection devices of adverse trends that may lead to downtime and threaten the efficiency of the production line. Together, the two technologies make processes more streamlined, more accessible and more efficient.
Head of Sales at Mettler-Toledo Safeline Mike Bradley explains how Emulation can be used in a factory setting: "In the first instance, a free of charge application is downloaded which links directly to a metal detector. This means designated personnel can remotely monitor the current status of the device by logging in from an office, or even another site if the supporting infrastructure is in place."
"Using Emulation, it is possible to view any setting changes that have been made to the metal detector, and to review access log statistics without having to be directly in front of the machine. It's even possible to control the metal detector from the remote device"
Bradley adds. Bradley continues: "There are many important benefits to such an approach. First and foremost, it improves safety in factory environments. Often, metal detectors are installed in inaccessible places. By enabling operators to view the Human Machine Interface (HMI) remotely, production workers can gain access to metal detector data in more convenient settings, often reducing the requirement to climb a ladder or work at height to access the control panel."
Remote operation of metal detectors means plant operatives can run performance monitoring routines or adjust settings for product changeovers in a more timely manner.
With ProdX, manufacturers can streamline, speed up or eliminate set-up times between production batches which can reduce downtime. Both features can be a valuable boost to plant efficiency.
Bradley concludes, "Ultimately, the improved data-sharing capabilities of metal detection equipment is helping to underpin the emergence of smarter, more connected factories, enabling the 'top-floor to shop-floor' monitoring of assets."
As we move towards the increasing adoption of Industry 4.0 principles and the ushering in of the fourth industrial revolution, similar digital developments will undoubtedly come to the fore.