17 Apr 2024

Dual strategies for Industry 4.0

WEG

Mateus Nicoladelli de Oliveira, from the WEG digital solutions team and Jesus Angel Rivas Moro of WEG Iberia examine the approach of WEG’s Jaraguá do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil facility for Industry 4.0 deployment.

Asset and equipment management is being revolutionised by digital industrial solutions. However, for WEG — the global industrial equipment manufacturer — Industry 4.0 is not just a strategy for product development, but for internal processes too.

In the last decade or so, WEG has been working on the development of solutions for Industry 4.0, including WEG Motion Fleet Management (MFM), a tool for online monitoring and asset management, and WEG Motor Scan, a sensor for installation on said assets. However, in addition to these products, WEG has also developed and deployed Industry 4.0 tools for internal applications in its production lines.

Solutions include the installation of WEG Shop Floor Management (WSFM), digital technology for inside WEG production centres, and WEG Manufacturing System (WMS) a bespoke tool used by WEG to improve manufacturing methodologies and reduce losses. Both of these technologies work in tandem with MFM and WEG Motor Scan at WEG’s own production facilities – not just for their customers.

The pilot factory for Industry 4.0 at WEG is the wiring factory, at the headquarters in Jaraguá do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Here, we explore the benefits of this approach.

Industry 4.0 in action

Currently, the MFM applied at the wiring factory has 348 monitored assets, providing accurate information for maintenance based on the operational condition of the asset (condition-based maintenance), which is essential for predictive maintenance. The main assets monitored by the MFM are: motors, frequency inverters, soft-starters, gearboxes, gearmotors, compressors, pumps, fans, among others.

The MFM is based on cloud computing, operating on the WEGnology platform, which means it can be used anywhere in the world and from any of WEG’s global sites. The MFM allows engineers to check the operating status of low and medium voltage motors and generators, low and medium voltage variable frequency drives (VFDs) and soft starters, starting systems with smart relays, gearboxes, gearmotors, compressors and other assets installed in any type of industry or facility.

Through periodic data collection and advanced data processing, both on the edge and in the cloud, valuable insights are obtained. Thus, it is possible to establish predictive maintenance plans taking into account the operating condition of the fleet.

Operating in layers

The MFM adopts the concept of layers. The first layer comprises industrial assets that can be monitored with the MFM. The second layer is intended for asset digitalization and cloud connectivity through WEG Scans and Gateways.

The third one is a software layer and works as the management layer. In this space, data is presented through dashboards, reports, notifications and other means. Ultimately, this is the feature that makes MFM useful to the manufacturer.

Some of the features of this include: a dashboard for vibration analysis, module for maintenance management with computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) features, backup of drive parameters, notification and management application (WEG Digital Notify APP), optimised data processing on the edge and much more.

The fourth and final layer includes what is known as the specialist and exchange module. The specialist module has advanced features for each asset monitored by the MFM, enabling autonomous failure diagnostics and energy consumption analysis by means of advanced data analysis with artificial intelligence algorithms based on WEG expertise. The exchange module is used for integration with third-party systems.

Staying secure

As an Industry 4.0 tool, security is imperative in this application. MFM complies with high cyber security standards, ensuring that information is safe, as it makes use of vanguard security standards, mechanisms and tools. These include the encryption of transported and stored data, security tokens for each device and controlled and segmented access, in addition to having load balancing and redundancy features, enabling the application to meet its operation and information availability and security goals.

Authentications with access tokens generated by the application itself are used for connecting gateways, edge devices or mobile apps to the MFM, which guarantee that the devices having such tokens can consume and publish data in the MFM solution. This security strategy is implemented at the Jaraguá do Sul factory to keep this connected operation secure.

Results of Industry 4.0

Besides the immediate and direct results of implementing an asset digital monitoring system, further modifications of the maintenance agenda and procedures allow for an  overall reduction of maintenance cost, production downtime and increase machine availability.

In one particular case at the wiring factory, an annual preventive maintenance was scheduled. To remove ten motors from the structure, promote maintenance and re-install the motors demanded a week of maintenance agenda. With the increased confidence provided by the MFM solution, allowing early failure detection, the annual preventive maintenance was modified. Currently, machine and motors run on a continuous basis and maintenance on a particular motor is scheduled only when the MFM system identifies a trend or future motor problems.

The Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a good metric to evaluate the facility production by breaking it down into three factors: availability, performance and quality. While an online asset monitoring system does not affect the quality loss, which is more related to a correct process control, it directly affects performance loss and even availability loss.

Back in 2018, the facility’s performance and quality fell into the 98% range, a world class status. By implementing the asset health monitoring and management system, availability also improved by around 10% in three years.

In 2020, the 4.0 maintenance and online monitoring approach avoided 49 unscheduled incidences of downtime — a maintenance cost saving of 6 per cent. The number of man-hours on work orders for electrical and mechanical corrective action, in addition to preventive and predictive actions, was also reduced by around 10%.

Moreover, the reduction in maintenance expenses per scheduled machine hour in the company’s enterprise resource platform (ERP) is 23%. With the Industry 4.0 initiatives at the wiring factory, an increase of 5 per cent in total OEE was observed.

For WEG, this dual strategy has generated significant operational efficiency gains to the Jaraguá do Sul facility, and many more around the world. The internal use of such technology also allows WEG to improve the features of its own digital tools in order for customers to reap the benefits in the future.