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Connected Devices: An Insight into Industry 4.0

‘Industry 4.0’, ‘The Cloud’, ‘Internet of Things.’ All these terms have been increasing in popularity as ways of describing the latest technology and systems available to help manufacturers gain new insight and intelligence from their machines and production processes, store data safely and securely and use analytical information to predict and prevent lost time and money.

But how do these systems work on a day-to-day basis for plastics processors and can they be of benefit regardless of company size? According to  TSM’s John Ross MacMahon the blending and control specialists headquartered in Ireland, the answer is yes. “TSM Insight division’s latest product  is an important step forward into the world of data gathering and analytics,” he explained. “It is a new way of being able to connect devices, production lines and plants to each other via the internet. These systems are becoming more accessible to plastics processors of all sizes as the cost of network processing and communications is coming down.”

TSM’s Insight system allows the monitoring of data from locations all over the world, and it can be extended to as many devices and locations as needed.

“Through a common platform it is possible to analyse vast quantities of data to produce information, diagnostics and analytics to help with positive decision making,” John Ross continued.  “TSM Insight allows for the visual management of connected products, regardless of type, location and time. This provides increased measurable value to plastics producers across all critical plant and business metrics, such as energy usage, uptime and productivity management, which will contribute significantly to the bottom line.”

Real equipment, real benefits

To illustrate how the new system works, John Ross uses TSM’s latest blender, the Optix, as an example. The blender, targeted at the extrusion market, was released to the market late last year. Incorporating material loading, high accuracy dosing, no cross-contamination, weighing, mixing and control, John Ross says that the Optix takes blenders in this category to “an entirely new level.” In addition to these features, the Optix is also equipped with ‘Materials Usage Data Gathering’, so is compatible with the new Insight technology.

“As a gravimetric supplier, every grain of raw ingredient is weighed on its way into the process on our equipment. For example, we can gather that data to a central user friendly interface and analyse it in real time to produce dashboards that will enable a business to make the decisions it needs to. The information and analysis tool will allow a company to pinpoint where and when waste is happening in a process.”

John Ross added that the technology will be designed to not only integrate with other third party equipment, but that the material data gathering and insight system has been designed to be compatible with all blenders produced in the last seven years.

Linking up with AB Systems

In order to extend the use of its products and systems further into the UK market, TSM has recently formed a partnership with ancillaries supplier, AB Systems. The company says the partnership with AB will enable it to benefit from its large installation base, experienced engineers and experience in product conveying and blending.

“Having looked at the strong position AB is in to service the full UK market, TSM thought the timing was right to link up with AB and it has been a great fit,” commented TSM’s European Sales Manager Shane O’Callaghan “AB Systems has been delivering blending and conveying systems to the UK for the last three decades and have successfully installed plant-wide materials handling systems. Adding TSM products to their offering will mean plastics processors not only have a wider product choice, but will be perfectly positioned to take advantage of the cloud-based systems we offer, which, as highlighted, can ultimately improve processes, eliminate waste and help them become more competitive.”

This article was originally published in the January/February 2018 edition of British Plastics & Rubber.

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