Winfactory 4.0 may sound as the fourth revision of the renowned Piovan’s Winfactory supervisory software – instead it is a brand new application for plant wide supervision ready for Industry 4.0, the group of protocols and technologies being implemented that constitutes the core of the fourth industrial revolution: digital manufacturing.
Industry 4.0: control and optimisation of any production process
Industry 4.0 has been initiated as a strategic German government project for the technological evolution and optimisation of industrial processes. Aimed at implementing a detailed system that allows for maximum production efficiency, the best use of energy and the highest possible goods customisation even in a mass production context, Industry 4.0 encompasses the four basic principles of the Smart Factory:
– Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS): guaranteed interoperability via a global network created by businesses that include machinery, logistics, structures and operators that are interconnected and continuously dialogue through the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of People (IoP).
– Integration of data to the context: using information systems able to aggregate the raw data received directly from the machines during the production process in the full context, the more timely needs can be fulfilled.
– Digital Interconnection during the entire process: from the end user to the manufacturer and vice versa, the process engineering allows for the customisation of the product through the system that independently collects the information needed to perform the required task.
– Decentralisation of decisions: components and connection integrations allow the CPS to perform their tasks autonomously notwithstanding exceptions, interferences or continent needs.
Winfactory 4.0: the fourth industrial revolution according to Piovan
The integration between production, distribution and information structures of the manufacturing industry is the key Smart Factory concept. Piovan has implemented this with the evolution of its process control and management software based on the Industry 4.0 guidelines, developing WInfactory 4.0 well ahead of schedule (2020) to allow for connections between the various parts of the technological ecosystem.
Ready to communicate
Winfactory 4.0 uses OPC – UA (Open Platform Communication – Unified Architecture), the protocol selected by Industry 4.0 before issuing the Smart Factory specifications: developed by the OPC Foundation in 2015, it defines the communication rules and data exchange between the various entities that make up the system.
Through OPC-UA , Winfactory 4.0 supervises and ensures dialogue between Piovan machines and machines of other manufacturers (OEM). There is no longer the need for an interface that “translates” the data provided by each device into a common format: the information exchange becomes immediate and the various systems can interact independently. Such communication platform also allows access and use of the software on tablets and smartphones.
Advanced management of energy use
In parallel with the development of Winfactory 4.0, Piovan created a group of integrated functions that allow for the control of very accurate operative parameters to be 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 data volumes necessary to identify KPI and best practices can be collected quickly from various factories that are far from one another. This is the Big Data collection and analysis concept, made sector-specific to meet the needs of Piovan’s clients.
A bit of history
Winfactory is a proprietary supervision software launched by Piovan in 2008, even if the company produced remote management software for its equipment since 1996. Winfactory was the first application of this type dedicated exclusively to the plastic processing industry: it has all the internal functions that are used for companies that process plastics. The number of installations that Piovan has implemented has gone from 35 in 2008 to nearly 200 a year from 2012 onward.
With Winfactory 4.0, the typical Winfactory supervision functions are backed up by many others, which can be added to the basic installation to make up a customised application set. Available in 11 languages (with the option to add others) with a new customisable graphic interface, barcode reader, touchscreen support, email notification function in case of alarms and log reporting, Winfactory 4.0 is an extremely evolved instrument for the careful and efficient management of the entire production process.
Based on the type of industrial process, Winfactory 4.0 can be configured in several ways. Piovan developed different modules to manage each situation, from the production of PET preforms & bottles to that of flexible film, or for specific sectors like the medical one or the automotive industry, with completely configurable setups.
The Energy license is not specific for the plastic sector, it is for a broader use and is focused on monitoring the utilization of energy of any industrial machinery or equipment. Based on the type of industry and application, the Energy license can also be integrated in all Winfactory 4.0 configurations. The possibilities of Winfactory 4.0 are further extended by a series of optional and on-demand functions and services like, for example, materials tracing, OPC-UA server, remote assistance, production line utilization, material blend combinations, production resource optimization and material storage and reordering management. The system itself automatically manages the use of the production lines based on what and how much must be produced. For example, a specific production lot, involving the use of a given combination of raw materials, additives, masterbatch and regrind, would be much more convenient to be planned on a production line that already used the same type and mix of materials, since there would only be very few or no interventions necessary to clean the line. With the installation of the OPC-UA protocol, both the basic and additional Winfactory 4.0 features can be made available on the machines, systems and automation devices, made by Piovan and others, and can interface directly with the management system at the individual plant as well as the company network. In this way, information can be shared amongst the various systems and data can be collected to optimise the processes, creating the Smart Factory of the fourth industrial revolution.