Louis Meyer, Industry Sales Manager Process, FA European Business Group Mitsubishi Electric Europe, Ratingen
The automation of production is steadily increasing, especially the area of the process industry is leading here. For example, robotic technology is already an integral part of the downstream packaging industry. In order to meet the growing demands of modern process control, companies are looking for ways to further improve the flexibility, quality, efficiency and productivity of their production. Above all, the company-wide integration must be reconsidered.
This guarantees a smooth flow of information along with seamless transformation of information across all levels of operations - from production to systems of higher-level business processes. Different aspects such as a holistic energy or system life cycle management, compliance, IT security and globalization of production must be considered.
The prerequisites for mastering the challenges facing the process industry in the next few years are consistently automated organization planning, dynamic process management and fully optimized production processes for unit cost control.
Rethink integration between field level and IT systems
On the one hand, modern technologies are needed, such as advanced process control, real-time optimization and the ubiquitous use of so-called soft sensors. In addition, the integration between the field level and IT systems must be reconsidered: In the future process industry, the MES / ERP systems will be increasingly directly and intelligently linked to the production facilities.
A key trend is toward green, green manufacturing where energy consumption is actively captured, controlled and optimized in real-time, at every step of the production process and along the entire value chain. Plant operators should be able to actively influence energy consumption by perceiving energy costs in a monetary or business context rather than in abstract technical units. A merger of energy management with process control will be the rule in the future.
Compliance of quality and safety
Quality and safety are already mutually dependent today. However, until 2020, both topics will be united under company-wide "compliance", ie compliance with internal, legal and contractual rules and regulations, covering a broad spectrum down to emissions control. In practice, it will therefore be necessary to permanently measure, record, report, disseminate and act on all process data. All values must be traceable.
Cyber security is another trend that will have become institutionalized by 2020. In order to comply with security regulations, it is necessary to eliminate vulnerable platforms of commercial operating systems as well as secure data transmission between higher level business systems and field level controllers. The goal is to reduce the attack surface for cyber attacks within the organization.