Sensors And Connectivity In Smart Industry

By Vishal Goyal, Senior Manager – Technical Marketing, Analog and MEMS group, RF, Sensors and Analog custom products, India, ASEAN and ANZ, STMicroelectronics

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Smart Industry is a term used for automated and connected manufacturing facility. In Smart Industry factories produce in a more efficient manner. Factories are more flexible and customization is possible in the supply chain. Production is more sustainable with less waste and energy used. Working environment is safer and there is better man-machine cooperation in the work place.

This article elaborate major advancements in sensors and lower power connectivity technologies which are key to the emergence of Smart connected Industry in recent times.

Evolution of Smart Industry

1st Industrial revolution took place in 18th century. It mark the beginning of all new machines of various types. There were mechanical equipment driven by water and steam power. The labor was responsible of entire cycle of mass production.

2nd Industrial revolution took place in 20th century. In the revolution electricity replaced water and steam as the main source of power to run the machines. It also marked the advent of division of labor to achieve mass production. So a labor was doing a part of activity rather than whole product from beginning to end.

3rd Industrial revolution took place in 1970’s when electronics and IT get introduced to automate the process. Large mechanical machines were replaced by electronic machines. This revolution was also an important landmark for semiconductor Industry as it became the main engine of automation.

4th Industrial revolution where machines are becoming more intelligent and intuitive is witnessed today. The new machines are more efficient, safe and flexible as they can monitor their performance, usage and failure autonomously. Big data, analytics and decentralized decision making techniques are used to develop robust supply chain and efficient production operation.

Machines in Smart Industries are more efficient and environment friendly in their production process. They are safer and offer better working experience to the workers. There is greater two way interaction between Human and machine. Machines are flexible in their operation, can respond to demand and can be used to product mass customized products.

Enablers of Smart Industry

Efficiency

Smart machines have higher efficiency at all the points of their operation. They convert power from supply to the consumption in a very efficient way and when required store power very efficiently. Today Motors are much more efficient. Lighting is wirelessly controlled and used only when required.

Intelligent and aware

Machines are equipped with sensors to measure parameters such as vibration, temperature, humidity etc. The sensor information is sent to local processing unit and turned into information. Machines interact with humans around them ad provide the sensor information to them to interact with them.

Connectivity

Machines are connected within the factory, within the company and to the cloud. They provide real-time information down to lowest level and form part of a very big supply chain. The sensor information is sent to the cloud securely and is used for many analysis including breakdown prediction.

Major areas of Smart Industry

Factory Automation

Factory automation is the use of various control system to manage the production process. It allows for machines to be used sequentially with minimum human intervention. Various decision of manufacturing process can be taking by monitoring data such as humidity and temperature of the raw material and finished products, detection of fault, automated test reports etc. Various machines can be connected in a mesh using 6LowPan subGhz RF for information sharing.

Industrial Robots

An Industrial robot is a machine with several degree of freedom of movement. They can be programmed to do several predefined manufacturing, testing and production tasks. They are useful in achieving high quality manufacturing, save labor cost and even be use in hazardous and unsuitable environment. Adoption of new generation robots, which are flexible and programmable, enable one to one product customization, according to customer’s needs and wishes. Robots are fitted with several sensors to monitor their exact position and angle. Smart robots are also wireless connected to send and receive inputs.

Industrial Lighting

Lighting comprises of major portion of non-manufacturing electricity consumption of an Industrial facility. A lot of power is wasted if the lights remain ON even when it is not used. A smart lighting system can monitor and control each and every lighting using 6LowPan subGhz mesh protocol. The lights will be used only when necessary and any fault is automatically detected. Even the intensity of lights can be controlled remotely. The street light pole can also act as weather and security station.

Smart Manufacturing

Smart manufacturing is a holistic combination of various areas of manufacturing and supply chain. It encompasses automation, control, advanced robotics, motor control, sensors, connected machines etc. A smart manufacturing facility can order its raw material itself and can log on maintenance request before actual failure. It improves working condition and manage hazardous manufacturing more safely. A smart manufacturing facility also uses BIG data and artificial intelligence.

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