Organisations have put their focus on reducing electronic waste (e-waste) as few take it up as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity. On the contrary, manufacturing set-ups and factories are consistently looking at upgrading their existing systems. If looked at from a factory perspective – both activities are extremely important where one will help the factories become environment-friendly by reducing e-waste and others will help them be automated and smart.
The Environment as the focal point
Owing to the rapid change in technology, the amount of e-waste has increased. For instance, the lifecycle cost of smartphones has decreased contributing to the amount of e-waste generated. In addition, new technologies are regularly introduced in the market, thus fuelling the introduction of new products and electronics. Industries have taken note and have brought the environment as a core part of their corporate social responsibility. The world is moving towards an Industry 4.0 era of digitization, industrial IoT and the amount of focus given to technology and on incorporating new products for smarter operations has increased. Ensuring higher machine availability reduces downtime leading to higher productivity. Incorporating predictive maintenance ensures a reduction in unplanned downtimes leading to reduce the wastage of raw materials and products. Monitoring energy in different forms helps factories save energy and thus reduces operating costs. For machine builders incorporating virtualization means reducing the time to market for new machines and avoiding rework. This saves them time and effort which eventually helps them avoid waste. Gathering data from machines and lines enables factories to analyse the performance in real-time enabling them to avoid human errors in data entry with taking decision spontaneously. These are just a few examples of the various benefits technology brings to machines and factories.
Smart yet clean systems
A common roadblock is the ability to make machines and operations smart yet clean for the sake of the environment. Factories need to find a way not only to benefit from smart manufacturing concepts but also to care for the environment. B&R Industrial Automation takes both aspects seriously by providing next-generation smart automation solutions to machines and factories while helping them in their endeavour of reducing e-waste. The company offers machine builders advanced automation technology and solutions for incorporating them in the new machines for becoming ready for the future and becoming innovative. In addition, it provides brownfield factories with solutions via edge-architectures that allow them to keep using the legacy systems while being able to incorporate the new technologies. Thus, any factory using the edge architectures from B&R is able to leverage the benefits the new technologies bring in such as energy monitoring, predictive maintenance, condition monitoring, virtualization, enabling IT / OT convergence, remote access, providing a seamless horizontal and vertical connectivity among other benefits. With the addition of edge architectures, factories reduce e-waste as well as become smart.
Unveiling Edge Architectures
Factories are looking at ways to gather data from machines as well as lines and send it to IT systems for analytics. With intelligence becoming more and more decentralised and a growing volume, variety of machine and line data becoming available for analytics, the need for edge computing is on the rise. Edge architectures help collect data from sensors, actuators, machines, lines and plants and move it to IT systems for analytics and long-term storage. It connects and allows the system to gather data directly from sensors and actuators in the field, which can then be shared securely with any cloud platform using the open-source OPC UA protocol – making it the easiest way to collect data from the field. The Edge Controller provides factories with comprehensive on-site analytics, business intelligence and machine learning – giving them full control of their data. Edge Embedded and Edge Controller can also be equipped with energy and condition monitoring tools.
A step towards digital manufacturing and reducing carbon footprint with B&R
Industry understands the value and the potential of digital transformation, which has opened the door for significant step-change improvements. The companies who seize this initiative can give themselves a sustainable competitive advantage; operate with greater agility, cost-efficiency, and control; and ultimately provide better care for patients. Edge architectures will continue to play a vital role in helping factories reduce their carbon footprint in their endeavour to become smart. B&R is a global automation provider with ground-breaking motion control, machine operation and control solutions for manufacturing. B&R is an ideal automation partner for helping machine builders, factories and manufacturing units on their path of digitisation.