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Make your factory smart. Check how industry software can help you quickly improve production management

Many companies are now facing the challenge of integrating production layers in their plants. Sii Poland, as one of the few companies in Europe, comprehensively responds to these needs. It implements Smart Factory solutions and ensures the compatibility of all systems to customers – from production lines, through process and production management systems, to ERP systems and cloud solutions. – Thanks to its scalability, our offer allows entrepreneurs to gain benefits regardless of their scale of operation, profile or sector – explains Przemysław Grzanka, Director of the Engineering Competency Center at Sii Poland. 

Modern industry and smart factories

Industry 4.0 is a holistic term related to the so-called industrial revolution and a concept concerning changes brought about by digital transformation. In practice, it is nothing more than the integration of systems, both vertical and horizontal, and the creation of network connections at many different levels of the production plant. It allows decentralized decision-making, optimal control and management of production processes and communication between systems as well as between systems and humans, whose role in modern industry is constantly evolving.

Sii Poland, the largest engineering, technology consulting, digital transformation and BPO services vendor in Poland, currently employing 5 000 specialists, is constantly looking for innovations. To give the clients from the industrial sector a technological advantage,, the company has created an offer in line with the principles of Industry 4.0, based on the Smart Factory concept, together with its implementation methodology – Road to Smart Factory.

– Thanks to its scalability, our offer allows entrepreneurs to gain benefits regardless of their scale of operation, profile or sector – explains Przemysław Grzanka, Director of the Engineering Competency Center at Sii Poland. – As its part, we offer the creation of an intelligent factory across production lines and machines, automation and digitization of production processes and both Internet of Things and Industrial Internet of Things solutions. We implement systems for process management (SCADA), production management and planning (MOM/MES/APS) and integration with ERP systems, as well as use data processing and exchange techniques, including cloud solutions, which allows our clients to get a full picture of production and all its parameters: qualitative, quantitative, cost and many others – he adds.

The offer also includes, among others, the creation of a digital copy (Digital Twin) of the factory, allowing both analysis and optimization of production processes without the need for investment and modernization of the physical line. Most importantly, key decisions on production processes and future investment directions can be made based on the digital copy, with comprehensive data about return on such investment (ROI). The final element of the Smart Factory concept at the highest level are cloud-based BI solutions and predictive maintenance.

Big benefits = big risks?

Intended to be comprehensive, the Smart Factory solution covering almost all areas of the company’s operations can be seen as risky and costly. However, this is not the real picture. Thanks to its own solutions and Road to Smart Factory, Sii Poland can perform modular transformation based on small steps. In addition, it is possible to finalize the implementation after each step and continue reaping the benefits of this implementation. Of course, it is necessary to maintain the logical sequence of implementation as it is impossible to implement a good MES system without a reliable source of data at the production level, but on the other hand, it is possible to fully digitize production and have a full picture of production data for analysis and optimization without implementing MES systems at an earlier stage.

Thanks to the modular approach, the client does not need to include a considerable financial outlay on the full, comprehensive implementation of the Smart Factory solution in the company’s investment budget.

The implementation of Smart Factory solutions can be modular

1. SCADA

How to ensure the continuous operation of the plant, effectively manage the technological process at every stage, and at the same time directly affect the parameters of machines and equipment to achieve maximum efficiency? SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) is an extremely useful tool in this situation.

– Accurate assessment of productivity requires the acquisition and processing of a huge amount of data, the analysis of which is crucial in the process of making the right decisions – explains Kamil Korziuk, Delivery Manager at Sii Poland. – Controlling technological processes, SCADA, which is the system superior to the hardware layer, such as PLC controllers, I/O modules or measuring devices, helps our clients not only to increase their productivity by monitoring and controlling the operation of machines and equipment but also to improve the quality and safety level. It also allows the collection of data at each stage of production, among others, from machines, sensors as well as execution and measurement devices in real-time and in one place, giving a holistic picture of the process. With the visualization function, the operator has continuous control over the production, and the presented data allow rapid diagnostics, e.g. the location of the source of faults or downtime – adds Kamil Korziuk.

To implement the SCADA system, you need different types of competence and knowledge of many technologies, from the driver layer, through network issues, to working with databases. The implementation also requires creating clear and ergonomic layouts of the machine park or the entire plant, generating reports and writing advanced scripts for various functions and scenarios. It is worth entrusting such a task to experienced experts. – We successfully implement SCADA systems, tailored to individual needs, which help our partners to achieve a higher level of efficiency. Our so-far developed solutions are used by clients operating, among others, in the energy, food, automotive and heavy industries – says Kamil Korziuk.

2. APS

How to identify events that can have a negative impact on the production and financial results of the enterprise?  In this case, APS – a system of advanced planning and scheduling software for production companies – is helpful. One of them is the Opcenter APS, which is a part of the holistic Siemens Opcenter MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management) solution, i.e. a production management software package. Currently, more than 4 000 clients worldwide use Opcenter APS.

– Opcenter APS is an answer to the expectations of production companies, which are currently competing on the global market and are forced to find ways to optimize production operations by limiting or eliminating events that do not bring any value – says Jacek Mechecki, Partner Management Executive at Siemens Digital Industries Software, technology partner of Sii Poland.

Such events are all kinds of disruptions that cause downtime, such as a machine failure, a sudden, urgent customer order or a delivery of materials that did not arrive on time. As a result, companies improve productivity by an average of 25%.

The demand for the system is growing, as noted by specialists from the Engineering Competency Center at Sii Poland, who are engaged in its implementation on a daily basis.

– The reason for the interest are the tangible benefits of implementing APS. It helps to increase productivity, the timeliness of the order fulfillment process, reduce stocks up to 90% and shorten the cycle time by 50%, which translates into a quick return on investment, less than 1 year – says Szymon Woźnica, Business Development Manager at Sii Poland.

Achieving such results is possible by using algorithms and calculating possible production schedules, taking into account a number of business and operational constraints, thus allowing planners to generate many scenarios and choose the optimal one.

3. Digital Twin

Proper management of a company is not only about decision-making and management of an existing process based on existing resources, but also its development through modifications and investments. How to decide on priorities when planning your investments? How to properly choose the scale of the new investment and estimate its ROI? Many companies have a problem with answering these questions, not being able to successfully and accurately calculate the planned investment within existing production processes. In this case, the ideal tool is a Digital Twin of the production plant, production line or process. It proves efficient not only in the case of a factory or process in its entirety but also a single station or production station as well as for the verification of project assumptions, efficiency and ergonomics. Thanks to advanced simulation, it is possible to verify an existing process, for example, for its bottlenecks, in a clear and transparent way.

– We analyze several solutions in the virtual world, choosing the most optimal one – says Szymon Woźnica. – We can also simulate possible performance options, e.g. taking into account the competence of operators. Therefore, if we are wondering: “which layout is better?”, “which station is my bottleneck?”, “which station – automatic or semi-automatic – to choose?”, “how large production buffers to use?” – verification of these issues is advisable. Usually, the cost of such analysis is well below 3% of the total investment, and the benefits stemming from the optimal choice increase the efficiency of the process for years. It is thanks to the low cost, and at the same time huge added value, digital twins are used more and more often in production plants. With them, our clients know exactly what the existing process allows them to do and how to develop it properly in the future – adds Szymon Woźnica.

Smart Factory is a range of tools and capabilities with huge potential, but we encourage you to take at least the first step on the road to a smart factory. To find out more, check the Engineering Competency Centre’s offer and get in touch with experts implementing industry solutions for clients from the automotive, FMCG, utilities, healthcare and other sectors.

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