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Three advantages of IT/OT convergence 20/05/2019

Engineers and academics have been extolling the benefits of IT and OT convergence as far back as the early 1980s, but many businesses are still reluctant to adopt platforms that combine the two. Here, Martyn Williams, managing director of industrial software provider COPA-DATA UK, explains the advantages of IT and OT convergence.

In a 1982 paper published by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the authors proposed a new control system architecture for use in an Automated Manufacturing Research Facility (AMRF).

In a diagram reminiscent of a castle, the shapes that make up the control system appear to create two fortified tower-like structures joined by a flat wall-like section in the centre. The tower on the right depicts a hierarchical database that contains the control programs that define how to manufacture parts — think of this as the operational technology (OT) of today.

The tower on the left makes up the hierarchical database that contains the management information system and data on the state of the parts — think of this as information technology (IT). Finally, the wall in the middle is made up of I/O lines and feedback control loops connected to boxes that represent robotic workstations and machine tools.

While these structures were symptomatic of their time, they have historically separated IT and OT teams both figuratively and literally, with staff often working in different departments or even different facilities. In contrast, today’s control architectures have broken down the rigid structures, replacing them with highly integrated and free-flowing systems that are flexible and easy to change based on business needs.

Advantage one: Profit

Whether you call it digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT) or Industry 4.0, the primary driver for businesses seeking automation improvements is to bolster the bottom line. At a time when political uncertainty is driving up the cost of doing business, many organisations are looking inward, searching for those all-important marginal gains.

The convergence of IT and OT not only benefits from the resource sharing of connected devices, but it also promises to boost productivity. Better scheduling, production planning, material allocation, product tracking and real-time access to process data are quick and easy with the two realms working in sync.
However, without an effective digital platform running at the heart of the system, businesses will continue to face issues with complexity, compatibility and cost.

This is why COPA-DATA developed zenon, a manufacturing and automation software platform that provides a single, integrated environment, combining data recording, machine operation and business intelligence. Using zenon, manufacturers can eliminate the redundancy and cost associated with running two separate overlapping IT and OT systems, delivering better performance and productivity.

Advantage two: People

The second major benefit of combining IT and OT is to allow staff on both sides to overcome their differences. Cybersecurity, decision-making, scalability and downtime are just some areas that can put IT and OT staff at odds with each other.

Take downtime, for example. In mission critical applications such as food and beverage production, where unexpected downtime could result in spoiled produce, OT staff may be responsible for getting the line back up and running as quickly as possible. IT staff, on the other hand, may be responsible for ensuring data integrity for traceability purposes and will therefore prioritise this task.

In this situation, a software platform such as zenon can help IT and OT staff collectively solve their problems. zenon’s network technology features seamless and circular redundancy and high availability, so that downtime is eliminated. For engineers, it also offers post-event fault analysis and allows operators to reload modified functions without having to restart the system. Similarly, data archiving allows IT staff to immediately retrieve and store traceability data.

Advantage three: Place

Business theory dictates that if you want to make it difficult for your competitors to enter your market, you need to put up barriers to entry. This includes technological, regulatory or economical hurdles that you’ve spent years overcoming, and ones that make it unattractive for new entrants to replicate.
But what if these same hurdles prevent you growing as a business? This is often the case in “places” such as sugar refining, dairy processing, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Businesses in these industry sectors have spent decades developing finely tuned proprietary processes that are not only difficult to automate, they’re difficult to scale.

Take sugar refining for example. Because the harvesting window for sugar cane is so narrow — typically three months from December to March — manufacturers are under pressure to ensure that they can quickly setup the plant for seasonal production. What’s more, the process of turning raw sugar cane into the processed sugar we’re familiar with is a complex one. This involves many steps including shredding, milling, juice extraction, clarification, evaporation, syrup production, crystallisation, centrifugation, drying and packaging.

All these processes need to be carefully co-ordinated as any downtime can be critical to the success of the final product. If the refining process doesn’t align perfectly with the harvesting window manufacturers may suffer from perished crops and lost revenue.

Here, the integration of IT and OT is essential in democratising automation, levelling the playing field and facilitating business growth. To allow customers to achieve this, we’ve ensured zenon supports open standards such as OPC UA, as well as being built with over 300 open interfaces and native drivers. The platform runs on common industrial clients and operating systems and offers visualisation using standard HTML5 web technology.

Take advantage now

As the industry breaks down the rigid barriers of traditional engineering structures, we’re seeing how powerful digital platforms can be in underpinning the sustainable convergence of IT and OT. The advantages are clear, it’s time for businesses to act. Maybe in another forty years, engineers will look back and wonder why industry was so reluctant to topple the figurative IT and OT castles.

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The end of the automation pyramid? 18/03/2019

Stefan Reuther Chief Sales Officer at COPA-DATA, explains why IT/OT convergence will lead to the collapse of the automation pyramid

As a pictorial example of the different levels of automation in a factory, the automation pyramid has long been used as a visual aid to understand how layers of technology communicate.

Starting from process and field levels, working up to the corporate level of manufacturing processes, the traditional pyramid illustrates how devices, actuators and sensors on the factory floor are distinctly separate from other areas, such as process control, supervisory networks and enterprise systems.

The automation pyramid was theorized in the 1980’s, when comprehensive control software was practically unheard of. Today however, this software is becoming ubiquitous to the operation of manufacturing facilities. So, where does this leave the automation pyramid?

Put simply, the traditional concept is collapsing.

Traditional practices

Comprehensive control software is a relatively new addition to manufacturing plants, but that is not to say software was completely absent from historical factories.

Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) were the first example of using software to visualize data on a factory floor. However, because each piece of equipment and relative HMI operated a standalone device, the insight was limited.

For an overview of production in its entirety, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems were implemented to collate data from multiple HMIs. Usually, these systems generated a graphical interface to help operators understand and control multiple systems.

However, this still leaves a space between the SCADA level and enterprise systems, the final level of the automation pyramid. As a result, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) were deployed to bridge the gap.

The automation pyramid was born.

The automation pyramid is a widely understood manufacturing concept. However, it would be absurd to suggest this 30-year-old approach to managing automation levels fits today’s manufacturing climate.

Today, managing these processes in a single, comprehensive software platform is not unrealistic. In fact, COPA-DATA’s   zenon  , a software which enables data exchange between all layers of automation, has been demonstrating this ability since the software’s inception.

The traditional automation pyramid is no longer necessary. However, many manufacturers are reluctant to abandon the traditional concept.

Technically speaking, manufacturers can still choose to manage their levels of automation using this traditional pyramid method. However, there are scenarios where it makes no sense to stick to this model.

Collapsing the pyramid

IT/OT convergence is just one example. Manufacturers are widely practicing IT/OT convergence to integrate enterprise systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications, with operational technology like MES and SCADA systems.

Traditionally, these areas have remained separate layers of the pyramid, but their ability to influence a company’s performance means it makes business sense to allow these layers to communicate and inform one another.

Consider automotive manufacturing as an example. There are huge planning benefits of integrating CRM data with both ERP and car production. If an engineer can identify the fault in the manufacturing of the product, by analyzing CRM and maintenance data, production can be automatically adjusted to correct the error. Of course, this is just an example, but IT/OT convergence is occurring in almost every sector.

The traditional automation pyramid doesn’t allow for fluid communication between its different levels, importantly, the control level as it might be possible today. Considering that logic can be placed practically everywhere in a manufacturing facility, such as PCs, PLCs, edge devices and in the cloud, it makes no sense to separate this area.

Egypt’s pyramids may be ancient in comparison to the engineering concept of the automation pyramid. However, considering the rapid pace of change experienced in the manufacturing industry, it could be argued that the concept is equally outdated.

To reap the benefits of the technology available in industry, manufacturers must look beyond rigid and traditional pyramid structures.

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ROI as a goal in the smart factory 21/08/2018

Research from Barclays Corporate Banking shows over half of manufacturers are reporting improved productivity thanks to the adoption of I4.0 technologies; yet two thirds state they are yet to experience a return on investment. Here, COPA-DATA UK's Lee Sullivan explains the steps manufacturers can take to boost ROI

ROI is a priority for manufacturing. However, making radical changes to a factory is not always a feasible option. A complete systems overhaul, for instance, could be the quickest and most straightforward way to optimise production. However, it can be incredibly costly and comes with high risk, and possibly long periods of downtime — not to mention cultural challenges that accompany a shift in how a factory operates. 

Instead, most factories will choose to make small incremental changes to increase their overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and, in turn, improve their ROI.

The process of improvement usually begins by recognising limitations in the factory or within certain processes. This could be related to plant production time or plant performance management, equipment failures, product defects or even a lack of human skills to manufacture. However, without hard data, identifying these constraints can be time consuming, if manually completed, and complex. Therefore, software is recommended to simplify the process.

Monitoring and data acquisition software can quickly identify baseline figures for major losses in throughput across the production plant or the product manufacturing process. This data should be collected over a set period of time. From here, manufacturers can identify the most critical or valuable place to start improvements.
Following the deployment of software to collect this baseline data, the manufacturer can compare OEE results against real data and historical reports and begin a continuous improvement (CI) process.

CI, of course, is not a new phenomenon, but digitisation of lean manufacturing losses is.  This would enable easy analysis and correlation with productions figures, showing potential areas for improvement in a factory which in turn will help to increase ROI. 

Reducing waste

Being able to monitor OEE, total productive maintenance (TPM) and CI would highlight potential areas for improvement, but also identify whether improvement projects established have facilitated the manufacturing process. For example, a measurable indicator which can lead to improved ROI.

Waste reduction is an example of CI. This term describes the non-value-added wastages that absorb time and money. Eliminating waste is a vital part of the lean manufacturing methodology and is often the first step to improving processes.

Using monitoring software, these wastages can be digitalised and monitored, offering manufacturers the knowledge to minimise poor quality. In fact, a COPA-DATA customer in the automotive industry was able to save 5 per cent on man hours per employee using digital fault logging.

Take the waste of waiting as an example. In a manufacturing facility, this could describe a halt in production due to a delivery delay, unplanned system downtime or wasted minutes or hours due to poorly planned production schedules.

Using software, this waste can be digitally recorded and reported, identifying the reasons why a delivery has not arrived, why certain machines are not hitting their cycle times or when pieces of equipment are entirely idle.

Waste reduction can also be achieved by using software for statistical process control (SPC) reports, a method of measuring and controlling quality during manufacturing. Naturally, well defined production and product processes will reduce scrap waste. Cutting down variability will not only improve quality in assembled parts but could reduce customer complaints and improve sales through customer satisfaction.

COPA-DATA’s industrial software, zenon, can generate SPC reports automatically, recording process capabilities which, in turn, shift factories towards boosting ROI.

Increasing ROI may be a priority for manufacturers but investing heavily in a software overhaul can be daunting. A dramatic overhaul not only generates risk but could create cultural challenges for the plant.

zenon is fully scalable. This means that end users do not need to jump straight into the deep end and deploy the software on every value stream area. They could begin with a smaller system, such as capturing downtime and throughput.

Upon analysing the results of this metric, manufacturers can begin to measure other areas for improvement, such as production quality, CI projects, mobile connectivity, recipe groups, or even begin vertical integration by linking the software to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and cloud solutions.

Manufacturers expect to experience a rapid ROI after adopting new technologies — whether it be robotics, automation, sensors or enterprise software. According to Barclays Corporate Banking research, these investments are reaping productivity rewards for manufacturers. However, without identifying areas for improvement, how can manufacturers optimise their facilities to their full potential?

The answer is in their data.

Key Points

  • The process of improvement usually begins by recognising limitations in the factory or within certain processes
  • Monitoring and data acquisition software can quickly identify baseline figures for major losses in throughput
  • COPA-DATA’s industrial software, zenon, can generate SPC reports automatically, recording process capabilities

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HMI design in the age of the Smart Factory 04/04/2017

The concept of user-defined HMI, which adapts itself to a specific user or situation, makes information handling easier and speeds up process reaction time. Zenon screen & interaction designer Anita Perchermeier explains briefly how it works

Companies must make many adjustments to transform a manufacturing site into a smart factory - one of which is with the HMI. The demand for a variety of data and information is constantly changing. Different users have different needs. A good HMI will have taken this into account and have the ability to amend itself according to the user, context and requirements.

demand for a variety of data and information is constantly changing

Data requirements, the type of information and the amount of information, change ever more quickly. As a result, the context in which a machine is operated also changes. In addition, different users have different requirements.

For example, a manager may like to have an overview of the production figures, but a machine operator needs information from sensors. A person who is colour bind needs higher screen contrasts. A user-defined HMI thus offers the best way to work with such varied requirements.

Zenon is an open-design, object-oriented industrial automation application developed by the Austrian company COPA-DATA. It is used by many companies around the world for process visualisation, as a Human-Machine-Interface (HMI) and as a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. Its openness makes fast, efficient interfaces with any hardware or software possible.

Process gateway

Zenon communicates via standard interfaces such as COM, ActiveX, XML or its own process gateway. It can also communicate with many proprietary interfaces, including RFC/BAPI (as used by SAP). All the control connections are programmed in-house at COPA-DATA, fine-tuned for the target system and then exhaustively tested. Zenon also has a process gateway, to allow other systems to address it as a PLC; this, for instance, enables direct communication via Modbus or OPC UA.
In Zenon, widgets can be created in order to have a constant overview of currently relevant information. In runtime, these widgets can be scaled and positioned with conventional multi-touch gestures. Depending on the situation, the user can create their own dashboard this way and easily change this at any time.

Different user level privileges allow locking to be set up and control the visibility of elements. This is not just for security, but can also be used for individual user support: a beginner is instructed with more explanations and buttons, while an expert prefers a “short cut” for frequently-used actions, without explanations being shown. Experts also have advanced operating options available, which are not visible for beginners. Different filter profiles (such as time filter, AML filter or trend display settings) can be created for each user and thus optimally display relevant information according to each user and each task.

In addition to context-based user support, general ergonomic requirements should also be kept in mind, which differ from user to user. A user-defined HMI helps here too: different colour palettes can be created, depending on the time of day, lighting conditions or personal preferences. Zenon Chameleon Technology allows switching between different skins with a single click. This enables, for example, various colour sight deficiencies or the corporate identity of a company to be taken into account.

Screens can be configured with the help of free-form templates and freely positioned using Touch. If they are not required at a particular moment, they are hidden at the edges of the monitor.

Depending on whether the user is right-handed or left-handed, windows and dialogues can be arranged as desired, according to the process and the task. The user interface settings can be saved individually with the help of Runtime profiles.

Key Points

  • Zenon is an open-design, object-oriented industrial automation application used for process visualisation, as an HMI and as a SCADA system
  • Communicates via standard interfaces such as COM, ActiveX, XML or own process gateway; can also communicate with proprietary interfaces
  • All the control connections programmed in-house at COPA-DATA, fine-tuned for the target system and exhaustively tested

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IT/OT convergence: challenges & benefits 13/09/2016

The convergence of industrial automation and communication is an integral part of the growing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Martyn Williams, MD of COPA-DATA UK, explains the changing responsibilities of IT and OT.

IT and OT convergence describes the integration of IT systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications, with OT systems, such as Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). Traditionally, IT and OT have remained two separate silos, maintaining independent protocols, standards and governance models. However, for companies pursuing operational effectiveness, increased profits and growth, the convergence of these two systems is a no brainer.

Reaping the rewards

As IT and OT independently influence a company’s performance, bridging the gap between these technologies allows for easier performance management. Regardless of whether a manufacturer wants to increase operational effectiveness or generate growth, there is a strong case for pursuing IT and OT convergence.

Creating a common platform for both information and operational data means businesses can generate more relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) and pursue common objectives while also benefitting from company-wide visibility. Greater transparency of operations means harmonising business strategies across geographical sites and departments is much simpler.

For the food and beverage industry, for example, a cider producer would benefit from integrating third party IT, such as weather data and consumer marketing activities with internal IT systems and OT on the factory floor. Cider producers will want to know if there’s a sunny weekend on the horizon, as customers are likely to buy more alcoholic beverages. By integrating this data with an ERP or MES connection, intelligent SCADA software can download the required production plan and ingredient quantities and communicate exact control parameters to the connected process equipment to begin production.

Not only does this speed up time-to-market and reduce costs, but also allows for on-demand manufacturing that business to consumer manufacturers experience on a daily basis.

There are many notable benefits of IT and OT convergence, but in the manufacturing world, this transition is not without its problems.

Challenging the status quo

Manufacturing is not always the quickest sector to embrace technological change, especially where OT and hardware are concerned. On the other hand, IT departments usually have a positive approach to embracing new technology. When outlining a common governance model, these cultural differences can cause friction.

Successful implementation of IT and OT convergence requires a substantial change management effort so that the entire workforce is on board with the project. In most cases, this often involves remodeling and retraining the workforce or changing processes and procedures.

Another worry for manufacturers is the changing security risks the merger of IT and OT brings. For industrial control systems, security cannot be an afterthought. However, by following standards and best practices of IEC 62443, companies can significantly minimise their security risks.

IEC 62443 is a standard that directly addresses IT security for industrial automation and control system (IACS) networks. Under this standard, manufacturers must address both the technical and organisational aspects of how employees access and use the network, therefore enhancing security against external threats.

Finding a native language

Bridging the worlds of IT and OT could provide manufacturers with the competitive advantage needed to gain both marketspace and market share, but it is no easy feat. Successful implementation requires a deep understand of each system involved, including the industrial and IT systems, devices and networks. Independent and flexible automation software, like COPA-DATA’s zenon, provides a native language to connect these systems in an efficient and seamless manner – while still providing production monitoring, data arching and reporting throughout the production process. Native communication also has the benefit of being independent of any hardware manufacturer, ensuring easy integration for both new and legacy systems.

Over the last few decades, manufacturers have approached IT and OT as entirely separate domains. However, the convergence of these two manufacturing layers is rewriting the industry rules. By finding a native language between both processes, manufacturers are reaping the rewards of enhanced performance and increased manufacturing flexibility.

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Cloud computing for smart manufacturing 26/04/2016

The analytic advantages of cloud computing in industry are no secret with many users actively pursuing cloud-based analytics to gleam greater insights and efficiency in order to achieve business goals, says Martyn Williams, managing director at COPA-DATA UK.

For the manufacturing industry, the benefits of migrating to cloud computing have been heavily publicised, but in an industry that has been slow to embrace new technology, a mass move to the cloud can feel like a leap in the unknown. Despite an increased adoption of smart manufacturing technologies, some companies may still feel hesitant. Instead, many decide to test the water by implementing a cloud storage model in just one production site. However, this implementation model can only provide limited benefits in comparison to a mass, multi-site migration to the cloud.

So what should companies expect to undertake during their cloud migration?

Define business objectives

Before migrating to the cloud, companies should first consider how it can help them achieve -and in some cases refine - their business objectives and plan their migration with these objectives in mind. For businesses that want to improve collaboration and benchmarking across multiple locations, for example, the cloud plays a significant role.

A company with multiple production sites operating in several locations will be familiar with the complications of cross-facility benchmarking. Often, business objectives or key performance indicators (KPIs) are only set for single site locations. In an ideal situation, the business objectives have to be coordinated across all locations to offer a clear, company-wide mission.

To achieve better collaboration and transparency across sites, companies can resort to using a cloud storage and computing application that gathers all available production data (from multiple production sites) in one place. Certain individuals or teams in the company can be granted access to relevant data sets and reports, depending on their responsibilities within the organisation.

Determine the ideal status

Once a business objective is clear, companies should identify what the ideal status of each process is. By using production data and energy information stored and analysed in the cloud, a company can gain insight on productivity, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), energy usage and more. This insight helps companies make changes that will bring the existing production environment closer to the ideal status.

Combined with the right SCADA software, the cloud unlocks rich company-wide data sets. By bridging information from different facilities in real-time, the software generates a bird’s eye view of company-wide operations and detailed analysis of energy consumption, productivity and other operational KPIs. This makes it easier for a company to monitor progress against the original business objectives and scale up or down when necessary.

Already, a large number of manufacturers are using industrial automation to speed up production and increase efficiency. With the large scale adoption of intelligent machinery, cloud computing is poised to become the obvious solution to store and manage the complexity of data this industry connectivity creates.

Unlike the restrictions associated with on-premises storage, cloud based models provide unlimited scalability, allowing companies to store both real-time and historical data from all production their sites and integrate any new production lines or sites to their cloud solution in a seamless manner. When accompanied with data analytics software, like zenon Analyzer, cloud computing can help companies prevent potential problems in production and even ignite entirely new business models.

Continuous improvement

For manufacturers with strict energy efficiency and productivity targets, easy access to company-wide data is invaluable. However, the knowledge provided by the cloud does not end with past and present data, but also gives manufacturers a glimpse into the future of their facilities.

By using the cloud, companies can implement a long-term continuous improvement strategy. Often, continuous improvement will follow the simple Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model often used in energy management applications. This allows companies to make decisions based on data analytics and to evaluate the effectiveness of those decisions in the short and medium run.

Using data collected from industrial machinery, companies can also employ predictive analytics technology to forecast why and when industrial machinery is likely to fail, which also means they can minimise costly downtime.

Predictive analytics allows manufacturers to identify potential problems with machinery before breakdowns occur. Avoiding expensive overheads for production downtime and costly fines for unfulfilled orders, the priceless insights predictive analytics can provide is the obvious solution to such costly problems.


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Smart factory solutions 20/10/2015

At this year's SPS IPC Drives COPA-DATA is presenting consistent and robust solutions for the Smart Factory. With zenon, companies can construct scalable value networks – be it on-premises, in hybrid environments or in the cloud. The software for HMI/SCADA and Dynamic Production Reporting offers solutions that excel in flexibility and expandability, are ergonomic and aim for resource efficiency.

The zenon Cloud Solution makes it possible to integrate zenon with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and easily provide all data from different production locations and sites of a company in just one system, in real-time. It enables companies to compare and correlate this data and display it in the form of clear dashboards.

With this new solution, companies can also pursue approaches such as energy management, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), etc. at a global level, and use zenon as a tool for company-wide optimisation. Hall 7 Booth 590

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Making the most of ESOS 17/08/2015

Going above and beyond is the only way to improve energy efficiency; it is taking the initiative to implement more efficient processes and equipment that can make your facilities more energy efficient and save you a considerable amount of money says Martyn Williams, managing director of COPA-DATA UK

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) was first introduced to the UK in 2014 as a way of implementing the European Energy Efficiency Directive. One year later, the first official project deadline is fast approaching. Whilst getting your first energy audit signed off may be all you're thinking about right now, it's important to remember that the audit alone won't save you money.

ESOS introduces a programme of regular energy audits for 'large enterprises'. This means they employ at least 250 people or have an annual turnover in excess of £38,937,777 (or €50 million). December 5, 2015 is the official deadline for submitting your first energy audit. The audit considers the energy used by your production line, office facilities and means of transport.

Completing an energy audit

If you qualify for ESOS and are yet to work towards your energy audit, you first need to appoint a lead assessor. An assessor will carry out and oversee your energy audits and overall ESOS assessment. A lead assessor can be one of your employees, but he or she must be a member of an approved professional body such as the Association of Energy Engineers or The Energy Managers Association. Alternatively, professional bodies are able to outsource assessors to businesses who are in need of one.

After completion you should submit your ESOS notification of compliance to the Environment Agency. This needs to happen before December 5, 2015 and should be repeated every four years. You also need to keep a record of your compliance with ESOS in the form of an evidence pack. There is no set format for this, so your assessor can tailor it to suit your business.

What next?

You may have avoided a hefty fine by completing your energy audit, but the possibilities to save money don’t end there. If you want to go beyond compliance, you can implement ISO 50001. The standard is applicable regardless of the size of the company and industry it operates in.

The International Standard Organisation (ISO) estimated ISO 50001 could influence up to 60 per cent of the world’s energy use. The core principle of ISO 50001 is its ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ (PDCA) continual improvement framework.

The standard requires companies to develop a policy for more efficient energy use and fix targets and objectives to meet the policy. This includes the implementation of all types of technology from energy efficient light bulbs to smart meters and sensors.

Energy data management systems

One way of making sure your ESOS energy pack is up to date is to use an Energy Data Management System (EDMS). To truly make significant reductions in energy consumption, companies should implement an EDMS that allows the use of relevant measurement data across the array of your processes and sites. A good EDMS should be able to collect and process data from the entire equipment infrastructure of a production line. This means it should be compatible with all the major communication protocols, covering all the important standards, right up to individual drivers used in a specific application. Users can then request targeted queries from any sensor, meter, measuring device or machinery. Additionally, due to its hardware independence and impressive connectivity, integrating a good EDMS into existing infrastructures should occur smoothly, without any disruption.

Secondly, an EDMS must be scalable. As the company grows, the system should allow the seamless integration of new devices or machines. It should also facilitate the simple creation of new reports, data visualisation and straightforward addition of new users. Anyone from the CEO to the machine operator should be able to access the data that an EDMS collects at any time, and as the company grows this becomes even more important.

Another important feature is flexibility when it comes to the reporting function of an EDMS. The ability to generate reports based on both historical data and real time data according to the user’s needs is crucial. Displaying information such as energy performance indicators, trend curves, alarms, cost distribution or load duration curves in a clear way carries a lot of weight.

If you're treating the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme as a requirement, don't expect to save money or improve your energy efficiency. ESOS should be a continuous process similar to that used in the ISO 50001 standard. This will guarantee better energy efficiency in the workplace and will put your mind at ease when it comes to your company’s carbon footprint.

Key Points

  • If you qualify for ESOS and are yet to work towards your energy audit, you first need to appoint a lead assessor
  • You need to submit your ESOS notification of compliance to the Environment Agency before 5th December 2015
  • One way of making sure your ESOS energy pack is up to date is to use an Energy Data Management System (EDMS)


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A look into the future of HMIs 21/07/2015

What will human machine interfaces (HMIs) look like in the future? And how can operators themselves influence optimum use of systems by means of user-generated operational aids? The joint project “HMI 4.0” created by Fraunhofer Institute for Labor Economics and Organization (Fraunhofer IAO) is focusing on these questions. Software specialist, COPA-DATA, is also on board as know-how and software partner for this cross-industry, innovative collaboration.

In a trend study Fraunhofer IAO has identified and examined the most important areas to consider for successful human machine interaction in production. The study provides insight into ergonomic HMI design and the integration of new technologies such as social media, interaction and recognition technology.

Project manager, Dr. Matthias Peissner from Fraunhofer IAO explains: "In the future the meaning of HMIs will go over and beyond pure monitoring and operation. HMIs will also become a platform for the team where cooperative decisions, knowledge building and problem solving can take place. We are developing tailor-made approaches in the innovation network HMI 4.0. This is how we can help our partners achieve a competitive advantage.”

The joint HMI 4.0 project was established after the study and runs from autumn 2014 until May 2016. Companies that work with complex production equipment, machine manufacturers as well as software and technology corporations such as COPA-DATA are on board. Together they are developing how, in times of Industry 4.0, user-generated operational aids can be implemented in the HMIs of the future. The project thereby highlights the useful options of HMI design and performance from as many perspectives as possible.

Uncovering a worldwide key problem

Across the world numerous production sites are confronted with similar key problems in machine operation. Only a limited number of employees have the know-how to quickly and successfully repair a fault. Often the optimum settings of machines and equipment are also left to individual experts. Their know-how is only rarely systematically recorded, thereby remaining unavailable for other employees and also for the knowledge management of the company. Entire plants are therefore dependent on a few individuals and their availability.

"Dealing with malfunctions is crucial for efficient production plants,” Dr. Peissner asserts. Thus, the ones who will succeed in creating a successful solution for making faults accessible to all machine operators, are improving the performance of the entire system and will, in turn, increase the productivity of a plant. Often however, sufficient documentation of the problem from the users themselves is lacking.

Uncovering these issues is what the participants of project HMI 4.0 are working on; which properties future interfaces must present in order to motivate employees to share their knowledge. As a result, HMIs of the future should actively contribute to storing and distributing knowledge within a company, in a simpler and more reliable way.

Prototypes based on zenon lead the way

In order to unite science and practice most effectively, innovative concepts and solution approaches are first being developed within the joint project. Findings from topics such as gamified design, psychology or awareness and learning are collected in order to bring together useful and necessary components from instructions. In focus are the usability and efficiency of operational aids, the motivational incentive, the organisation, as well as the profitability of such a system.

In the second step the workshop participants implement their solutions in concrete prototypes in reference to specific use cases. Here, COPA-DATA's automation software zenon serves as a basis for the development of interactive and motivational HMI operation aids. "Ergonomic human machine interaction is one of our core competencies. The project ties in perfectly in order to continually build on this. For us, the human in the Smart Factory of Industry 4.0 plays a significant role. With an ergonomic software and his know-how, he or she will have the competitive advantage in every production,” explains Phillip Werr, Marketing Manager at COPA-DATA.

In the future, user-generated operational aids should efficiently support handling in error situations of automated processes. They should become a tool to relay their machine operating knowledge to the expert more easily and rapidly. The background system must additionally carry out important quality assurance tasks. On the one hand what counts here is the analysis of the area and how didactically user-friendly the aids are. On the other hand, motivational factors for the user should be included, so that the existing knowledge can be fed into the system promptly.

From research to product development

Guidelines for creating helpful and secure instructions are developed from sketches of the prototypes from user-based information within HMIs. "zenon will make the integration of generated knowledge possible, even in higher-level systems right up to the general knowledge management of a company and in Cloud applications,” explains Werr.

The goal of taking the quickest way to include current research findings in market-ready products is always in focus at COPA-DATA. In 2014 the software manufacturer invested around seven million Euro into Research and Development. "For us, COPA-DATA is an important member of the team. With the advancement of zenon the acquired solutions are finding quick and effective use in practical applications”, says Dr. Peissner regarding further steps for the scientific project.

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COPA-DATA event for Northern European Partners 18/05/2015

Industrial automation software specialist, COPA-DATA, is uniting members of its Partner Community with an exclusive event aimed at stimulating ideas for the future of automation. The Northern European Partner Academy 2015 is a two day event held at the function rooms of Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, on 9th and 10th June 2015.

All COPA-DATA partners from the UK and Scandinavia are welcome to attend the event free of charge, but limited seating will mean a definite sell out.

The first of the two information-packed days will be comprised of insights into the latest version of COPA-DATA's HMI/SCADA software - zenon 7.20. Particular attention will be paid to its applications in energy management, efficiency in manufacturing and the food and beverage industry.

The initial day will also provide a platform for partners to take part in  debates regarding the latest industry trends. There will be a focus on Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things and Big Data, as well as the chance to learn about how COPA-DATA's solutions can help companies take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution.

The second day will be dedicated to two specialist workshops - running parallel. One will focus on the standard for communication and systems for power utility automation - IEC 61850 - and the other on Big Data.

Participants will have to make the difficult choice between learning about how IEC 61850 is revolutionising electrical grids and how zenon can be used to archive and analyse vast sets of information.

"The Northern European Partner Academy is an excellent opportunity for existing and potential COPA-DATA partners to catch up on the latest industry insights and learn some technical tips first-hand from our expert team," enthused Martyn Williams, Managing Director of COPA-DATA UK.

"On top of all this there's the chance to network with representatives from some of the most cutting-edge companies in the UK and Scandinavia," continued Williams.

"Within the COPA-DATA Partner Community we focus on straight forward, exclusive and "personal communication," explained Lisette Lillo Fagerstedt, Partner Programme Manager of COPA-DATA. "By providing our partners with the latest products and industry insights, we assure the best possible support to our zenon customers.

"COPA-DATA’s local Partner Academies are also great complement to the Global Partner Academy that is held every second year.”

For more information about COPA-DATA's Northern European Partner Academy 2015, go to http://www.copadata.com/NEPA15.

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