Overcoming Challenges in the Implementation of Industry 4.0 solutions

Encouraged by the early benefits realized from Industry 4.0 solutions in operational efficiency on the shop floor and service efficiency with smarter products, companies are now going beyond their pilot implementation for digital manufacturing.

Trends indicate that in the smart manufacturing space, early investors in Industry 4.0 initiatives are now striving for the next level of gains with global deployment of use cases and scaling of solutions by implementing an increasing number of use cases on the Internet of Things (IoT) platform framework.

While the business benefits and Return on Investments (ROI) from Industry 4.0 solutions is well understood by business leaders, it is important to note that decision making is typically very decentralized at a plant level. This makes it necessary to articulate and document the business benefits for a successful global implementation. Infosys is helping its clients navigate their Industry 4.0 journey by overcoming the challenges for global deployment of solutions to realize large scale benefits.

A five dimensional approach to overcome industry 4.0 implementation challenges

The challenges we typically encounter during the implementation of a comprehensive solution across production lines and plants, and the approach we take to overcome them, are:

A three-tier reference architecture for a seamless IT-OT integration: Given the disparate systems that typically exist across different manufacturing plants, it becomes challenging to implement a solution that takes into consideration the Information Technology (IT)-Operational Technology(OT) integration in a seamless manner right from “sensors to insight”. In other words, how can one transform the manufacturing environment such that the information in the systems residing on the shop floor can flow in real time to the systems in the enterprise allowing business leaders a view into what’s happening on the production side at any point of time?

Infosys has defined a three-tier reference architecture for such implementations of Industry 4.0 solutions, and the same has been implemented across multiple industry verticals. The reference architecture comprises:

  • Edge layer with sensors, gateway and edge analytics component
  • Shop floor/plant-level IoT platform for driving visibility at shop floor, machine and production line levels
  • Enterprise-level IoT platform for driving correlation of data and sharing insights on production parameters across plants

This reference architecture acts as a template that can be taken to multiple plants/sites for faster implementation of Industry 4.0 use cases.

A framework to gather the right data from shop floor machines/equipment: In a brown-field setup, the legacy equipment on the shop floor rarely has the necessary capacity to transmit all the data that it generates. This leads to a lack of information on the current equipment/production line efficiency and the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), making it challenging to identify and thereby address problem areas. This is a common issue we encounter at multiple implementations.

Infosys has designed a gateway framework software that helps with:

  • Equipment interface challenges by supporting standard industrial protocols for getting data from shop-floor equipment and sensors to the plant level and from thereon to the enterprise level using a router or gateway. We have also partnered with machine Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to bring in data from their industrial controller to the gateway device used for transmitting data
  • Challenges around data volume by using the right kind of filtering and pre-processing of data on the edge layer so that only necessary event-related data is pushed to the next layer for analytics
  • Latency and turn-around time by providing accurate insight to shop-floor personnel by doing analytics on the edge and passing the insight/events to handheld devices leveraging near-field communication protocols

Reducing long lead time in global deployment of uses cases/solution: Seamless and faster deployment of solutions across plants with minimal or no disruption to manufacturing operations is a key ask from every plant manager. The deployment of solutions has broadly two dimensions:

  • Helping plants prepare for the implementation by providing them with a detailed implementation plan and enabling them with the pre-requisites, and
  • Having the right toolkit that will help during the deployment phase

Infosys has devised a comprehensive deployment toolkit for adoption of Industry 4.0 solutions across plants. The toolkit consists of implementation readiness checklist, elaborate implementation/configuration document, reference framework, tools/accelerators, reference user training material, etc. These tools help in faster and seamless deployment of solution in a plant or production line.

A global machine tools company needed to modernize its factories across multiple locations to improve operational efficiency & move to paperless digitized process for various personas in their plant. Infosys IoT solution captures real-time production data from factory floor equipment and systems providing digitized process and journey maps for personas like specialists and operators. This led to an increase in the overall line effectiveness by 20%, reduction in manual paperwork by 90% and zero enterprise data duplication.

A leading global food manufacturer did not have visibility of real-time ingredients and batch operating parameters and the energy consumption for their process was not optimal. Infosys solution for real-time batch parameter trend and deviation analysis along with alerts to address specific production line operational issues helped improve visibility of batch operations and reduced manual errors by 60%. The solution also led to reduction in energy consumption in packaging area.

Lowering deployment cost: Given the scale of deployment of Industry 4.0 solutions across production lines, geographies and plants, new pricing models “Plant as a service” and “Machine connectivity as a service” are gaining adoption. These pricing models provide clear visibility to the customer on the cost involved in global implementation of use cases and how economies of scale can be leveraged to drive lower implementation cost. The Infosys pricing model takes into consideration the plant floor landscape, support and interface available for collecting equipment data, instrumentation involved for getting use case-centric data, connectivity, availability of manufacturing process data, etc. The complexities involved in the implementation of a use case is a function of these critical parameters.

Focusing on user experience: The expectation of the shop floor personnel has changed over time, from a user experience perspective. This has led to newer ways of approaching the user experience dimension during the solution development process. One critical aspect is Design Thinking-based problem definition along with Agile development. End user feedback is factored in at every step of the solution design and development.

With the adoption of the above approach, in our experience, we were able to bring down the deployment cost by close to 60% on an average by bringing in more and more capabilities to the platform framework in addition to reducing the deployment time to weeks rather than months.

Given the potential benefits and efficiency gains through the implementation of digital manufacturing solutions, it becomes imperative to provide the necessary governance to these initiatives so that any intervention or course correction can be done in a timely manner to make it a success.