Technological innovation expands rapidly in industrial markets, bringing up massive opportunities for adding value in new ways. Global leaders such as ABB and Phoenix Contact, as well as local companies operating across the border, such as Enevo Group, discussed at the Energy Breakfast Club about the current impact of new automation solutions (hardware and software) and the benefits of early understanding the opportunities for business optimization through collaboration, regardless of the business sector.
In the public conversation, as driven by mass-media, the focus is naturally placed on the new gadgets and services available to end-users, but major changes take place in the industrial segment, said , Executive Manager, Segment Sales Industry, ABB România, when opening his intervention.
“In the 1980s, the best technologies came from government research laboratories (for example, NASA). In the 1990s, businesses began using personal computers, local networks and Internet connections as key elements for technological innovation. Since 2000, technology innovation has moved into the area of end-users (mobile phones, social networks, media streaming). This phenomenon has led to explosive improvements in computing power, storage capacity and connectivity. These technologies are now expanding into industrial markets and lead to new opportunities for added-value within companies”, ABB representative pointed out.
ABB is a key player on the most dynamic segments relevant to the energy sector. Among these, the ABB representative referred to the Internet of Things (electrical networks, industrial automation, etc.), mobile internet and cloud technologies (using cloud software and providing electrical equipment for data-centers), electrification of transport, advanced exploration O&G exploration and recovery, inverters and SCADA systems for renewable energy.
“Compared to the situation in 2007, for example, we are witnessing an exponential growth for ABB in Romania, in regard with robotic lines. We have now requests for robotic lines from all areas of activity; apart from the automotive industry, we see strong demand from the food and beverage industry. In this industry, products need to be safe and healthy, and robots and automated systems allow for effective and consistent control of quality standards imposed in the food industry”, said Daniel Sirman. “Robots do not destroy jobs, while they allow for the workforce to be redirected in less physical demanding activities, along with productivity growth,” said Daniel Sirman.
In his speech, Mihai Foray, Product Manager IMA, Phoenix Contact, has started from the same global trends, where digitization plays a decisive role. “The digitization process leads to a changed world, as the interconnection of devices and the exchange of information is now available to everyone; at the same time, a different way of communication significantly changes our everyday life,” he explained. Just as smart phone has become the central element of a value-added solution, industrial controllers are at the heart of industrial value-added control solutions. Mihai Foray has exposed Phoenix Contact’s vision of a really open control platform with automation systems flexible and adaptable to market changes, with many programmers working together on a single platform in a diversified programming environment using Open Source components and connected into the cloud for developing new business models.
PLCnext technology is the proposal from Phoenix Contact putting together the solidity and determinism of a PLC with the openness and flexibility of IPC / Smart devices, this opening up new automation opportunities. “For the near future, we are preparing a marketplace / app store to offer services comparable to the spectrum of commercial consumer app stores today; different app developers will be able to upload their creations, while potential users will discover and use these either for free or for a fee”, Mihai Foray said.
In turn, , General Manager of Enevo Group, referred to the major leap in the computing power, storage power and the emergence of robust automatic learning algorithms that exploit huge volumes of data to build patterns. “Progress in the development of prescriptive analyzes by using AI based on past events to predict future events puts the automation technologies in an innovative pathway,” said Cristian Pîrvulescu.
Enevo Group’s representative mentioned some of the products for energy quality and energy efficiency developed by the company in Saudi Arabia, such as power factor correction for Ar-Razi (KSA) and Hadeed Steel Plant KSA.
“Sensors and transducers are becoming smaller, more precise and more varied and the price of technology is getting lower”, said Cristian Pîrvulescu, and this makes it possible that “any industrial process to be controlled and automated”.
Referring to the maintenance strategies for critical equipment, the Enevo Group representative said that classical diagnostics techniques and methods are limiting and inappropriate for efficiency needs, as companies strive to reduce the number of failures, cut losses with unscheduled downtimes and expenses with maintenance. At the same time, Cristian Pirvulescu also proposed a distinction between Big Data and Smart Data. “Manually collecting data consumes 80% of the time, and only 20% of the time remains available for data analysis”, he said. “Machine condition learning” solutions allow the acquisition and the use of a huge volume of data, including anticipation and avoidance of major operating incidents..
Over 50 representatives from attended the presentations and participated in discussions.
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