First came the printing press, then the steam engine and industrialisation, and just recently the digitalisation and the Internet. These innovations have massively influenced the fabric of humanity. By all indications, yet more technology-driven and radical changes are ahead of us. The present advances in measuring and communication technologies as well as locally autonomous IT have the potential to redefine existing standards.
While the costs for measuring technology and communication are dropping, the transmission capacity continues to increase. The development of ever more powerful batteries and the decreasing power requirements of mobile end devices is turning continuous measuring and monitoring into reality. The Internet of Things (IoT) is about to revolutionise the knowledge of states of individual things and entire systems.
20 years ago, the mobile was still an innovation. But in 2007, the Smartphone already combined mobile end devices and the Internet. Wireless networks have become ever more ubiquitous and powerful in ways unimaginable when they were first introduced.
And while the number of users increased, the new features allowed the market to offer new and innovative services. Directions to the nearest restaurant and parking as well as mobile "last minute" reservations are now available everywhere.
Entirely new applications are entering the market today. They are determining the optimum for each user by analysing a multitude of profiles. The best examples are navigation apps which use speed data of traffic to determine traffic congestions much more precisely and make the delay times instantly available.
While the primary purpose of individual mobile phones is not the reporting of traffic congestions, the similar movements of a multitude of mobile phones is a perfect example of the IoT.
In parallel to swarm intelligence, there are also new opportunities for automation between corporations. The automation of transactions between suppliers and end customers as well as digitally supported B2B services will increase.
The intelligent integration of IT between corporations also creates new production opportunities which results in increased product life cycles. This objective requires that all players have a holistic view of the production and maintenance processes.
The maintenance of production assets continues be a significant cost factor for all industries. However, the products of the traditional production industry are subject to very fast changes which also requires upgrades to the production equipment. In contrast, the change cycles of the energy distribution tend to be much longer. Therefore the operation and maintenance are even more important factors in determining whether the cost structure of an energy supply company is market-oriented.
In typical energy distribution networks, the typical life cycle of expensive assets such as transformers, switchgear, and overhead power lines is 40 to 50 years. Due to the significant cost of these assets, extending the operational life cycle provides an important lever to reduce cost. Right here Industry 4.0 will provide major benefits.
Within a very short time, the industry will be able to acquire and transmit wirelessly all measurements which today still require a technician on site. This not only saves the time of the technician to travel to the equipment and to perform the measurements but also provides new tools to assess the state of the equipment. Once a significant base of measured values is available, the precision of forecasts and trend analysis will far exceed today's capabilities.
Improved maintenance scheduling and data-driven installation of spare parts in combination with intelligent fieldforce management systems will significantly reduce the costs for maintenance crews. Linking the ERP systems results in on-time delivery by the supplier as well as timely requests of expert teams of the supplier as needed. This extends the life cycles and thereby reduces capital expenses.
Reliable measurement data provide not only information about the aging of the equipment. The correlation to the system settings of the surrounding network also provides information about dangerous operational situations. "In situ" measurements can identify and mitigate these situations. This requires correlating the equipment values acquired by IoT with the network situations in the control system.
The combination of the global view of the entire network and the knowledge about the equipment pool and its state allows local responses to protect equipment. These responses must be synchronised with the already established network state optimisation. Therefore the simulation algorithms require new variables to include this new information.
ERP systems in combination with the process control of PSI Automotive & Industry on one hand and the warehouse management and logistics solutions of PSI Logistics on the other hand cover the typical production and distribution processes.
The PSI business unit Electrical Energy has long-term experience in SCADA, value acquisition, and processing. The acquisition, validation, and initial processing of data as well as advanced processing by various special systems are the main components of control systems. The PSI fieldforce management system PSIcommand provides optimised dispatching of service orders for internal as well as external service teams.
While making these systems increasingly "intelligent", PSI has accumulated years of experience with the Qualicision® optimisation core of the PSI subsidiary F/L/S Fuzzy Logik Systems. This core is currently used for optimisation in a variety of special applications such as warehousing, bus parking, production plans, and service routes.
The task at hand is the integration of already existing components and the realisation of an overall system. As the initial step, PSI offers the contents integration between a PSIcontrol-based SCADA system and the asset services managed by PSIcommand. The IoT measurements shared with the SCADA system and the state analysis using these data may result in PSIcommand in maintenance interval modifications or repair orders in case of outages. In turn, PSIcommand directly integrates any orders into the service teams schedules which can then be processed with the mobile components. The completion of a repair order also results in a new assessment of the equipment state.
The PSI software Qualicision® provides two benefits. It provides a meaningful state assessment of the equipment based on the dependencies of old and new measured values, the time between the value acquisitions, and the relevance of the measured variables. In addition Qualicision® also provides optimised integration of the new work activities in the overall work schedules of the teams.
This also results in two benefits for the customer: First, reduction of costs by more precise maintenance intervals, reduced number of inspections, and more focused inspections due to premature aging. Second, the automatically determined workload including the required materials are directly optimised and assigned to the service teams.
The close cooperation between our customers and PSI has contributed substantially to the maturity of the PSI software systems. The resulting products provide industry-specific and efficient process management and control. The increasing cost pressure forces the realisation of optimisation strategies in all industries. PSI has incorporated its optimisation expertise in process control systems in the respective industry-specific solutions. This step absolutely requires understanding of the specific context and industry-specific knowledge.
For the entire chain of the upcoming Industry 4.0, PSI offers systems and references which provide a flexible and adaptable optimisation tool based on Qualicision®. In addition to the industry knowledge, the expertise with the optimisation of all steps can also be integrated in the Industry 4.0 solutions.
The advances in local, mobile, and cost-effective measurement equipment will also affect the networks and network management in other areas of the energy industry. Technologies for measuring and controlling low voltage networks and automatic determination of topology of to date unknown network islands as well as services for controlling intelligent secondary substations (iSS) are already feasible today.
Increasing maintenance efficiency by integration of various systems for ordering, production, shipping, and installation of spare parts is realistic in the immediate future. With its variety of products, PSI is therefore optimally prepared for Industry 4.0.
Photos (top to bottom): fotolia/vege | PSI AG