Author Archive | Gary Parr


7:13 pm
August 10, 2017
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Study Helps You Evaluate Your Industry 4.0 Future

parrmugAlmost any conversation you have these days involving manufacturing technology will either begin or end with discussion about Industry 4.0 (Manufacturing 4.0, Internet of Things, Industrial Internet of Things, cloud computing, smart factories). In my analysis, so much of the talk is just talk. People realize that they need to embrace Industry 4.0, in many cases, because others say so, and in some cases because they know that it is the future of manufacturing, that the future is here, and that many are already getting left behind.

The questions on my mind are where companies may be on the continuum that moves them to full implementation of Industry 4.0 technology and what factors must be addressed? I recently received answers in the form of a white paper summarizing research that Frost & Sullivan’s Digital Industrial Group ( conducted in collaboration with NTT Data Services, Plano, TX.

The publication, “Manufacturing 4.0: A Playbook for Navigating the Journey to IT Modernization & Transformation,” outlines six critical issues in today’s manufacturing ecosystems that must be addressed if an enterprise is going to embrace and benefit from Industry 4.0. (The white paper refers to it as Manufacturing 4.0. It would really help if everyone would just settle on one name.) Of those six issues, the research data from four of them paint a rather strong picture about the current status of Industry 4.0 in manufacturing.

New research from Frost & Sullivan and NTT Data Services reveals just where manufacturing enterprises are on the path to full Industry 4.0 implementation.

New research from Frost & Sullivan and NTT Data Services reveals just where manufacturing enterprises are on the path to full Industry 4.0 implementation.

The Factories of the Future issue looks at end-to-end digitalization of manufacturing processes, i.e., IP-enabled factories. The research question was “How extensively has your company IP-enabled and networked its plant-floor equipment today and what do you expect the extent will be in five years’ time? Responses were not a surprise: 32% answered “Partially” for today and 46% said they are just getting started. Only 9% answered “Extensively” for today. The five-years-from-now answer was a mixed bag: 34% answered “Partially” and 55% answered “Extensively.”

The issue of Transformative Technologies asks for the most important business factor driving a company’s move toward Manufacturing 4.0. The leading factor, by a wide margin, was Operational Efficiency at 32%. The next closest factor, at only 17%, was “Increased competition due to globalization,” followed by “Customer expectations” at 16%.

The Next-Generation Manufacturing Leadership issue is also revealing. The question: What do you think are the three most significant challenges to implementing Manufacturing 4.0 in your company? “Understanding the benefits/challenges” led the way at 37%, followed by “Corporate culture” at 29% and “Lack of buy-in from the C-suite” at 26%. Tied at 25% were “Finding skilled people,” “Change management,” “Developing a Manufacturing 4.0 strategy,” and “Identifying opportunities and ROI.”

That Next-Generation Manufacturing Leadership issue tells me what I’ve suspected: Most people are at the beginner end of the spectrum and need substantial education and help. But there’s also a question of how convinced enterprises are that Industry 4.0 really is the future. In the Changing Workforce Dynamics issue, 42% say that Manufacturing 4.0 is “A game changer, truly a new era.” But 50% feel that it’s “Significant, but not transformative.”

I’ve only hit the highlights of this research report. No matter where you are on the path to full Industry 4.0 implementation, this study is compelling. Download it here. MT


7:40 pm
August 8, 2017
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Field and Control-Panel Communication Platform

1708mtprod13pCommunication-interfacing options provided by SIRIUS ACT with PROFINET enable simplified combinations of push buttons and signaling devices, HMI touchscreens, and industrial PCs. Complex input stations can reportedly be set up without extensive wiring and engineering. Integration into the manufacturer’s TIA Portal leads to better harmonization with the hardware, thus speeding configuration. An option-handling feature enables flexible design and individual adaptation of systems, even during ongoing operation.
Digital Factory
Norcross, GA


7:39 pm
August 7, 2017
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24/7 Bearing Monitoring

4Cast is a smart alert system that records data and sounds continuously, issues alarms, and sends data and sound samples to DMS software for analysis and reporting. Data and sound samples can be reviewed and analyzed to determine the condition of a bearing just before, during, and after a change in alarm status. Permanently installed transducers continuously monitor bearing condition 24/7. All data is stored locally. Should a change in condition occur and a pre-established alarm level is entered, the system, using the user’s Ethernet will issue an alarm notification, and enter data and sound samples into a UE DMS data-management system until the alarm condition has been reversed.
UE Systems Inc.
Elmsford, NY


7:33 pm
August 5, 2017
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Shaft-Mount Gearboxes

1708mtprod07pIronHorse shaft-mount gearboxes (speed reducers) are made from high-grade steel, case hardened, and precision ground to AGMA standards. The shafts have reinforced double-lip seals to protect against contamination and prevent oil from escaping. Premium ball and tapered roller bearings provide smooth operation and lower noise. Extended gear centers ensure tooth contact and consistent operation. The gearboxes are available in 9:1, 15:1, and 25:1 gear ratios and frame sizes from 2 to 5.
Cumming, GA


7:30 pm
August 4, 2017
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Turbomachinery Couplings

WE7454 phaseOne.qxp:Layout 1Turboflex Plus couplings combine Turboflex and Ameridisc disc coupling technologies with Ameriflex diaphragm coupling to create a coupling for sensitive high-speed turbocompressors as well as low-speed load applications. The couplings are API-671/ISO10441 compliant for critical oil and gas, energy, and petrochemical applications. Three coupling types are available for marine applications, and reduced-moment high speed and critical high-speed compressors used in refining and petrochemical processing.
Ameridrives Couplings
Erie, PA


7:38 pm
August 3, 2017
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Explosion-Proof Flow Monitor

1708mtprod09pThe Blancett B3100 series flow monitor is a flexible, reportedly easy-to-use digital signall-processing platform for flow-metering applications. Data logging and remote data access and programming are available without opening the enclosure. The monitor processes a frequency output from a flow meter and interprets the signal to calculate flow rate and total flow simultaneously with 16-point linearization of the flow curve (with interpolation) for improved accuracy. The unit features simplified K-factor and engineering unit configuration for volumetric or mass readings. The unit is explosion-proof for harsh surroundings in accordance with ATEX, IECEx, FM, and CSA c-us.
Badger Meter


7:30 pm
August 3, 2017
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Adjustable Red-and-Green-Zone Dial Gauges

1708mtprod01pGauges with adjustable red-and-green-zone dial faces standardize the visual cues for compressed-air systems and offer maximum visibility of red-zone pressure or vacuum conditions. Red indicator bands on the high and low end of the green zone are said to be easily adjusted to delineate the upper and lower boundaries of safe operation for each pressure or vacuum system to which the gauge is applied. The visually impactful red band, covering the entire out-of-specification zone on the dial face, makes deviations from acceptable conditions easy to see. This type of simple-to-understand monitoring/warning system aids all personnel. Gauges feature dual displays: Psi/bar for pressure, bar/InHg for vacuum. Various pressure-range gauges are available with the maximum pressure at 150 psi/10 bar.
Festo Corp.
Hauppauge, NY


3:47 pm
July 12, 2017
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Reliability’s Bottom-Line Connection

1015gparrBy Gary L. Parr, Editorial Director

A couple of months ago, while at a trade show, I received a white paper titled “How Reliability Impacts Shareholder Value,” authored by Bruce Hawkins, CMRP of Emerson. The title piqued my interest, so I flagged it for later reading—and later I actually read it.

The piece addresses one of the biggest challenges faced by anyone who is trying to establish and sustain a reliability program: How to demonstrate to management that establishing and sustaining a reliability culture puts money on the bottom line. The seven-page document contains segments that address revenue growth, cost effectiveness, asset efficiency, market expectations, and measuring shareholder value. It also has several charts that are ideal for presntations. Below are some of the statements that I coated with highlighter ink. You can download and read the entire piece here.

Reliability enables premium pricing: “Stable production processes within statistical control inherently produce consistent quality products. Unreliable equipment that frequently fails introduces “special cause” variation into the process that leads to quality problems. If these special causes can be eliminated, it enables the organization to research and address the sources of common-cause variation, leading to quality improvement. Consistently higher quality products than the competition enables the organization to command premium prices, or at least to maintain pricing in the face of a market downturn.”

Reliability drives down minimum unit cost: “A reliable manufacturing process helps ensure that the products can be produced at a minimum unit cost. In most commodity businesses, the low cost producer wins—it is in the best position to ride through a potential market downturn while remaining profitable and providing an acceptable return on assets. A good reliability program can have a significant impact on Costs of Goods Sold (COGS) through efficient resource utilization and the ability to eliminate unnecessary work.”

Reliability maximizes asset efficiency: “A reliability program assists with asset efficiency by helping to maximize output with a minimum of investment. As we increase reliability we would be able to increase asset utilization without investing in additional capacity (more capital assets). Also, if we clearly understand the operating condition of the equipment (its “health,” so to speak), we have less uncertainty and therefore less of a need to have redundant spare equipment. Additionally, if the equipment is appropriately cared for, its useful life is extended and there is less need for replacement capital (this also has the effect of reducing costs due to a reduction in depreciation expense). The business has the option to deploy that capital on items that will increase productivity or reduce operating costs.”

Reliability cuts turnaround costs: “One major expense in some industries is the scheduled turnaround (also referred to as shutdowns or outages in some industries). A good reliability program helps to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the turnaround by ensuring that the scope of the turnaround is known (the predictive-maintenance program provides information on asset health and there are fewer “surprises” when equipment is opened). Advanced notice of issues and effective planning of the corrective actions can help minimize turnaround duration.”

Reliability enhances knowledge of assets: “Organizations with reliable assets inherently have better knowledge and information about those assets; it is a byproduct of understanding how the equipment is supposed to operate and how it can potentially fail. They understand both the capacity constraints of the equipment and the potential consequences of exceeding those constraints. They also, through effective condition monitoring, understand the operating condition and the general asset health at any point in time so mitigating actions can be taken with minimal disruption to the operation.”

Reliability delivers more than planned: “Organizations that embrace asset reliability and focus on implementing the tools, techniques, and technologies necessary to enhance and sustain it nearly always find that the returns are much greater than anticipated. When reliability becomes an integral part of an organization’s culture, the discipline and rigor necessary to launch and sustain it tend to permeate throughout the organization and drive benefits in all facets of the operation. It is doubtful that an organization can embark on any other initiative that can have such a far-reaching impact on the entire business.” MT