The future starts now!

smart4sugar: data analysis for better decision-making

Information is a valuable resource. To stay well ahead of the competition, data have to be available and analysed promptly. How can that be done? With the smart4sugar solution from BMA.

In business, research and in our personal lives, everything centres around data these days. More and more companies believe that data can add value and form the basis for business models in this age of the Internet of Things (IoT) and digitalisation.

Most of the necessary technical infrastructure has already been developed, so many places have been eagerly collecting data for some years now. Retailers collect customer data and information on shopping habits; their objective is to meet customer expectations even better and, of course, increase sales by offering the right products. In real time.

Measurement stations around the globe collect terabytes of meteorological and traffic data. And there are apps for viewing weather forecasts and for avoiding traffic queues. In all cases, the principle “better more than not enough” applies. Because, when they are collected, it is not always clear what potential future use specific data sets will have.

Big data in manufacturing companies

Businesses also create mountains of data, in production, for instance. On the Internet of Things, smart machines continuously communicate with each other, exchanging a range of information. Which is certainly worth collecting.

By now, digitalisation has arrived in some parts of the sugar industry. In state-of-the-art cane and beet sugar factories and refineries, machinery and equipment data are available almost instantly, permitting more rapid intervention and adjustments in the machinery or manufacturing network. Remote access to key manufacturing data from the central control system is also possible.

But the use of big data is far from common in the around 2,800 sugar factories around the globe. A more efficient and smarter analysis of the manufacturing system in the cloud adds a new dimension – one that local control systems can no longer offer. Cloud analysis is simple, efficient, and can process large volumes of data. Because “big data” refers to precisely that: the huge collections of data found today. Whose potential use lies especially in networked analysis.

What exactly do you know about your centrifugals?

Probably less than you could! New data analysis opportunities now promise the delivery of valuable additional information about, say, the suboptimal operating state of your centrifugals: the number of batches may be too small, the filling level too low, massecuite quality may gradually be deteriorating, parts may be worn, and many other indicators.

In 2017, BMA first equipped batch centrifugals with data collection and transfer technology: via a fieldbus interface, a router collects operating data from the centrifugal control and assigns them a timestamp. The data are encrypted and sent to the stable, redundant Microsoft Azure IT architecture via a wireless connection or the customer’s Ethernet. Here they are used in continuous calculations and reviews, giving you a close-up experience of big data.

smart.monitoring

Starting January 2019, all BMA-built batch centrifugals have an integrated interface to the BMA Cloud as standard. This makes it possible to track major operating data as key performance indicators (KPI) or trends – at any time and from any place on earth that has a reliable internet connection.

The feature also includes remote access to BMA’s smart4sugar platform. Personal login details provide 24/7/365 access to a preselected range of relevant operating data, presented in a clearly structured and condensed format on a digital dashboard. The web-based dashboard runs on all standard devices such as mobile phones, tablets and computers. We call this service smart.monitoring.

Unexpected opportunities, great expectations, new strategies

Big data offer factory managers unprecedented opportunities. In fact, they permit complete strategy overhauls, creating sustainable benefits for factories. The range of possible applications reported from other sectors of industry is inspiring, to say the least.

With the introduction of Industry 4.0-based solutions, BMA is adding value to products and services as of now! But what we do goes beyond simply equipping our products with IoT interfaces. With our smart4sugar platform, we have created an innovative work environment for the visualisation of plant operating data, permitting monitoring and analysis via a user-friendly dashboard. ­
smart.monitoring is the first in a range of future services.

What advantages will there be for sugar production? We believe you are best qualified to answer this, and look forward to hearing your success stories: productivity gains, cost optimisation, lower energy consumption, fewer downtimes thanks to predictive maintenance, preventing quality losses in the sugar produced through timely repairs of faults – the list could go on and on.

By equipping centrifugals with IoT technology, another successful step towards the smart sugar factory has been made.

Benefits for users of the ­smart4sugar platform from BMA

  • Operating data – available ­anytime, anywhere

  • Greater centrifugal efficiency, for instance, by optimising throughput based on trend analyses running over extended periods of time

  • Improved competitiveness thanks to, for instance, better sugar quality based on KPI ­monitoring

 

Dr Andreas Lehnberger
Silke Stiegert