Autonomous manufacturing & supply chain
The cyber-physical automation pyramid
by Andreas Prusak, Senior Product Manager
Panasonic is one of the few suppliers offering the complete portfolio of the cyber-physical automation pyramid. It ranges from sensors in the field to AI-driven decisions on the ERP level - but also everything vertically and horizontally from goods inbound solutions over any kind of manufacturing such as SMT, THT, and Final Assembly in electronics manufacturing to efficient intralogistics workflow optimization & traceability to outbound solutions.
Edge devices are used for very dedicated works and processes. Edge Aware Supply Chains feed from real time data at the point of activity to automate actions. The Edge (aka point of activity) is where supply chains create or lose value. Examples could be a shelf in a store or a frozen container in the middle of the ocean. Edge awareness has been traditionally left to human senses, constraining its capacity. Together with Blue Yonder, we are aiming to achieve the autonomous Supply Chain through the combination of Blue Yonder’s software platform and Panasonic Connect’s edge devices and IoT technologies.
Panasonic’s parcel tracking and projection solution Visual Sort Assist (VSA) uses 3D Sensors, generating parcel information all the way. This needs quite a reasonable amount of computing power. Looking at small edge devices like Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL), or Industrial IoT Labels, the aim is to avoid any unnecessary CPU use to save power, so the system battery will last longer. This is an interesting trend in the industry to really power down and send devices to sleep to save power and really work on reducing local power consumption. The real data processing is then put into a scalable Cloud, operating where we have enough resources. Blue Yonder’s Edge Aware Supply Chain Platform converts that data into business information to accelerate decisions.
Smart Factory in a Cyber Physical System
Panasonic’s new 5M conceptual tools will enable customers to drive digital transformation to shape up their production environments for the future. The orchestration of the influences in the production environment by huMans, materials, methods, measurements, and machines (5M) enable efficient digital transformation. Whether this will ultimately be autonomously acting machines, or intelligent systems assisting in decision making is still to be decided.
The first physical production process layer, for example material storage shelfs or the machine line itself, is directly in touch with automation and control systems of the control layer such as the Panasonic Intelligent Line Network Box (iLNB). This manages the workflow, checks work order verification and gathers all traceability data into one place. Another example is Adaptive Process Control (APC-5M), which manages M2M communication in terms of production line feed-forward and feed-back communication technology.
At the next level of factory floor visibility and supervisory, the PanaCIM Advanced module of Material Control is the glue that makes efficient and automated manufacturing work. It understands how many of each component are available, where they are located and can allocate and plan the delivery Just in Time and Just in Sequence – all about reducing downtime and increasing productivity.
Within the planning layer, the Manufacturing Operations Optimiser (MFO) creates a digital twin of the production and calculates the required resources. To have minimum stock at production lines we reserve the materials based on workorder and can deliver the material not only Just in time to the line but also Just in sequence to the production lines to have minimum changeover time.
Predictive Maintenance within the Factory
Within the Physical Layer in manufacturing, the entire production process and machines are monitored through enhanced closed loop communication technology, called APC-5M. It detects 5M variations as well as line changes in real-time and ensures a smooth production process without downtime. Thanks to AI, the control system improves and specifies detections and feedback after each production process.
In terms of Industry 4.0, more accurate and meaningful predictions can be made. Big Data automates data collection and analysis, facilitating a better understanding of the status of each system in the production. Based on a customers’ needs and environment, we can support with Real Time Data Processing providing data to a customers’ inhouse data processing tools or offer our Panasonic data analysis and processing tools. Data collected in the physical layer is processed, analyzed and interpreted in the cyber layer.
Regarding the Cyber Layer in manufacturing: Besides good planning and material management, it is essential to understand the status of all the production equipment. With our cloud-based Asset Management we can monitor not only Panasonic equipment but literally every device in the production plant. With Asset Management our customers get the recent condition of the equipment based on the real usage and don´t have to rely on fixed maintenance cycles. Therefore, we can enable very efficient predictive maintenance and perform maintenance before an actual stoppage of production could occur.
To implement predictive maintenance, just in time and just in sequence, we need Real Time Connectivity, master data and an organizational structure. Thanks to real time connectivity to the production, material tracking is possible. Smart Material Management including pick by light and robotic or automated guided vehicle solutions support the automated process. It gives an overview and the possibility to track available materials and their exact location. Master Data includes a production plan with a dedicated number of demanded materials, objectives, machine status and mix as well as desired outcomes. When it comes to organization, it includes operators, discipline, accuracy, knowledge, and know-how as well as logistical structures to implement predictive maintenance.
Panasonic’ Manufacturing solutions consist of either automating tasks such as troubleshooting / automating material flow or AI driven decision making. Providing solutions in the control and supervision layer such as e.g., iLNB or ensuring common standard interfaces can communicate with third party interfaces, or collecting and processing data that are then implemented in the cyber-AI layer.
By combining the 5M Management (5MM) with the 5M Process Control (5MPC) in production, we set the foundation for the autonomous factory. 5MM reduces the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by managing 5M efficiently with minimal investment and maximising the resource efficiency. Thanks to 5MPC, we have an autonomous control of production conditions and can maximise the output as well as the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) to ensure the achievement of the production plan. The main pain points such as production down time or limited available labour force are reduced.
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