Digital Manufacturing Ireland

Creating a Digital Layer...


Digital Manufacturing Ireland


BONNER Provided

About the Project

Digital Manufacturing Ireland (DMI) is an industry-led national organisation that enables Irish-based manufacturers to access, adopt and accelerate new digital technologies solving real-world challenges and driving future competitiveness.

With significant Government investment, Digital Manufacturing Ireland is responsible for transforming the manufacturing value chain through innovative technology across the integrated pillars of technology, supply chain, operations and skills and culture transformation.

The manufacturing industry is rapidly evolving, and companies are facing new challenges every day and DMI sought a partner to assist them in creating a Digital Layer to enable them to integrate their technologies on the factory floor. One of the biggest challenges is the integration of different technologies from multiple machine manufacturers. These technologies often operate in silos, which makes it difficult to optimise processes, improve quality, and reduce costs.

Our Response

Our core team included our own APROL engineers, our dashboards and HMI interface by our UX/UI engineers, we worked with Syspro for our ERP & MOM solution, ViewAR for Augmented Reality and Qualer for the Maintenance Management system.

The main project delivery and Management was with our partners ABB with support from B&R Automation, who also provided advanced transport systems ACPOS6D. This system is based on the principle of magnetic levitation and the ACPOSTrak

Our project team worked directly with ABB project managers, robot engineers and systems engineers. We also worked with other Irish manufacturing companies including RDS, KAON and Malone Group to bring a world-class team of Irish experts in their respective fields.

In order to successfully complete the project, we designed and implemented an OPC-UA communication protocol to enable cross-platform communication, followed by the development of a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) to control factory modules, robots and transport systems.

We also programmed the MES to integrate with the client’s ERP system, as well as designing an interface between the ERP system and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) system for advanced factory scheduling.

Our team also designed all reports for Trending and Business Intelligence systems, and programmed communication between APROL and the MES to Maintenance Management System through RESTful API. In addition, we installed an Augmented Reality (AR) system for factory walk-throughs, digitised work instructions, and live OEE scores.

In addition to this, we also designed all HMI and interactive dashboards with relevant data and installed energy monitoring equipment to provide in-depth information on energy usage.

Cybersecurity solutions were also implemented to ensure secure remote access and prevent unauthorised code changes, including a Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) and continuous PLC code monitoring.

Finally, we designed a Predictive Maintenance solution in collaboration with B&R Automation, which analysed and predicted possible failure dates and interacted with the maintenance management system to alert users and schedule work orders. Our client was extremely satisfied with the results, and our solutions have helped to increase efficiency, productivity and overall effectiveness of their factory operations.

Overcoming Challenges

Completing a complex project can be a daunting task, and this is especially true when it involves multiple challenges.

One such challenge is integrating with various other PLC manufacturers through the creation of an OPC-UA connection. This requires a deep understanding of different communication protocols and technologies.

Another challenge is adding energy monitoring equipment to legacy equipment that is over 20 years old. This requires a thorough knowledge of legacy equipment and the ability to demonstrate the ability to add smart data to old equipment. Giving access to multiple vendors and partners to provide access to the factory remotely while maintaining security is another challenge. This requires careful planning and implementation of security protocols.

Finally, handing over a paperless operated factory, including all assets being logged in the cloud maintenance software, local QR codes to link to relevant data requires a high level of attention to detail and thorough documentation. Despite these challenges, successfully completing the project can result in significant benefits, including increased efficiency, improved safety, and reduced costs.

The Results

At the highest level, we delivered a world-class manufacturing ERP system from Syspro that managed all customer & supplier data, product & inventory data, sales ordering to purchasing, from here we communicated directly to the MES layer using open communication protocols such OPC-UA.

The SCADA/MES layer was delivered with B&R Automation’s APROL system, which received order information from the ERP, directed and controlled the complete factory floor, collected all data for advanced reporting and storage, created MTQQ connections to the cloud, connected with Business Intelligence system for advanced reporting and analytics plus acted as the liaison between multiple other systems including Maintenance  Management System plus ViewAR’s augmented reality system for manufacturing.

The factory now has complete energy monitoring capabilities at a granular level, including all energy usage on modules, factory and building plus data connection to the Building Management System (BMS) for further details on the buildings energy consumption. A professional Weather station was also provided to give real-time information on local weather conditions.

This project was completed over  a period of 16 months and was officially opened by Minister for Enterprise,  Simon Coveney on 27th March 2023.

Enhancing Ireland’s manufacturing capability is a strategic national priority and a core component of the transformation agenda within IDA Ireland’s Strategy – Driving Recovery & Sustainable Growth 2021-2024. Engaging with industry, we recognise the challenges facing companies as they balance the need to drive competitiveness with the disruption and opportunities around new technologies. DMI will ensure that Irish based manufacturers have access to the infrastructure, technology and skills to help them solve real issues and to kickstart and continue to drive their digital transformation journeys.

Mary Buckley

Interim CEO, IDA Ireland

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