Contactless, social distancing, protective equipment: the keywords of the (post-) coronavirus age. That also relates to all the levels of contact between plant and component manufacturers, plant operators and service providers in the powder and bulk solids industries. Grandparents and grandchildren led the way with video chats, the Internet serving as the key to information-sharing and maintaining contact. The crisis is thus also helping to drive forward the much vaunted Internet of Things. Coronavirus made it clear: it is time for the digital transformation to take the final step toward becoming a reality. How that can happen is the theme of POWTECH, taking place as a Special Edition in Nuremberg from 30 September to 1 October this year. The Special Edition, adapted as a consequence of the global Covid-19 pandemic, will focus this year on knowledge sharing, including the digital transformation.
“Until now we have lacked awareness of the need, and of the transformation itself. We’ve been overwhelmed by anxiety about what is facing us. But the monster that has everyone worried about losing control has been amongst us for ages, with buzzwords like IoT, Predictive Maintenance and Big Data,” commented Dr Uwe G. Seebacher (MBA), Global Director Marketing, Communication & Strategy at Andritz AG in Graz (Austria) last year, even before the coronavirus arrived. Gathering measured data, analysis, pattern recognition, remote diagnostics and remote process optimization – these fully contactless information flows are already in place. But, as Seebacher warned: “False conclusions are being drawn in many places regarding IoT, Big Data and Predictive Maintenance, in other words, data-sharing beyond the company walls. In this situation, suppliers and customers ultimately lack sufficient determination when making the necessary decisions and investments.”
Because digitalization penetrates every area of a process plant, from development using simulation to digital twins of assets and plant, from field level to ERP, predictive maintenance and process optimization, it offers a whole raft of opportunities for migration and optimization. These information flows are also the key to new levels of contact between process operators and plant or component providers. Contactless information sharing is becoming a competitive advantage for everyone involved. The time is now right to accept the services and information streams available, and to be there for each other with data systems as a means of developing new strengths. The coronavirus is making us reassess the digital transformation completely anew. The tools involved are not new, but simply need to be looked at differently.
New relationship between suppliers and users
“Digital twins” and “cloud solutions” are not the central elements in the digital transformation. These are just tools that have made the path to the Fourth Industrial Revolution possible. What is at the heart of Industry 4.0 is a completely new and challenging relationship between suppliers and buyers. Optimizing this relationship will determine who wins the competition for customers. As in the case of Amazon et al. in the area of consumer goods, the most important elements in the competition for customers are an extremely short response time to buyer enquiries, more customized products and services, and more careful use of resources as an economic variable. Digitalization in all areas of industry provides businesses with more and more effective tools for this competition for market share.
Rich experience with digitalization in sectors mainly involving discrete manufacturing has steadily flowed into the process industries. Despite a tightly woven data network in the form of process control systems, industries based on process engineering have had trouble until now in turning the benefits of digitalization to good use in competition and thus to added value. However, powder and bulk solids processes, in particular, which normally run in batches, are ideally suited to the digital transformation in the process industries.
Manufacturers of process plant and processing components are going a step further in incorporating both process product customization and the plant itself into data structures, and turning the products and services imposed by the digital transformation to good use.
The state of the art, for example, is represented by standalone solutions for process-optimized operation of grinding systems with a focus on performance, throughput, product consistency and availability. For example, to make further use of the expertise of Netzsch Vakumix, a regular participant in POWTECH, plant operators are already able to draw on globally available online monitoring and online support for complete systems. Simulation tools make operator training possible in this way, using a realistic functional copy of the plant and the process. Servicing, preventive maintenance, plant audits, general and simulation training, and migration and process optimization are also offered online.
Improving efficiency with data analysis
Prominent POWTECH exhibitor Hosokawa Alpine also offers a remote service if required, which can be used to analyze process settings and plant operation, and minimize or completely prevent potential breakdowns if the need arises. On an optional basis, the company offers support with process optimization. This gives service specialists the opportunity to access all relevant measurement data online. Remote service involves incorporating a data logger in the machine controller. This enables process data from the plant to be continuously saved and transferred to Hosokawa’s remote service. In this way the plant operator alone is able to determine who has access to the data.
Entirely in line with the challenge represented by Industry 4.0, these service deployments take place extremely quickly and at short notice; they are individually coordinated with the requirements of the operator and the plant; and they go easy on resources, since there is no need for time-consuming travel by a service specialist.
POWTECH 2020 Special Edition: Safe Networking
As the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Powder and Bulk Solids Processing and Analytics, the 2020 Special Edition of POWTECH will offer process industry specialists the best opportunity to talk with plant and component manufacturers about their digital and contactless products and solutions. Following the global impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s edition has a particular focus on knowledge sharing. At the heart of the POWTECH Special Edition are the trade forums, which will be held in two exhibition halls with due observance of all safety regulations. The accompanying exhibition will give all exhibitors the opportunity to present their innovations in an efficient and appealing manner. Predefined stand designs and spacious meeting areas will guarantee the observance of all hygiene and safety regulations. Following the event, parts of the programme will be made available online for participants.
Process technology worldwide
POWTECH World is a global network of trade fairs and conferences related to mechanical processing technology. The events of POWTECH World form the ideal platform for global knowledge-sharing and new, worldwide business connections. Other forthcoming POWTECH World Events:
- IPB China
International Powder & Bulk Solids Processing Conference & Exhibition, 29 to 31 July 2020, Shanghai, China
- POWTECH India
India’s Leading Technology Expo for Processing, Analysis and Handling of Powder & Bulk Solids, 11 to 12 February 2021, Mumbai, India
Partnership beyond business
In these turbulent times with unpredictable developments, NürnbergMesse offers all its customers and trade fair participants as much planning certainty and transparency as possible under the circumstances. Under the hashtag #PartnershipBeyondBusiness, all our communication channels are open for questions and suggestions from exhibitors, visitors and other interested parties. For contact details and updated information on the status of the trade fair please go to: www.powtech.de/partnership