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Machine Analytics Get Back On Board

Product manufacturers across industries are increasingly aware of the potential presented by machine analytics solutions to inform meaningful decision-making. The capacity to harness data to identify process variables that can improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and create important track records for different product SKUs is within their sights. However, as IT and OT continue to converge in packaging, many professionals may still be intimidated and confused by the swift evolution.

 To help them better understand their options and leverage new capabilities, we spoke with Daymon Thompson, automation product manager, North America at Beckhoff Automation. At PACK EXPO International (Oct. 14-17; McCormick Place, Chicago), Thompson will deliver a presentation titled -Onboard Machine Analytics Yield Actionable Data Insights in the Packaging Industry- on Tuesday, Oct.16 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. at the North Hall Innovation Stage (Booth N-4560). The presentation will cover the “how-to’s” and best practices for Internet of Things (IoT) technology implementation in smart factory and Industry 4.0 contexts.

 1.              What should manufacturers know as they try to navigate through the options for machine analytics?

The advent of IoT and now Industry 4.0 has prompted another new wave of robust tools to improve the efficiency of packaging. While the idea of processing data in the cloud has become fairly standard, we now have the computing power to do just that within the equipment itself. Compared to the technology of a few years ago, analytics -on the machine”or -at the edge”are much more possible and simple to attain with today’s solutions. While cloud-based services offer robust data analytics capabilities without large software packages, we can now localize those tools.

2.              What advantages does this approach offer to brands and manufacturers?

There are several advantages to this approach. The first is the possibility of faster reaction times. If sensors pick up an anomaly in vibration, operators do not have to wait for the recorded observation to reach the cloud in order to make a possible change. It also means that the machine itself could react faster to an issue or opportunity, sending an immediate notification to a Human Machine Interface (HMI) “without relying on the connectivity to the Internet” and back before an alteration is made. Of course, this advantage does not have to illuminate other functions; notifications can still be sent within the enterprise via a network, apps and messaging platform.
The key objective is to maximize machine uptime. While mechanical technology will update at its own pace, no equipment is making the brand or manufacturer money if it isn’t running. By sensing the possibility of an error or issue and localizing data analytics, operators can mitigate unplanned downtime. Condition monitoring is another way of doing this. In most instances, equipment maintenance is on a timer. However, a machine may not require such frequent maintenance. By installing machine analytics capabilities, operators can be signaled only when maintenance is required, avoiding the extra, unnecessary protocols and cutting downtime.

Importantly, these new capabilities aren’t limited to preventing issues and managing maintenance; they also invite opportunity. In one application, a customer started monitoring the daily output by number. In doing this, an operator realized an anomaly between shifts that maximized productivity and became a best practice for work instruction.

 3. In what industries can manufacturers benefit the most from robust and localized machine analytics?

 From automated prescription filling in the pharmaceutical industry to the manufacture and packaging of food, beauty and other products, machine analytics can now empower operators from even the smallest piece of equipment. All manufacturers are always looking for ways to optimize the process; all production managers are always looking for ways to reduce maintenance costs. These are challenges they address every day around discussions of Overall Equipment Excellence (OEE) and predictive maintenance. No matter what industry you’re in, you don’t know what you don’t know. The next generation of machine analytics solutions is out to change that.

 The Innovation Stage offers free, 30-minute seminars presented by PACK EXPO International exhibitors covering technological breakthroughs. PACK EXPO International and co-located Healthcare Packaging EXPO will serve as North America’s largest packaging event in 2018, bringing together 50,000 attendees and 2,500 exhibitors. To learn more about the event and register, visit

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