From lighting to data is just a small step

It is becoming increasingly evident that integrated data-driven control offers major benefits in terms of efficiency, safety and environmental protection. However, achieving an effective system is still no mean feat, especially one that all plants can have confidence in. With the Smart Manufacturing Infrastructure (SMI) project, a number of knowledge partners have pooled their expertise in order to make the switch to a data-driven control environment at Chemelot.

The SMI project is made up of two parts: the physical implementation of smart lighting at the Chemelot site, followed by connection of sensors to some of the smart lighting installed. The ‘smart’ LED bulbs feature access points that enable them to receive sensor data. The addition of sensors and an industrial ICT environment mean the step from smart lighting to data-driven control will be quicker to make than first thought.

Smart lighting
The first step, namely the implementation of smart lighting on the Chemelot site, has already been made. The project involved replacing the existing lighting with 16,000 energy-efficient smart LED bulbs, which have been specially developed for use in an area with high explosion risk. Project Manager Ron van Dijk (Sitech Services) explains: “All of the bulbs together will soon be combined to form a wireless network that will communicate with the central server. This will enable us to control the lighting remotely. In the next stage, we will connect a 2.0 version of the bulbs to advanced sensors and software, and this will form the basis for the next efficiency drive: Smart Manufacturing Infrastructure.”

Collaborative sensors offer a solution
The benefit of the new smart bulbs therefore extends further than just the lighting and the associated sustainability and lower energy costs. “In fact, we have already been working on the realization of our predictive maintenance dream for some time,” adds Director Innovation Richard Schouten (Sitech Services). “The problem here is how we obtain enough relevant and reliable data to enable us to have an effective overview of all equipment. Over the last few years in particular, the Sitech Asset Health Center (SAHC) has been actively working to bring about a breakthrough with providers of ATEX-certified sensors. In the meantime, plans had already been put in place to innovate the lighting network on Chemelot. Our partner PSPL identified the opportunity to continue developing the new LED bulbs into a 2.0 version that is suitable for use with advance sensors. System integrator CGI then joined us to help realize the control, integration and secure data processing. What is more, Sitech itself is able to provide a real-world environment on the Chemelot site that allows the functioning of this Smart Manufacturing Infrastructure to be extensively tested.”

The condition of each plant down to the finest detail
“Before we proceed to the second stage, we need a proof of solution first in order to prove that it works,” explains Richard. “We will be testing the 2.0 concept on a small scale in the OMF plant at OCI Nitrogen, and to do this, we will be using the LED bulbs that are suitable for sensors. These sensors are connected and the network is already running in a test environment. The next step is a matter of engineering: can we transmit signals reliably to the outside, is connectivity good, and are we able to unpack the data rapidly without errors? By the spring of 2020, we will have had enough time to make certain that it works as intended, and we will be able to upgrade some of the smart lighting. We will then be in a better position to understand the condition of plants and achieve greater effect with fewer maintenance hours and personnel. Even the autonomous plant is within reach. And even though ‘autonomous’ obviously does not mean unmanned, it will result in higher product quality, better plant stability, and lower energy consumption.”

Many companies lack a smart, industry-grade infrastructure that ensures the safe recording and distribution of data, even though that infrastructure is essential for Industry 4.0. However, the complexity and investment required discourage many organizations from making the switch. Sitech Services, PSPL and CGI are pooling their resources and have succeeded in removing these barriers. Together, they are creating a Smart Manufacturing Infrastructure that will make it possible for them to take the next step towards a data-driven control environment.

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