Capturing, transmitting and processing data lies at the heart of what has been dubbed 'the fourth industrial revolution'. It’s one of the reasons why cutting-edge connectivity has become so important in factories and similar environments to facilitate new, smarter ways of working, such as predictive maintenance. Connectivity is a feature of Rittal’s new cooling units and chillers and its recent collaboration with Siemens MindSphere and IBM Watson IoT provides insight into the capabilities and opportunities which exist, now and in the future for a world enabled by Industry 4.0.
Rittal claims that its new Blue e+ cooling units and chillers consume an average of 70% less power than their conventional counterparts. They also raise the bar in M2M communication.
Specifically, they can transmit key data to a smartphone quickly and simply via a NFC (near field communication) connection. The RiDiag III parameterisation and diagnostics software uses a USB interface or a network to support efficient system operation, deliver rapid support for maintenance and repairs, and deliver in-depth diagnostics.
The new communications module (Com Modul) also allows the cooling units and chillers to communicate with any higher-level system via OPC UA, PROFINET, SNMP, Modbus RTU and CAN Master – enabling predictive maintenance, data analytics and more.
Rittal’s coolers and chillers interact seamlessly with Siemens MindSphere. This cloud-based, open Internet of Things (IoT) operating system enables customers to develop their own Industry 4.0 applications. The platform is scalable, and can capture and analyse huge volumes of data – paving the way for smart-factory processes in areas such as energy data management and resource optimisation to name but two.
In addition, it harnesses analytics to predict when repairs and maintenance are required. This cuts costs and raises system uptime compared to scheduled works conducted at predefined intervals.
The system even calculates the fastest way to complete these tasks, which can be particularly advantageous at facilities with a large number of machines. Plus, because up-to-the-minute data on each unit is available on the IoT platform, service engineers know what replacement parts they will require for the job in hand, eliminating the need for multiple trips.
IBM Watson IoT
Watson’s architecture is designed to rapidly process information and employs machine learning algorithms to analyse growing data volumes with increasing precision – with the aim of finding better answers to a variety of challenges.
These types of data analytics applications streamline maintenance and cut downtime – in other words, customers benefit from lower costs and higher machine availability. The solution’s new technologies also open up new business opportunities, for example, within the scope of smart maintenance contracts. All this interactivity provides insight into the future world of Industry 4.0, and the new business models these will enable. And all this potential stems from the seamless transmission of data from sensors inside the cooling units and chillers to the cloud.