The manufacturing industry is faced with the challenge of maintaining and optimizing existing machines and plants at an ever-increasing cost. A retrofit enables a modern upgrade of plants and machines with regard to stabilization and increase of the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and the integration of plants into digitalization concepts. EDAG Production Solutions (PS) provides all the fields of expertise needed to set up comprehensive retrofit planning and implementation under one roof.
Industry 4.0 and digital transformation are rapidly gaining ground. So what really counts when it comes to the basic function and its expansion in an existing plant? A new control system? Additional sensors and actuators? Often, existing plants lack basic functionalities that are necessary for networked production. For example, the acquisition and networking of important machine parameters or the acquisition, processing and management of relevant process data.
Generally, plant operators are faced with the decision: Should new machines be purchased that have all the necessary requirements and are equipped for the future? Can new machines be integrated into a higher-level networking concept? Or should a retrofit of existing equipment be considered in terms of investment strategy and technical dependencies? Concrete goals and measures result from this consideration.
EDAG PS knows the challenges of customers who are faced with this kind of strategic decision - from successfully implemented projects. Proven and solid plants can be modernized and digitalized with the following goals:
- Maintaining the operating license of machines and plants
- Improving productivity and increasing OEE
- IT/OT security with simultaneous expansion of the connectivity of machines and plants
- Modernization of safety technology in accordance with current legal guidelines
- Increase of energy efficiency of the plant
- Update capability of software components and provision of spare parts
- Updating and digitalization of machine documentation
- Reduction of investment costs and reduction of training expenses
- Retrofit planning with the "zero downtime" approach
- Significant reduction of the CO2 footprint by extending the use of existing equipment
At the beginning of a modernization project, the first step is a targeted evaluation phase to explore different options.
Maintaining production stability and scalability
Compared to the integration of new machines and plant components, experience shows that retrofit measures can be implemented with significantly fewer production interruptions or even with zero downtime. Another stabilizing factor is that plant operators continue to work with familiar machines and only have to adjust to process changes.
Exhausting the service life of the mechanics
For more and more companies, the issue of sustainability plays an important role, so that the continued use of the "hardware" - in other words, the mechanical part of the machine - is preferred. To extend the service life, exposed mechanical components are replaced in the retrofit. E.g. because they are discontinued or can only be procured as spare parts with a high expenditure of time and/or money. Mechanical adjustments may also be necessary to increase the output compared to the original condition of a plant.
The main goal of retrofitting a machine or plant is to increase its effectiveness and availability. This in turn requires access to measurable indicators or machine parameters of plant operation from the modernized control system, for example, in order to evaluate Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) based on objective criteria. The process parameters represent the manufacturing or production process and show potential for improvement and deficiencies. This type of data model is incorporated into the digital twin of a plant or a process sequence. One example of the application of this data analysis is predictive maintenance. This allows downtimes to be optimized because maintenance is not carried out according to fixed intervals of operating hours, but on the basis of the actual condition of the plant. By detecting anomalies in the machine data, much longer service intervals can be achieved - while at the same time reducing unplanned downtime.
With a high degree of networking of the systems and plants, the prerequisites are also laid for digital production control, which enables efficient processes in production control and simulation. For example, when required production-relevant data is provided automatically and no longer has to be managed manually. This in turn leads to a significant improvement in the processes of plant operation.
The integration of process data from the plant to a production-accompanying quality management with automatic processes and emergency measures in case of falling short of quality criteria, becomes possible across plants.
The creation of up-to-date, digitized plant plans, such as electrical circuit diagrams, is also an important focus area. In some cases, no or not updated circuit diagrams are available, making it difficult for maintenance to react in a targeted manner in the event of machine failures.
With increased networking - from sensor technology to vertical IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) structures - new risks also arise, which must be considered as part of the digital retrofit. In addition to traditional information technology (IT), operational technology (OT) - i.e., operating technologies and machines in the manufacturing industry - is increasingly being targeted.
By analyzing vulnerabilities and threat scenarios, individual OT security concepts can be created and implemented - from segmenting networks to ensuring the production capability of encapsulated production units in the event of a cyber attack.
The EDAG Production Solutions team makes it possible for you to comply with the German Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (Betriebssicherheitsverordnung) and the Machinery Safety Directive 2006 and facilitates the necessary safety inspections, which are required for any necessary renewal of CE conformity.
Know-how & handling competence
The retrofit of an industrial plant combines the mechanical and digital retrofit with the goal to support you to reach your production goals and to be able to guarantee directed stable production factors in the future. With an increasing degree of automation and autonomy of your production processes.
This wide range of tasks requires comprehensive competence. EDAG Production Solutions combines all the necessary disciplines: mechanical, electrotechnical and digital engineering as well as consulting on operational safety, occupational health and safety and CE conformity. With a team of computer scientists, mechanical, electrical and safety engineers, EDAG-PS is able to plan and implement retrofit projects together with the customer from start to finish.
No relevant subject areas are left out - EDAG PS offers everything from a single source. In order to be able to offer customers comprehensive support, we work according to transparent process models, always in the best possible synchronization with our customers' expert teams - with the goal: to ensure your success!
If you have questions about the possibilities of a Digital Retrofit, talk to Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Christoph Schultheis, Head of Automation at EDAG Production Solutions. Or download the "Procedure Model Retrofit" right here.