The era of digital enterprise, known as Industry 4.0, is upon the quarrying industry.
Companies have invested in wireless technology and sensors because of the emergence of cloud-based technology, including sensors, instruments and autonomous devices, known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The interest in wireless technology comes as companies seek improvement in product margins and gain an edge in productivity.
Quarry spoke to VEGA’s product manager, Philipp Ketterer, about IIoT, Industry 4.0 and how quarries can set themselves up for success with VEGA’s new backup and restore feature.
Wireless is now the standard
Ketterer has seen the industry shift from not understanding data to tentatively embracing it to wanting to explore the full potential of data to shape operations and decisions.
He said digital communications is the key for companies to embrace the digital era of wireless technology.
“For Industry 4.0, there has to be fast, continuous data communication,” he said.
“The same arguments for Bluetooth in industry apply to the private use of wireless: It saves an enormous amount of wiring and time, and ultimately, costs.”
The wireless age has branched into mobile phones and apps, an increasingly important part of the quarry worker’s toolbox.
According to the company’s internal data, almost 40 per cent of all VEGA level, point level and pressure sensors are parameterised, read out and serviced via Bluetooth and the VEGA Tools app.
The VEGA Tools app also allows VEGA sensors to be directly controlled and adjusted via smartphone or tablet.
The new wireless tools, which can be used from a safe distance of up to 50m, make adjusting sensors in hazardous zones or hard-to-reach measuring points considerably easier.
Machine operation via the app is increasingly gaining acceptance due to the convenience and speed it offers quarries required by IIoT.
No limits on security
While the acceptance of apps and cloud-based systems benefits machine operation, it has also given rise to managing the intel of these systems safely.
Data security and storage has become a critical concern across the industry as its reliance on cloud-based technology grows.
Ketterer said previously when a level or pressure sensor was taken out of service and replaced, it took necessary sensor settings and data out, too.
However, a new VEGA Tools app feature saves everything that matters, meaning settings and measured values are preserved.
Ketterer said universally accessible process data is one of the most critical prerequisites for reliable, cost-effective production.
“Sensors monitor the status and quality of the individual production steps and store important information on settings, diagnostics and the status of machines and systems,” he said.
“In turn, the users of these sensors need the certainty that they always have access to all sensor parameters and that backup solutions are available if a worst-case scenario occurs.”
Ketterer said mitigating these concerns was crucial to VEGA.
“Because of this, we offer a unique free service that brings significantly more efficiency to automated processes,” he said.
“Our customers can access all the data ever collected because the number of backups is not limited.”
Ketterer said VEGA’s innovative cloud solution with the backup and restore tool provides the best possible support for VEGA clients free of charge.
This is provided by the instrument DTMs and the VEGA Tools app, which quarries can conveniently access.
The backup and restore features enable users to access and reinstall available backup data.
Flexible backups and quick restores are essential for ensuring valuable process data are available for immediate reinstatement of device settings, diagnostics, or process analysis.
Ketterer said VEGA’s software tools were ideal for quarries looking to secure the complex, ever-growing data flow permanently.
With the backup and restore software tool, VEGA has solved the problem many companies have, namely, keeping enough storage space available for ever larger quantities of data. All parameters can be saved securely in the VEGA cloud at regular intervals.
By using trusted software tools to handle data storage and safety, quarries will be well-placed to thrive in Industry 4.0. •
For more information, visit vega.com/en-au