Sector News

SIG arms all new filling machines with Industry 4.0 connectivity as COVID-19 intensifies flexibility demands

December 20, 2020
Food & Drink

SIG is equipping all new filling machines with industry-standard OPC Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) connectivity to drive greater flexibility in food and beverage manufacturing.

Built-in OPC-UA connectivity enables horizontal machine-to-machine and vertical communication within the entire production plant.

Flexibility in manufacturing operations is becoming increasingly critical. With growing industry demands, rapidly changing consumer trends, and ongoing COVID-19 challenges, manufacturers are working to make their production lines more individualized and agile to handle periods of higher outputs and faster product changes while also driving down costs.

Many manufacturers are looking to IoT-enabled systems, data and automation solutions to turn their filling plants into intelligent and connected factories.

OPC-UA is the data exchange standard for secure, reliable and platform-independent industrial communications, helping drive smart, connected and fully integrated systems.

“The customer has easy real-time access to all related performance data of the filling line via OPC-UA,” Stefan Mergel, senior product manager equipment at SIG, tells PackagingInsights.

Performance analysis includes energy monitoring tools, enabling manufacturers to detect deviations within energy consumption in real-time and plan countermeasures.

“OPC-UA connectivity is supporting our fillers’ seamless integration within the digital plant – a real paperless operated plant – increasing productivity, saving a lot of paper and supporting environmental footprint,” adds Mergel.

Plug-and-play installation
In addition to built-in OPC-UA, all existing SIG filling machines can also now be retrofitted with a simple plug-and-play installation, providing OPC-UA connectivity. The connectivity is delivered through the Connector Module of SIG’s Plant 360 Controller solution.

This advanced monitoring and control solution is designed to optimize every part of food and beverage production by gradually integrating all plant processes and systems into one platform, no matter what equipment, supplier or PLC is used.

“All our new filling machines, as well as automatic magazines and downstream solutions, are using industry-standard OPC Unified Architecture, meaning connectivity is simply built-in from the start,” continues Mergel.

“For several customers in Europe, MEA and the Americas, we connected our filling lines ‘plug and play’ to their MES or LMS system with no major effort.”

Manufacturing flexibility
Built-in or retrofitted OPC-UA connected SIG systems maximize food and beverage manufacturers’ freedom and flexibility when choosing other manufacturing components and technology partners.

SIG customers can configure a digital factory based precisely on their needs and demands.

“Food and beverage production is rapidly changing and becoming more demanding than ever. Filling plants are operating on an unprecedented level with higher demands, growing competition, and ever-shorter production cycles – even more so due to COVID-19,” notes Mergel.

“Now is the time for companies to step up their digital transformation and ensure they can be more resilient, productive and agile in their future operations.”

Secure connectivity
Enabling OPC-UA connectivity within its filling machines, systems and components is another aspect of SIG’s solution-driven Smart Factory platform. The platform delivers IoT-enabled systems and technical services, transforming filling plants into connected factories and securing higher efficiency, flexibility and quality for customers.

“For food and beverage IoT, a stable and secure connectivity is key,” highlights Mergel.

“SIG is following current valid IT security standards and steering connectivity of its filling machines to customer’s or our own applications.”

“An easy integration is mandatory to have an open system and follow industry standards, as with OPC-UA.”

The aseptic packaging systems and solutions provider recently committed to sourcing 100 percent of its paperboard packaging from Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood by 2021.

Earlier this year, Ace Fung, marketing manager for sustainability at SIG, discussed the environmental benefits of beverage cartons linked to plant-based materials or recycled post-consumer plastic waste with PackagingInsights.

By Joshua Poole

Source: packaginginsights.com

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