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New digital technologies improve manufacturing capabilities

Metallurgical plant supplier SMS group has developed digital technology called the X-Pact MES 4.0, along with the Safety Locator Suite system, which both aid in the digital transformation of organisations and help to gain faster insights and more informed management decision-making, with the benefit of improved manufacturing operations.

These solutions help operations become faster, more efficient, and more flexible, while at the same time, reducing yield losses.

As the global manufacturing markets become more challenging, there is an increased demand on manufacturing organisations to improve their operational efficiencies to stay competitive and cost effective.

To achieve these operational efficiencies, plant operations must be able to quickly and efficiently respond to constantly changing demand while meeting operational limits. Digitisation and data management offers the potential to improve control beyond the scope of the digital monitoring and control networks, which will assist in the improvement of operational efficiency.

Digitisation is all about transforming manufacturing operations using the latest technology and it often starts with connecting factory floor equipment.

One of the benefits of using this technology is improved visibility across manufacturing operations, which enables management to make more informed decisions faster, with a real-time picture of operational status.

Another benefit is improved use, which ensures maximum asset performance and uptime with the visibility required for central monitoring and management.

It also leads to reduced waste, by taking faster action to reduce or prevent certain forms of waste and other yield losses, owing to faster, more detailed insight on key production metrics.

A further benefit is targeted cost savings, by having an understanding of the benchmark resource use and being able to identify inefficiencies to support operational improvements.

Moreover, improved quality can be achieved as a result of being able to detect and prevent quality problems by finding and addressing equipment issues sooner.

Too often, highly-qualified human resources’ time is wasted on data processing, rather than value-adding decision-making and implementation.

SMS group offer the solutions to process the data, faster, so that these highly qualified human resources can add value through decision-making and implementation of their decisions, rather than processing data.

X-Pact MES 4.0

The X-Pact MES 4.0 is a manufacturing execution system which makes one’s factory “smart”. It is a complete modular solution for planning and control of the entire metallurgical process chain and all production facilities as part of modernisations, expansions or complete new installations.

This technology has been successfully implemented in smelting and refining units, continuous casting plants, hot rolling mills, cold rolling mills, strip processing lines and in the long products sector.

The X-Pact MES 4.0 system is designed to assist the metals manufacturing industry to customise products with consistent quality; minimise production lead time; ensure punctual delivery of correct material; optimise use of personnel, material and energy; as well as reduce work in progress stock.

To achieve this, the X-Pact MES 4.0 system has functional modules categorised as Planning, Support and Optimization, Supply and Dispatch, as well as Reporting.

Safety Locator Suite

Meanwhile, the Safety Locator Suite system is an innovative technology that SMS Group developed to assist the metals manufacturing and mining sectors in preventing the spread of Covid-19. This digital tool also has further safety and operational efficiency-related advantages.

The Safety Locator Suite operates by tracking the exact location of all personnel through a set of components operating on various technologies. When workers access unauthorised areas or find themselves in dangerous situations – including minimum distance with respect to other workers – the system activates an alarm.

Through the operator interface, it is possible to input any desired operating logics into the system, such as displaying the personnel’s body condition and level of risks to which they are exposed according to their position, their working elevation and other customer-specific information.

The most important information needed to effectively address Covid-19 is the ability to monitor the distance between personnel. Distance is measured with sensors and, in the case of personnel being too close to each other, a message will be sent automatically to the server or health and safety officer.

The Safety Locator Suite system has applications in Logistic Management as the system’s sensor device can also be installed on moving equipment.

The sensor device can also be installed on personal protective equipment to ensure correct use thereof, identify nearby hazards, identification of personnel, location tracking and tracking of vitals.

The sensor device can also be used to measure the temperature of the surroundings as well as the gas content in the air. Moreover, it can also be installed on the entrances of critical operating equipment to control access.

Especially since the onslaught of Covid-19, because of the difficulty or inability to implement some of these preventative measures, many manufacturing organisations will no longer be permitted to operate. This will directly affect their income and, in turn, have a dire effect on the unemployment situation in the country.

The Safety Locator Suite can assist companies avoid this.