DIGI – From Plant to Business Level Project

Digitalization is currently one of the main processes that allow companies to make significant progress towards innovation and efficiency.

A successful case is a project developed for GL Locatelli, a company from Turate (CO) specialized in the production of anchoring and fixing systems for the building sector. The application concerns the collection, processing, aggregation and archiving of data from a production machine (forming press) and the integration with the company’s management software.

Referring to the classic automation architecture (Fig. 3), the objective was the implementation of a digital and vertical connection between information coming from the production department (Plant-Level) up to the administrative and managerial part of the company (Business Applications), through a modernization process that followed the Industry 4.0 paradigms.

Classical Automation Architecture
Fig. 1 – Classical automation architecture

Fig. 2 shows the implementation of the system developed by Synesis: the integration of innovative technologies (such as the gateway operator panel and the dedicated application implemented on the dedicated server) comes from the classic automation architecture evolving towards transversal and fully connected schemes introduced by Industry 4.0.

Fig. 2 – Digitization system integrated by Synesis

From the scheme, it is possible to find the fundamental elements of the solution:

  • Machine PLC, where there are the raw process data.
  • Operator panel, dedicated to interfacing with the operator, collecting raw data from the PLC, first processing, aggregation and integration with the company’s IT part; this device act as the gateway for the OT / IT interfacing and integration.
  • Data collection server, where there is an application developed with Python and MySql, dedicated to archiving, further processing and aggregation of data and sending formatted appropriately information to the management software at the Business Application level.

Thanks to this solution, the company administration got a new digital tool available for viewing and managing production data, fully integrated with the original information system.

The application permitted to achieve different benefits.

  • Immediate and remote access to information, within the corporate network.
  • Real-time progress tracking for orders and production machines status.
  • Data archiving for further applications, analyses and studies.
  • Scalability of the solution to the whole production plant.

Through these innovative aspects, it is therefore possible to reach new levels of efficiency within business processes. In particular through the opportunity to monitor and quantitatively evaluate production KPIs (both in terms of performance and in terms of preventive maintenance of the machines), it is possible to achieve better perception and immediacy in understanding the progress of the plant activities and implementing any corrective actions.

Keywords: innovation, efficiency, digitalization, integration, Industry 4.0