Company reaps the real-time benefits of IT-OT convergence
20 Nov 2019
Companies understand the need for IT and OT convergence but can be thwarted by their fragmented infrastructure. MM Karton found an elastic way around the difficulties...
The disjoint between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) has created a gap and presented a costly challenge for all areas of process industry and manufacturing.
Historically, sensor data has remained locked in the domain of Process Information System vendors such as ABB, Honeywell and Siemens. With data in highly system-specific formats, integration has been complex, costly and fraught with risk.
The world’s largest producer of coated recycled fibre-based cartonboard, Mayr Melnhof Karton’s processes demand a constant, complex, dynamic balance of organic variables and materials.
Changes in moisture levels and fibre lengths must be precisely offset by the inclusion of highly expensive additives.
Every step of the company’s production process has its own OT system, sensors, and measurement. More than 25,000 sensors capture production process data on everything from pressure and temperature to machine speed and power consumption.
MM Karton has always produced plenty of data – 2TB in fact – but until recently lacked the right tools to extract intelligence from disconnected process control systems and make the data actionable for operators.
This led to a disjointed view and resulted in unnecessary delays for discovering deviations in production batches. As a result, manufacturing processes faced downtime while teams waited for quality test results from the lab.
MM Karton has always produced plenty of data but until recently lacked the right tools to extract intelligence from disconnected systems and make data actionable
Process technologist Stephan Hampe, responsible for optimising manufacturing processes across seven of MM Karton’s plants, had a vision: to connect and visualise cardboard production data and usage of all relevant materials in one dashboard, in real time.
Having used software company Elastic’s Elasticsearch facility at a previous company, Kerner was aware the new generation open source search technology was built to combine different formatted and unformatted data. This permitted the user to create an integrated view for monitoring across different systems.
He proposed to head of operations Jürgen Kerner that Elastic’s Elastic Stack product would provide the perfect means to deliver on the vision.
The insight provided into production processes and usage of materials allowed the company to improve its recipes and lower the amount of expensive ingredients.
When materials can cost upwards of €15,000/ton, a net increase or decrease of 10 tons per year can have a major impact. In less than four months, the company reduced consumption of one expensive material by 20%, while still maintaining the same output. Production speeds also improved without sacrificing quality.
Reusability is key and the firm is now able to add data from more sensors and systems for labs, quality control and suchlike to fulfill other needs, such as quality control of raw materials.
MM Karton plans to introduce alerting functionality to further optimise supply chain processes and tap into machine learning for analysis of critical process conditions.