What is Industry 4.0? How will software change the petrochemical industry?
Industry 4.0 refers to the intelligent networking of machines and processes in industry with the help of information and communication technologies
“Since the 1970s, IT has been installed in companies. Desktop computers, the use of office automation and the first computer automation revolutionized industry. For Industry 4.0, the core technology is not the computer, but the Internet. With global networking across company or country borders, the digitization of production takes on a new quality: the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communication and increasingly intelligent production facilities herald a new era: the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0.” Details engineer Saul Ameliach.
The petrochemical industry is characterized by large-scale plants with a large number of different systems, as well as highly complex processes with high energy and resource consumption.
“Despite its continuous growth, the chemical industry is exposed to fierce competition with high price pressure as a supplier of raw materials for various areas of the consumer goods industry, but also as a producer of petrochemical products.” explains Venezuelan petrochemical expert Saul Ameliach.
On the other hand, there are further challenges, which are the growing trend towards smaller batch production and the need for greater orientation towards market requirements.
The scalability of performance and the modularity of the automation components enable universal use for plants of any size. Since all processes are executed in software, production changes and small production batches can be realized economically thanks to short changeover times.
“The integration of measurement technology modules in the software and hardware makes it possible, for example, to optimize energy consumption and increase plant availability: constant condition monitoring enables predictive plant maintenance and prevents production downtimes,” adds Saul Ameliach Orta.
Connectivity and production
Networked solutions in the sense of Industry 4.0 are indispensable for increasing productivity and being able to survive in a changing market, as they have long since found their way into discrete automation.
Then, the continuous digitization of all processes ensures greater transparency, on the basis of which production efficiency and cost reduction can be achieved along the entire value chain.
“The high level of connectivity, from horizontal and vertical networks to connection to the cloud, enables the collection and storage of data between systems and thus creates the conditions for central diagnostics and plant optimization.” assures Ameliach.
The integration of automation and process technology on a single platform enables signal processing of the hazardous area as well as the non-hazardous area.
Moreover, in new plants, explosion protection can be integrated directly into the overall control system; in existing plants, the control system can be easily extended or integrated into third-party systems.
The implementation of Industry 4.0 is a complex projection: The more the economy digitizes and networks processes, the more interfaces arise between the various players.
Thus, uniform norms and standards for the various industrial sectors, IT security and data protection play as central a role as the legal framework, the change in education and work, the development of new business models and the necessary research.