(a ‘digital transformation of energy management and automation’ company) has ‘digitally upgraded’ its factory in Flint, Wales with the help of AVEVA Group
(an industrial software company). The project, which commenced in late 2018 and is costing £300,000, will see the site become the UK’s first Schneider Electric ‘smart factory’.
The ‘smart transformation’ project primarily involved retrofitting the existing factory to maximise efficiency and minimise downtime. The hardware solutions deployed were complemented by the the full EcoStruxure software suite (these included Facility Expert, Resource Advisor, Machine Advisor, Augmented Operator Advisor, and AVEVA insight).
This combination of digital tools provides the facility’s managers with the ability to control and optimise every aspect of the factory. For example: Facility Expert enables managers to keep a digital logbook of equipment and identify and respond to any problems within the production site; Machine Advisor provides machine analytics that allow operators to optimise machine operations and improve reliability; and the AVEVA platform supports continuous operational improvement and real-time decision making.
As a result, efficiency at the Flint factory has been greatly enhanced; and despite a 20% decrease in demand in 2020, due to Covid-19, the Flint factory’s operational efficiency improved by 5% compared to 2019 levels — and productivity increased by 4%. The latter alone represents £240,000 in savings, and in 2021 operational efficiency is set to increase a further 7%.
Mark Yeeles, vice president of Industrial Automation at Schneider Electric, said: “From a production and maintenance perspective, the factory used to be digitally blind. Over the course of a few years, we have become the first ‘smart factory’ in the UK with complete operational visibility and clarity. We have control over real-time processes and can achieve a higher level of sustainability and safety. Given the project achieved a ROI within a year, it has been an undeniable success for all involved.”
Enrique Herrera, AVEVA’s industry principal for manufacturing, said: “Flint is a fantastic success story in all aspects — safety, productivity, and sustainably — at a reasonable cost. The fact that the site saw a return on the investment in smart technology within just a year and dramatic decreases in water and electricity use is testament to the potential for manufacturers to transform the way they operate quickly, cost-effectively, and sustainably.”