Enabling Operational Efficiency Improvement in the Toughest Industries Around the World

Posted May 14, 2015 by mtxwzx

ASSAMSTADT, GERMANY--(Marketwired - May 14, 2015) - Today, industry stands on the brink of its fourth major technological revolution,

ASSAMSTADT, GERMANY--(Marketwired - May 14, 2015) - Today, industry stands on the brink of its fourth major technological revolution, Industry 4.0, having previously implemented several major changes -- mechanisation, mass production and electronic automation. This new age will encompass industrial-strength wireless communications, digital networks and wirelessly connected devices, often referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT).
  Understandably, many companies are unsure of the steps they need to take on this new road -- this is especially the case amongst businesses that have hazardous areas and are under increasing pressure to improve operational efficiency without compromising safety.
  So, how do companies handle these challenges and what are some of the emerging technologies which will enable process improvement in hazardous areas? To answer these questions, we interview Sebastian Kaul, Product Manager at ecom instruments GmbH, who offers some insight into the road ahead and tips for how to overcome some of these challenges.
  1. What challenges will industrial companies face concerning their working practices and safety procedures
  In our everyday lives, wireless connectivity and digital networks are something we all depend on to keep in touch, send email, and send texts.
  This being said, many industrial companies today continue to use yesterday's technologies to plan, execute, manage and control their business processes. Due to a lack of alternatives or purely out of habit ("we've always done it this way"), many tasks are still performed with clipboard and paper.
As a result, companies are turning to mobile computing devices (tablets, smartphones, PDAs) to improve process efficiency and enable real-time visibility to allow near real-time decision making.
  2. What are the disadvantages of traditional methods related to field working practices?
  Many printed documents contain sensitive information which could do harm to the business in the wrong hands. Documents also need to be revised to reflect changes to the plant or working practices since the field worker relies on the documents they carry.
  3. What are the alternatives to this approach?
  Many of these challenges can be solved with the use of mobile devices.
  Accurate and timely information regarding the position and condition of mobile workers, equipment and material related to hazardous areas are critical for all companies, allowing better visibility and control to prevent unplanned downtime, waste and safety incidents.
  Transparent processes, up to date accuracy and realtime visibility are difficult, costly and often impossible to achieve with pen and clipboard.
  4. What advantages do mobile devices bring to industrial workflows?
  For the first time, mobile workers working in hazardous areas don't have to find, print and carry paper forms, documents, drawings and diagrams out into the field where they can get wet and become difficult to read.
  Using a smartphone, tablet or handheld computer designed for use in hazardous areas, the worker can simply scan the attached barcode or RFID tag to retrieve current information about the status of machines or their parts on the screen of the device.
  5. Which processes can be optimised using mobile devices?
  There are so many potential applications, it is often difficult to decide which one to implement first. Typical applications include the tracking and control of plant, testing machines and equipment as well as containers, tools and inventory management, supply chain management, inspection rounds, maintenance and repair, and plant safety inspections.
  Advantages related to these applications are lower user fatigue, improved utilisation, ongoing transparency of data in real time, easier item location, reduced security risk and a reliable base for decision making and thus greater profitability.
  6. Which requirements does a mobile device need to fulfill in order to succeed in professional use?
  In addition to the certification for hazardous areas, the devices must be extremely robust and withstand falls, water and dirt. It is also necessary to ensure an above-average battery life and display readability in direct sunlight.
  7. Why not use consumer mobile devices in industrial areas?
  A standard consumer device is neither tough enough nor is the material quality or battery life designed for a worker's full 12 hour shift under extreme conditions. A study by VDC Research concludes that the average failure rate per year of a non-rugged mobile device is 38%, whilst a robust mobile device is only 11%.
  Moreoer, in very noisy working environments, incoming calls and audible alerts cannot be heard and a two-way conversation cannot easily take place without background noise cancellation which is typically included in industrial headsets.
  8. What specific challenges need to be addressed when using mobile devices in hazardous zones?
  Even when these devices are switched off and robust enough to withstand the harsh environment, the battery and some unprotected circuits remain live or powered on, increasing the safety risk to the facility.
  Mobile devices which have been designed for use in hazardous areas include complex modifications and undergo intensive testing (especially for Zone 1) before they attain global certification and approvals.
  9. What requirements must be fulfilled when a mobile device is to be used in hazardous areas?
  However, this is not the case for a Zone 1 device, where the same serialised device must pass all of the test runs. These tests include an artificial aging test at high temperatures and humidity followed by drop tests with various temperature variations -- this puts a much higher level of stress on the device compared to MIL-STD-810G. As a result, the requirement for permanent and diverse ruggedness in hazardous areas is significantly higher, providing an extraordinary level of durability as well as hazardous area safety protection that can be relied upon.
  10. What alternatives are there to conventional robust mobile phones that are suitable for use in harsh and hazardous environments?
  For users who need an advanced mobile phone, we recommend the Ex-Handy®09. Like a mobile phone, it provides both a keyboard and a touch screen for user interaction and data entry. Unlike some phones, standard Android applications can run on the Ex-Handy®09, including Lone Worker Protection and Push-To-Talk applications.
  11. What advantage does a certified Smartphone bring to hazardous area tasks?
  This new higher level of online connectivity and coverage leads to more effective work processes, reduced downtime and costs, increased security, and streamlines decision-making processes. Also, Smart-Ex®01 is provided SIM-free and unlocked, allowing you to choose the network provider for the device or use the device within your existing network contract.
  Smart-Ex®01 uses the latest Android 4.4 operating system, supporting a wide selection of Android applications, including "man-down alarm", access to online documents, digital photos and videos, and streaming video. Support for BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) opens up the possibility to connect to Bluetooth beacons and other BLE-compatible devices.
  12. Which mobile devices can I use in hazardous areas if I don't have cellular connectivity?
  To provide the ultimate in flexibility and future-proofing, both Smart-Ex®01 and Tab-Ex®01 support SIM-less operation, where the only connectivity available is via WiFi.
  However, in some locations, even WiFi is not available. In this case, these devices can also operate in offline or batch mode (similar to the way many legacy handheld computers are used today) with network connectivity being achieved via physical USB connection in the non-hazardous area.
  13. How important is the use of tablet mobile devices in hazardous areas?
  For the first time, a fundamental change is possible to the working practices in hazardous areas. The introduction of the Tab-Ex®01 device with an 8" screen provides the perfect combination of usable screen size without being too big to carry around the work site.
  Now, drawings can be viewed and marked up in the field, complex diagrams and dashboards can be visible from anywhere, CAD equipment schematics can be used as guidance when maintenance is being performed on the equipment, and data can be entered into existing documents and ERP forms easily. Even augmented reality can be viewed with real-time metrics superimposed onto the 3D picture to inform the user of impending problems.
  14. How important is the availability of the new Android™ 4.4 KitKat operating system for use in hazardous areas?
  Most organisations today are concerned about mobile computer security and data vulnerability, and are taking steps to prevent unexpected security breaches. This is also true of the latest Android 4.4 operating system, which includes numerous security improvements over previous versions. However, Android 4.3 and older versions are no longer updated by Google, increasing the security risk since known deficiencies are not being fixed.
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Issued By mingtong
Website 123
Country China
Categories Construction , Environment
Tags alternatives , approach , challenges , disadvantages , improvement , industries , operational , world
Last Updated May 14, 2015