[ October 8–11, 2019    McCormick Place    Chicago, IL USA ]

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Digitalization and automation are helping food and beverage production facilities move faster, smarter, and smoother, as well as use their existing resources more effectively. Despite this competitive advantage, the steps to Industry 4.0 and adopting the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology can feel like a giant leap.

We interviewed Emilie Lachance, Chief Marketing Officer at Worximity, to learn about how simple and cost-effective it can be to make IIoT work for every production line, even ones that contain processing equipment from multiple OEMs. 

Worximity’s story began with Yannick Desmarais, Founder & CEO. As a manufacturing engineer in the food industry, “he saw a lot of waste and resources lost on the factory floor due to a lack of visibility in real time,” Lachance says. “He saw everything that they were wasting through the process. It was like throwing boxes of fresh meat on the floor.” 

When Desmarais couldn’t find a solution to this problem, he decided to invent his own. So, in 2011, he left his job and founded Worximity. “The idea was to create a software application to allow manufacturers to monitor their production operation in real time, to reduce waste and product loss and improve accountability.” That idea culminated in the creation of TileBoard, a real-time factory dashboard. 

Creating connections for IIoT

TileBoard began as an iOS application. “You would walk the factory with an iPad in hand,” Lachance describes, “and check some of the KPIs and metrics of the line, like line speed, number of units produced, or total equipment downtime.” There’s now a web-based version of the software.

To improve connectivity and make it easier to retrieve equipment data, Worximity created the TileConnect smart sensor. “It's about the size of a cell phone,” Lachance says. Companies can easily install one on any production line and start seeing data right away. The sensor collects data to measure KPIs related to factors like downtime, throughput, and yield without interfering with any operations. “Then the data feeds into the TileBoard to display key production and performance information in real time.” 

Worximity’s solution has a few advantages compared to the IIoT solutions developed by OEMs. First, it’s easy to install and implement. “Often, OEM solutions are complex and require a lot of time to deploy,” Lachance says. But, more importantly, it can cover a whole line, even when that line is made up of different suppliers’ equipment. “With the new generation of the sensor, we are often able to connect two, three, or four machines with the same sensor,” she notes. “Because we’re collecting data from all those machines, we can combine everything from the same factory, or from multiple factories if you've got various locations, into the same dashboard.”

By providing data in real time, that dashboard helps processors respond quickly to problematic situations. There’s also a predictive analytics component of the software to help plants prepare for the future. “Once you have the historical data,” Lachance says, “you can make better-informed decisions about the future. You can see trends appearing before they actually happen, and make sure they’re in your favor.” 

Reducing waste and improving efficiency

With greater insight into production events, plants start addressing the problem that Desmarais set out to solve: too much waste. “When you're a huge manufacturer, the raw material you're using can be expensive,” Lachance says, “and you want to make sure that, in the process of transforming it, you're not losing any more than necessary.” 

For example, plants can pinpoint where the waste occurs and at what quantity, by connecting the scale weighing incoming materials with the one measuring the finished product. That data is the fuel for developing a corrective plan. “You can reduce waste and improve yield, which means more money in your pocket instead of on the floor.”  

Of course, waste isn’t limited to raw materials. Plants can lose time during equipment breakdowns and maintenance downtime. And if they don’t realize a piece of equipment isn’t operating to its full capacity, they could be missing out on opportunities to boost performance. “Line monitoring can help with all of these things,” Lachance says. “It's really a question of making manufacturers more efficient, reducing costs, and wasting less energy and raw materials.

Real-time monitoring also assists with workforce challenges by helping companies better allocate staff time. “But when you know which line is releasing what at what rate, you can easily, in real-time, move your employees around the line to make sure you're using your resources in the most effective way,” Lachance explains.

Addressing security and onboarding concerns

The rise of internet-based technologies has led to concerns about privacy and security. And news of millions of hacked accounts doesn’t help. But companies don’t need to be concerned about using technologies like Worximity’s solutions because all of the data is stored anonymously. There’s no way for any individual data points to be traced back to a particular facility. 

“All our services are cloud-based,” Lachance explains. “Everything stems from the sensor in the factory to the cloud, and then from the cloud to the client dashboard.” Even though the sensors are connected to the internet via WiFi, the data is completely separate from any identifying user information housed in the company’s internal network.

To help the companies transition to Industry 4.0, Worximity offers a one-month trial period with a TileConnect sensor on one of their machines. This allows processors to see the TileBoard software in action in their own plant and understand the benefits of connectivity and real-time data. “Data is the new oil,” Lachance says. “So, the first step with our clients is to gather data. What they do with that data next is what will set apart the leaders from the followers.”

Worximity is returning to PROCESS EXPO this year, and Lachance says that’s because “we feel like it's a great show. OEMs, potential clients, and potential partners will be there. It’s always a rich way to meet people and discuss projects that will benefit their companies.” 

To learn more about using real-time monitoring software to minimize waste and maximize productivity, find Worximity at Booth #4755.