Gauging workflow efficiency can sometimes be highly problematic.
In large factories, warehouses and plants, it can be difficult to know if workers are in the right place or not, how assets are moving from machine to machine and whether deviations from procedures or bottlenecks are negatively impacting the efficiency of the overall production process.
EIT Digital is launching DigiFlow, a new Innovation Activity from the Digital Industry Action Line, that is designed to help companies gain a better understanding of industrial workflows through improvements in digitisation, monitoring and optimisation.
IoT devices will be installed across customers' plants and sensors will monitor the position of workers and assets across the shop floor in real-time. Instead of using an external cloud platform, data will be processed at the edge of the network by means of a flexible fog computing platform provided by the activity leader, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, using an application which offers indoor localisation and is provided by activity partner, ThinkInside.
The collected information will then be assessed against workflow models designed by another DigiFlow partner, the University of Edinburgh, in order to improve process efficiency and support plant managers in decision-making.
"We adopted fog computing, an evolution of cloud computing, to collect and analyse the data, for three main reasons," says Domenico Siracusa, Head of FBK's RiSING (Robust and Secure Distributed Computing) research unit.
"First, the volume of data being produced by big industries can be huge, whereby filtering and analysis at the edge can help reduce bandwidth consumption and processing delays. Secondly, connectivity may not be cost-efficient for SMEs using applications that exchange data with services in the cloud. Last but not least, some of this data might be sensitive and companies prefer not to process it externally."
A pilot installation of the DigiFlow system will start this summer, in the facilities of its first trial customer, a company leader in the production and marketing of writing instruments.
By the turn of the year, a first product version will be officially launched. Italian company Reply Santer, which acts as the initiative's business champion, will commercialise the solution, enabling more companies to feel the pulses of their factories.