Supply chains of tomorrow will be born digital. The difficult part is to turn your old legacy factories, production lines and equipment into digital assets in your supply chain to harvest the benefits of digital automation.

Transforming legacy manufacturing

Digital automation is the answer to higher performance, shorter lead times, higher uptime, higher product quality and lower manufacturing costs. But most mature manufacturing companies have factories and production lines that date back 10, 20 and even 30 years.

Legacy production lines are often highly heterogenous with a combination of externally purchased assets and tailor made assets. Some equipment may have been replaced by new machinery and industrial robots, but continuous replacement of assets requires large investments.

So, how can this legacy equipment continue to be real assets in a more and more digital automation environment? The answer is to digitise the legacy supply chain assets. This is a core competence of FORCE Technology.

IoT makes supply chain assets digital

Equipment does not have to be born digital to be part of a digital supply chain. Also, mechanical and analogue devices can become part of a digital supply chain if they can be monitored and controlled digitally. Sensors, actuators, microcontrollers, connectors and PLC interfaces are the IoT components used to make equipment digital.

Depending on the purpose of the digitalisation and the maturity level of the PLC technology and SCADA systems, the monitoring and control can either be done using PLC's or a new dedicated infrastructure. Both infrastructures can be used to support more advanced asset models such as digital twins as well. For the design methods and techniques used by FORCE Technology to IoT-enable devices, please visit our page about designing IoT Solutions.

From IoT-enabled assets to digital automation

The IoT-enabling of supply chain assets will typically be done as part of an automation master plan for the digitalisation of a production line, a warehouse or a distribution link. Please find more information about the optimisation planning using industry 4.0 technologies here.

An important aspect in digital supply chains is the maintenance of assets. IoT-enabling is an important driver to move from time-based maintenance planning to more predictive maintenance. Please read more about predictive maintenance here. 

If you want to lean more about optimizing supply chains with IoT solutions, please contact us or read about IoT solutions here.