Industry 4.0 closes the gap between customer and supplier

The Industry 4.0 revolution is transforming the way businesses interact with their clients – giving both the manufacturers and the clients more freedom to choose what they want.

A recent example was demonstrated by ESM Australia helping Melbourne-based coffee roasting company, YourCoffee, develop a flexible and smart production plant that connects the customer orders to the production and supply process.

An automation solutions provider, ESM Australia used Ignition SCADA with web services APIs and Beckhoff PAC-based factory automation platform to help YourCoffee connect its Shopify e-commerce storefront ordering process directly to the production floor.

The combination of Shopify and Ignition has closed the gap between the customer and the supplier, increasing the quality, speed, and efficiency of the supply chain.

Read: Real-time data monitoring with Ignition SCADA platform

The result is a highly optimised production run, where the orders coming from the customers are automatically collated to reduce changeover times and eliminate waste.

“What we wanted was a way to make the plant extremely flexible, so that we can satisfy a broad range of customer demands within short lead times, while focusing on reducing waste,” Steve Simmons, director, YourCoffee said.

YourCoffee’s customers can order their desired custom-made blends online, selecting the bag size, type, and label type. Using Web Service calls, Ignition harnesses the data returned from Shopify, where it’s filtered within Ignition Gateway scripting functions.

The Ignition-based production system automatically calculates when, where, and how much coffee is needed to produce the blends and then creates a roasting and packing schedule.

Ignition’s database enables the tracking of inventory of both green beans and roasted beans. The system manipulates live data to calculate on the fly what quantity of blended coffee can be produced at any time and automatically provides live data to a user’s iPad and the Beckhoff PLC to weigh out beans and blend for the perfect coffee.

To help maintain the tight quality standards required by YourCoffee, Ignition’s mobile module allows operators in the factory to use iPads to guide them through operational steps, and monitor production on the floor to produce high-quality coffee every time.

“Using the platform, we know exactly what is being ordered and what we need to roast each time. At any time I can grab my mobile phone and check where the processes are and have control over the process. The Ignition platform is really easy to interact with and easy to access,” Jeremy Irwin, operations manager, YourCoffee said.

ESM Australia has been offering the Ignition SCADA platform in Australia for nearly five years. Managing director, Glen Fry, said automating the production process using tools such as Ignition enable manufacturers to harness the power of technology to set themselves apart from their competitors.

“YourCoffee is a good example of how automation is helping companies deliver personalised solutions to customers, while driving efficiency in the production process,” Fry said.

“Through automation, we can help the Australian companies maintain their competitive edge and help sustain Australian manufacturing.”

For companies like YourCoffee, the scope for optimisation goes even further. YourCoffee and ESM are currently planning to further augment their Industry 4.0 adoption by providing even higher levels of customisation to suit each client. Automation for the booking and scheduling of shipments will provide higher efficiencies. It will also shorten delivery times of fresh products even further.

“YourCoffee and ESM will also implement automatic reporting systems that will allow management to understand trends of both client ordering and production. The systems will also monitor energy- usage data from the roasters, helping the company to optimise efficiency and lessen environmental impacts,” Fry said.