Machine builders seize opportunities to innovate for customers
Located close to the birthplace of the Renaissance, machine builders in northern Italy are harnessing opportunities provided by the modern-day industrial renaissance to innovate for customers. And the Stratus Edge Computing solution is playing its part.
Breton – a pioneer for development of advanced technologies and materials – is a leading manufacturer of equipment, machines and plants to produce and process engineered stone, natural stone (marble, granite, ornamental) and metals.
Breton’s mission is helping customers by partnering with them to innovate their production processes and enhance their business performance. The company also manufactures and owns Bretonstone, Bretonterastone and Bretonstone Cement brands.
Breton wanted to enable business continuity for customers by using rugged on-the-edge solutions by adding a redundancy option for stone processing machines in mission-critical applications, where unplanned downtime was unacceptable for the business.
Industry 4.0 manufacturing environments
For its new machines, Breton was looking to develop a purpose-built industrial solution ready for Industry 4.0 manufacturing environments. Additionally, the team wanted a solution focused on OT useability to enable operations teams to easily deploy and maintain the equipment without reliance on the IT department. Initially, Breton attempted to build their redundancy option internally, using an industrial computer-based solution. The team quickly found that the time required to build and prepare machines could be improved.
Breton sought a new platform that would be easy to implement and could integrate existing software, removing the challenges experienced with the prior solution.The team required a solution that reduced preparation times and offered a compact form factor that could be installed directly in an electrical cabinet.
With end users in mind, Breton also required a solution that was effortless for operations teams to maintain. For these requirements, the Breton team selected Stratus Edge Computing.
Solution for new-generation machines
Breton turned to its long-time technology partner Wonderware Italia, an AVEVA and Stratus distributor, to provide a solution for its new-generation machines. The result was an operational technology (OT) oriented solution that combined AVEVA System Platform software with Stratus ztC Edge, which provided the development team with a simple, protected and autonomous Edge Computing solution for easy management and efficiency.
Using the Stratus ztC Edge platform, the team developed a solution that:
Wonderware Italia partnered with Breton’s process SCADA/MES unit of Controls Development Department to develop and validate the solution. Although the automation team was familiar with server environments, a key step was to validate the proposed Stratus and AVEVA solution with the IT department. Once the solution was vetted with IT, the automation team was then able to take over subsequent implementation and management of the solution.
Many key benefits
Following development, Breton embedded the AVEVA and Stratus solution into its machines at the plant in Italy, which were then sold to a customer in India. When implementing the Stratus solution, Breton found it took eight hours less, compared to their previous solution, and the Stratus platform is said to deliver many additional benefits, such as:
The built-in virtualisation of the ztC Edge enabled the integration of various applications, which would traditionally be installed on multiple computers, into a single device. The Wonderware Italia application for Breton included four applications on virtual machines (VMs):
This architecture gave Breton new flexibility to modify builds, and converge IT and OT. It also simplified wiring and reduced the machine footprint on the manufacturing floor.
Integrate IIoT applications
The Stratus ztC Edge platform gave Breton new flexibility to integrate IIoT applications within their machines. Thanks to the simple usage, Breton can now rapidly transform new capabilities for their flagship stone processing machines with faster time-to-market, offering to customers what it describes as “an elegant, easy-to-use and reliable solution which is much simpler to maintain”. Stratus’ built-in virtualisation delivered faster provisioning and more efficient application management.
Breton’s new machine edge architecture permits their end users to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO), it is reported, and to increase their production efficiency by reducing unplanned downtime to a minimum. At the same time, they are able to protect their data directly on the machine level.