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How to Go About Data Acquisition Technically and How to Finance It

In this article, we have put together a great deal of information on digital transformation projects and machine data collection. In one place, you can thus learn why gather data and digitalise your plant, what human and financial resources you may need, and what technological tools you may find useful at the beginning. And we would like you to understand that we are here to help you.

We have already written about why it is important to get started with digital transformation of your business.

You now also know that data acquisition alone is not enough and that you as a company need to discuss what you actually need the data for (plus a few other things).

Have your colleagues and you, including your management, come to an agreement? Are you ready for a change? Jump right in then. Here are the first steps towards effective data acquisition and digital transformation.

Who will be in charge?

Choose an employee who will be responsible for your digital transformation project and machine connectivity (and who will have the time for that). Like every project, even this project deserves proper management. This employee should not only be an IT specialist but should understand how production works, what maintenance staff need and how the management make decisions. This person will communicate with other employees from across the company, promote the benefits of digitalisation and stress the importance of certain changes.

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This employee can, nevertheless, hardly manage to undertake the project alone. They will need colleagues to collaborate on it with, as well as external partners (such as FOXON). An experienced partner can help you develop the right strategy, choose suitable technology and avoid common mistakes. A free consultation will allow you to get a better idea of this kind of partnership.

 

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Finances first

Obviously, a project like this will cost something. While collecting data from one machine may start at tens of thousands of crowns, acquiring data from the whole production line will likely cost hundreds of thousands. And data reporting and integration with higher-level systems is a matter of further investment.

Above all, you should keep in mind that digitalisation is not one project with a limited budget. In the same way that a factory continuously invests in machinery, recruitment, training and research, it should allocate a certain percentage of its annual turnover or profit for plant digitalisation.

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Did you know that you can now apply for grants that will enable you to start your digital transformation journey or make a significant progress on it? The EU offers contributions of 0.5–15 million crowns. This money can be used to pay for services provided by suppliers, software licences and cutting-edge hardware.  

How to go about data acquisition technically

To collect data from production lines, you need choose the right software, depending on what control systems you have in your production, what data you are interested in and where you want to store it or transfer it to.

 

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You can learn more about this in our article on data connectivity. KEPServerEX boasts a large number of drivers for many different control system types, while OPC Router can connect them to various higher-level applications including SAP. And if there is some data that you cannot access, we will offer a different technical solution.

 

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Modern applications and customised dashboards

On top of the layer described above, you can then develop applications and visualisations according to your needs and integrate information into existing systems. Your maintenance staff will have real-time dashboards on screens in the control room. The management will be able to view reports in a mobile application. And your production will integrate data with MES and email alarms.

For all these situations, it is ideal to use a single piece of software which is modular enough to suit as many purposes as possible. We have gained considerable experience with and can recommend two software platforms.

ThingWorx enables you to develop customised applications and dashboards to satisfy your customers' needs. For a very long time, we have been using it at ŠKODA AUTO. Having implemented it in the car manufacturer's various shops, we have helped them share information with each other.

 

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Ignition, the other software platform, is suitable for smaller, agile projects. Being a SCADA IoT platform, it can send alarms to users, visualise real-time data, connect data to a 3D digital twin of a production line or the entire shop. A big advantage is that it supports an unlimited number of tags, users and developers in a project. This means that even when your digital transformation project is growing, your costs remain low. In addition, Ignition is fully mobile responsive.

As a result of the combination of all the systems described above, you get FIOT projects. We will help you build a meaningful digital transformation project, with your future needs in mind.

 

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