Many industries stand on the doorstep of the fourth industrial revolution. They will be firmly tied to new digital solutions and enablers such as IoT, cloud, 5G, AI and machine learning. Immovable factories will be a remnant of the past and just about all aspects of manufacturing will become more mobile, digitized and interconnected. In contrast to previous industrial developments, the human aspect will now go hand in hand with the integrity and trustworthiness of complex IoT systems.
Saving energy on ships with predictive analytics: Data is collected remotely, various control decisions are simulated onshore and the optimal decision is sent to a local control system – reducing HVAC power consumption by 10%. (source: Proekspert)
Estonia is considered to be the most digitalized society in the world. 99 % of public services are provided online, including electronic voting, digital bureaucracy and the declaration of taxes. The key to this is in the country’s unique e-identity, assigned to each resident and allowing them to interact securely with both public and private institutions alike. Many aspects can be replicated in an industrial setting as well. For example, the Estonian engineering sector is following in the wake of the country's IT success story and is inspired by it for new ideas and approaches in its field.
Estonian companies supply international markets with digital solutions for IoT and industry 4.0 applications for robotics, automation and mechatronic solutions or act as contract manufacturers. Pioneers are, for example, the information communication technology (ICT), mechanical engineering and metal working as well as the electronic industry; the latter two have export rates of 80 and 94 percent respectively.
Using IoT solutions to monitor critical bolts and screws on wind turbines helps to identify relevant data and information. Preventative maintenance contributes to increased operational reliability and service life of the equipment with reduced costs. (source: Enterprise Estonia)
Estonian companies are already development partners for international companies ranging from automotive supply, energy and engineering to logistics, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The IoT solutions provided by companies from the Baltic state cover predictive analytics, preventive maintenance, smart factory, smart logistics and process automation.
"Estonian advanced manufacturing companies are able to provide highly complex solutions including contract manufacturing, due to their extensive vertical integration," explains Triin Ploompuu, member of the board of the Federation of Estonian Engineering Industry. This relieves customers of procurement, supply chain management, development and production.
Predictive Analytics: IoT technologies for efficient air conditioning
Advances in technologies such as big data, IoT and machine learning have also given predictive analytics a boost. It is a challenge to filter out relevant data that leads to information and knowledge. This includes drawing conclusions from video, audio and sensor data or log files of machines that help production management to make predictions , avoid upcoming critical situations or control plants.
Triin Ploompuu, member of the board of the Federation of Estonian Engineering Industry. (source: Enterprise Estonia)
For example, a German shipbuilding company controls its on-board air conditioning technology with an application from Estonia: with predictive analytics, operating parameters are collected remotely, control options are simulated and the optimal decision is then transmitted to the air conditioning system. Human intervention is not required. Power consumption of the autonomous HVAC system has been reduced by 10 %. This model of air conditioning technology can also be transferred to office or production buildings.
Smart factory: highly automated manufacturing and real-time tracking
Another version of IoT is smart factory, an intelligent, fully automated plant, which is widely used in the production of wood pellets for example. Using data from various points in the pellet production process, the entire plant can be monitored to optimize production or identify problems. Employees can access the performance data of the facility digitally. With the operating parameters, factory operators can find the ideal output/cost ratio, which is particularly beneficial in countries with high energy costs. And the human aspect is also evident on the service side: Remote maintenance via the internet is used to install new programs, update the software or reprogram the system based in Estonia.
Smart logistics: internal and external logistics
Real-time IoT solutions are also used in internal logistics, for example in "tracking & tracing" applications. This way, UWB (Ultra-Wideband) can be used to locate and control logistics vehicles within the plant. With real-time tracking, the internal logistics team always has an overview of the exact number of vehicles, the components and materials they carry, and to where they are going. This digitalization enables faster planning, better route definition and higher efficiency, leading to greater cost-effectiveness, shorter delivery times and at-the-end improved customer service.
Estonia’s smart logistics are also used in supply chain processes in the freight forwarding industry, for example in efficiency tools for transport planning and optimization or in the monitoring of temperature-sensitive goods in various modes of transport. This facilitates cooperation with different customer segments on both sides, such as procurement managers or dispatchers.
Preventative maintenance not only for offshore applications
IoT applications are especially effective when dealing with costly work such as offshore operations like oil rigs or wind farms. These repairs at sea are labor and cost intensive. Smart applications collect data and information for monitoring and preventive maintenance in order to adjust maintenance intervals or repair work. Preventative maintenance contributes to increased operational reliability and service life of the equipment while reducing costs.
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