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12/04/2022

Improved efficiency and productivity with smart pneumatics

Pneumatic systems are a manufacturing staple for many factories and industries around the world. They make use of a mechanical system that in essence turns electricity into mechanical motion through the use of compressed air instead of motors or electromagnets. 

However, like all things in life, technology has progressed considerably since the invention of pneumatics systems and now is the dawn of the smart pneumatic era. Read on to find out more about smart pneumatics and how they deliver smarter and more efficient production lines. 

What are smart pneumatics?

Smart pneumatics make use of a standard pneumatic system, with a few very distinct tweaks. In most factory and production applications, a pneumatic system is a collection of interconnected components that use compressed air to automate equipment. For example, on a pneumatic production line, a pneumatic cylinder is used to move items in a linear or rotary action, funneling in compressed air or pressurised gas to open the pneumatic system and move items from one location to another. 

Pneumatic systems are employed by many factories due to their simplicity and ease of integration, with a relatively low investment cost. However, due to the advance of industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT), pneumatic systems are advancing dramatically in line with the dawn of smart solutions. These smart pneumatic systems employ sensors and interconnected systems that improve the overall manufacturing process by sending vital information to plant operators and business decision makers. 

How do smart pneumatics work?

From the production of food and beverages, right the way through to manufacturing plants that are developing the latest automotive technology, an ever-increasing number of factories are turning to smart pneumatics for improved energy efficiency and production. Thanks to the energy savings brought about by smart pneumatics systems, including pneumatic cylinders, factories are able to reduce their overheads considerably with reduced gas and energy consumption. 

Smart pneumatics offer so much more than just simply energy savings. These smart systems are able to collect and process data from seemingly “unintelligent” pneumatic valves and cylinders to provide plant operators with a greater level of control and insight. By analysing and utilising this information, plant operators are able to reduce downtime, develop fast cycle times and ultimately improve overall productivity. 

Tackling real world challenges with smart pneumatics

In a standard pneumatic system, individual pneumatic components are often subject to wear and tear that can lead to leakage and inefficiencies. This will then most likely increase overtime and therefore result in increased energy consumption, higher operating costs and a larger carbon footprint. However, with smart pneumatic systems you can improve the overall efficiency of your factory solutions by being alerted to potential leaks and inefficiencies early. 

Smart pneumatic systems are incredibly versatile and can be monitored on both a local and cloud-based level, meaning that critical business decisions can be made not only by plant operators on site, but also in remote applications. This ensures that decisions can be made for applications with no human interaction, such as on oil and gas rigs. 

Another key challenge that many manufacturers face is under or over-consumption of airflow and air pressure, which leads to inefficient manufacturing processes. Through the use of smart pneumatic systems, plant operators can find the optimal consumption ratio and therefore ensure that gas is not wasted. Nor is too little used, which therefore can reduce overall production rates. 

What are the benefits of smart pneumatics?

Replacing relatively low-cost pneumatic parts with more expensive smart pneumatic systems may seem like a strange choice for many small businesses and factories. However, given that one single faulty component – even something as simple as a fault actuator – could contribute to a much larger efficiency problem, smart pneumatics are a wise choice. 

When properly leveraged, smart pneumatic systems that are powered by the IoT can help plant operators to find problems in their production lines and resolve these to radically improve overall productivity and efficiency. This can lead to significantly reduced downtime, greater cost savings and increased productivity. 

Less downtime

Smart pneumatics can be installed to inform plant operators of issues within machinery and production lines by measuring usage, cycle time and everyday wear and tear. When combined with cycle indicators, plant operators are able to gain a higher degree of insight into the system life and can schedule in predictive maintenance to prevent breakages that would otherwise lead to costly downtime. 

Greater savings

With fewer compressed gas leaks, plant operators and businesses can reduce the amount of energy used and the associated costs. In addition to this, greater savings can be taken advantage of by ensuring that manufacturers are not faced with expensive repair bills. 

Increased productivity

Smart pneumatics are used in numerous industries as they can provide notifications and alerts that will advise plant operators of any leaks, anomalies or breaches during manufacturing. Therefore, smart pneumatics improve the overall productivity of the production line by reducing the impact of leaks. 

Experts in pneumatic systems

Here at Matara, we are experts in pneumatic systems, with a wide array of products encompassing everything from pneumatic cylinders, pneumatic valves and the sensor switches needed to build complex smart pneumatic systems. To find out more about the range of pneumatic components available from Matara, speak to one of our expert team by calling +44 (0)1684 850 000 or email us on sales@matarauk.co.uk

 

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