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Connected Air Compressors, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things

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Two of the most popular buzzwords floating around today are Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IOT). But what exactly do these mean, and how do they relate to compressed air systems & industrial manufacturing? Let’s find out!

What is Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IOT)?

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is a term that describes using automation and data exchange within the manufacturing sector – specifically in the context of creating a “smart factory.” A smart factory is a space that is both highly connected & highly digitalized, using a consistent steam of data from humans, machines, & systems to communicate, coordinate, and monitor manufacturing processes. Essentially, the 4.0 factory digitally connects people, machines, and systems to the production process!

Internet of Things (IOT)

The Internet of Things (IOT) is a key element of Industry 4.0, involving the digital integration and connection of equipment. Once the equipment is connected to a larger system, it’s then able to send and receive data via an internet connection. Keep in mind that the Internet of Things doesn’t exclusively refer to a machine being connected to the internet; it also refers to the interconnection of machines & equipment. IOT, then, can be viewed as the massive network of connected & interconnected “things.”

How Do These Concepts Relate to Compressed Air Systems?

The focus on creating a digitally-connected smart factory is informing all stages of the design, manufacturing, monitoring, and managing of compressed air products. Three specific examples of how the compressed air industry is adapting to this new way of doing things include:

  1. Smart Controller Technology. As the “brain” of the compressors, smart controllers such as Elektronikon and the Optimizer 4.0 collect data from sensors within the machine itself – which you can then easily use to optimize compressor efficiency. The intelligent system control can also automatically adjust the main motor speed depending on air demand, as well as use a delayed second stop to stop the compressor whenever possible.

  2. Remote Monitoring. By using SMARTLink, you’re know the status of your compressed air equipment at all times – even from a mobile device! From early warnings about equipment problems, consistent data gathering for identification of system improvements, and full transparency of machine performance, SMARTLink provides you and your business with the necessary insights to make smarter & more fully-informed decisions.

  3. Preventative Maintenance 4.0. This concept is still in the initial stages, but refers to creating technology that combines hardware with customizable data monitoring software! Eventually, this type of technology will enable air compressors to track and make process improvements independently.

As Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things continue to cement themselves as foundational concepts in the manufacturing industry, we should think to the future – a future that may include the transformation of compressed air systems into autonomous cyber physical systems.

Explore all of Atlas Copco's Central Controllers and Air Optimization products here!

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