The Process Industry Conference that took place on 19th September in Brussels gathered all the relevant stakeholders for the European Process Industry. The day was dedicated to picturing the future EU process industry (download presentations here) and pitching SPIRE project.


On 2nd March 2017 Andrew Marshall (Spirax Sarco Ltd) presented Symbioptima at the IOR's International Refrigeration Committee, focused on the business opportunities of environmental policy and international energy reduction targets: what are the drivers and successes to date in achieving energy efficiency savings and lowering emissions?

Read more here.

Download presentation Case Study SYMBIOPTIMA Smart Thermal Grid Data Storage.

Substantial energy and resource efficiency improvements are priority requirements for manufacturing industry. Energy costs charged by energy companies fluctuate according to time and consumption peaks; to reduce the energy bill, manufacturing industries need to manage production operations with an energy effective planning to avoid peaks and to perform high consumption operations when the energy cost is cheaper. The need to optimize energy and resource becomes also more critical inside an industrial park, where the energy consumption of the different plants needs balancing to avoid supply shortage. 

It is unfeasible of course to drive production only on an energy base, as a plant has usually many other constraints; however, it is quite always possible to tune production to get a better energy efficiency. To get this target it is necessary to correlate precisely energy consumption with production data in order to be able to understand the impact of different steps of execution in term of energy and production.

Within SYMBIOPTIMA (work package 3), an Energy and Resource Management System (ERMS) application has been developed to combine energy and production data and to provide a clear picture of manufacturing operations.

The role of ERMS is to collect energy consumption data from the devices involved in a given manufacturing operation and associate these data to the production details (i.e. production step, machinery, material usage, production outcome etc.) in order to provide a comprehensive description of all resources used in a given production step. Through the analysis of each production steps it is possible to design an optimized production process and planning.

The design of ERMS is structured on separate layers (i.e. Virtual directory and ERMS platform layers), which process the information, in separate and self-consistent blocks, and transform the raw data coming from the production unit into business relevant information. The Virtual Directory layer connects the line sensors and equipment and has the aim of transforming the data originated in various formats, into consistent data, based on consistent and globally shared ontology. Virtual Directory allows the easy deployment of the ERMS on different lines producing a separation between the ERMS engine and data sources and reduce customization efforts.

The ERMS platform layer is designed according to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) principles and provides a data model and business logic for the consistent processing of data inside a cluster environment. Energy and manufacturing data, aggregated according to production steps, are exposed through standard interface to be consumed by specific tools.

ERMS is implemented using standard technologies and can be deployed in standalone mode inside a single plant or as distributed system in an industrial park.

ERMS architecture

ERMS architectural stack

The configuration for industrial park or cluster of plants has to face additional constraints regarding protected communication and data confidentiality. In this configuration a federation of applications is used; internal systems with full data access are  installed at plant level and these system communicate with an external aggregator that exposes a subset of aggregate data assuring the confidentiality of the production data of each plant.

In conclusion, the developed ERMS allows energy data collection and the association of energy and production data to evaluate the impact of energy in each production step. This aggregate information is fundamental to understand the impact of energy in the production process and it is necessary to reshape production execution, in term of Bill of Process and production scheduling to get an energy aware production able to save costs in terms of money and environmental impact.

Condition monitoring 3Manufacturing companies around the world are leveraging data generated from fully-instrumented plants to improve productivity and adjust processes, but also to reduce consumption of key resources such as energy, water and raw materials. The Internet of Things paradigm enables a smarter way to monitor production assets, and wireless networks are critical for implementing advanced sensor architectures to closely monitor key parameters such as temperature, pressure, emissions and vibrations, thus achieving greater control over plants performance and sustainability indicators.

Within Symbioptima consortium, the Swiss technology company Paradox Engineering is working with nxtControl and Synesis to develop a multi-layer technological framework for wireless sensing, monitoring and distributed supervisory control, allowing companies to collect and transport industrial data and feed plant-related decisions, demand-response strategies and repeatable dynamic models.

Two wireless hardware platforms are being engineered, both enhancing 6LowPAN wireless functionalities and integrating the IEC 61499 technological protocol. The first platform deals with Low Power Nodes: these wireless nodes stand out for a very limited power consumption, and are therefore suitable to connect battery-powered applications to the network and enable bidirectional communications. The second platform supports the implementation of High Performance Nodes to interface smart industrial devices, and Wireless Gateways to attach and detach nodes across the wireless mesh network. An integrated software architecture has also been developed to manage the entire infrastructure and its components.

The wireless sensor network solution is planned to be tested and validated in a small-scale industrial environment at the project partner Spirax-Sarco industrial site. It will be demonstrated at the production plant, where a set of complex thermal energy production facilities and a distribution network are also in use, including steam and condensed water returns.

The ultimate goal - to improve the overall sustainability of industrial processes from an economic, environmental and social point of view - cannot be achieved only through the classical scheme of competition. Indeed, the cooperating management of resources (including energy, waste and by-products) and the consequential integration of processing activities, by means of a nature-inspired industrial symbiosis, has to become a major driver in the transition to truly sustainable process industries. Many motivations exist for pursuing this type of industrial symbiosis, either directly or indirectly as a result of trying to meet other objectives.

Industrial clusters are groups of inter-related industries that drive wealth creation in a region, primarily through export of goods and services, while Industrial Symbiosis (IS) can be considered a way to handle activities among companies in the same Industrial cluster. Inside decisions are related to the single plant and they can be related to the single Production Units (PUs) within each plant. These decisions are optimized respect to own KPIs. We deny the PUs as the atomic decision units within an industrial cluster and we treat each of them as a single decision maker. Indeed, when dealing with a symbiotic cluster, the moment we have to take some decisions we have also to consider what is happening at cluster level. For this reason, we can introduce the concept of outside decisions. They are optimized respect to cluster-level KPIs, which in turn have a twofold purpose: from one side they have to increase the wealth related to a symbiotic approach at cluster level, on the other to maintain the single PU decision autonomy.

We introduce the concept of cluster coordinator, namely an organization that coordinates the cluster. This can be a physical organization or, more easily, a virtual platform, and this depends on the working context as well. At Company-level, each Industry performs its Supply Chain Optimization (SCO) to gain a high efficiency at operative level optimizing its short-term and long-term decisions. These decisions do not take into account any of the decisions of the other industries in the cluster or, in other words, are completely independent. To govern the whole cluster performance we introduce the Cluster-level optimization, whose aim is the increasing of the global cluster efficiency.

SUPSI and Gr3n organized with the Association of Tessin Industries (AITI) a workshop at SUPSI facilities on 31st January 2017. The workshop "Circular Economy experiences: sustainable product, process and business models" was meant to provide to participants a wider definition of Circular Economy, going beyond the mere recycling concept, and share tools and business models that lead to a ridefinition of production processes, products and services, maximizing circular economy impacts. Within the workshop, diverse experiences from industries have been shared, discussing the effective implementation of circular economy practices.

The workshop included the following speeches:

  • Introduction to Circular Economy
  • Life Cycle Thinking and LCA role in the context of Circular Economy
  • Reverse logistics and servitization
  • Cluster of companies, industrial symbiosis and innovative business models
  • Gr3n recycling and the SYMBIOPTIMA project

The workshop was attended by about 20 participants from both scientific (though few) and local industrial communities from different sectors (pharmaceutical, chemical, textile, mechanical and consumer goods). The audience was very interested and gained a deeper knowledge on the concept and methodologies for the adoption of circular economy business models. In particular, the discussion pointed out:

  • Companies' interest in understanding the practical implementation of proposed methodologies: how industrial symbiosis-based business can be implemented in a real case? How to assess the sustainability impacts of circular economy approach adoption?
  • Companies' discovery of new business models for embracing circular economy and, in particular, industrial symbiosis;
  • Stimulated reflection on possible new exchanges between participating companies in the workshop and their suppliers or other companies:
  • raised new opportunities of application of the Gr3n technology developed within SYMBIOPTIMA to other sectors, for example the textile one. 

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