Drives & Controls Magazine November/December 2022

NEWS n 5 UK manufacturers say that digital spending is boosting productivity ALMOST 80% OF UK MANUFACTURERS have increased their spending on digital technologies in the past two years, with a similar number planning to do so in the coming two, according to a new survey by the manufacturers’ association Make UK and the enterprise software specialist Infor. This investment is already bringing benefits, with 40% saying it has improved their productivity, 27% saying it has boosted profitability, and 31% reporting that it has improved labour efficiency. Some 9% of those quizzed say their productivity has improved by more than 50%. According to Make UK, more companies are moving to the “evolution” stage of digital adoption where they make changes to their processes – in particular, to product design, manufacturing systems, marketing and finance. But there are growing concerns that the skills shortage could hamper the drive to work smarter and greener. Almost a third (32%) of companies say that a lack of the skills needed to implement digital technologies is a barrier, with a similar number reporting that a lack of technical skills is holding them back from maximising their investments. Make UK is urging the Government to protect support schemes such as Made Smarter and Help to Grow Digital. It is calling on the Government to : n roll out Made Smarter across all regions of the UK and to widen the scheme to include industrial decarbonisation; n expand the R&D tax credit to include capital expenditure to spur on further digitalisation R&D; n enhance the Help to GrowDigital scheme to support manufacturers wanting to adopt packages of systems and software; and n establish a regional SME advisory service for digital adoption and appoint a lead delivery partner in each region. The survey reveals that while manufacturers’main investments are in well-established areas such as e-commerce, finance and manufacturing processes, they are also increasing their efforts to digitise supply chain management. Almost a third are now using digital technologies to manage their supply chains and a further 40% are considering doing so. “Our economy is undergoing a profound digital transformation with the potential to transform our lives and economy, making it more productive, resilient, and sustainable,” says Verity Davidge, Make UK’s director of policy. “Those countries that are better prepared for these changes will benefit the most, with the companies increasing their investment powering through the challenges that lie ahead with greater productivity, better skill levels and reduced emissions. “The key now is for manufacturers to unlock their potential on digital adoption which will be key if we want to invest and grow,” she adds. “To aid this process, Government must protect vital support programmes which are key to enabling SMEs in particular along their digital journey.” November/December 2022 AT THE RECENT SPS show in Germany, Siemens unveiled an enhanced version of its Analyze MyDrives Edge app with an AI-based function that calculates the energy consumption of an entire drive system without needing extra sensors or measuring devices. The app shows how efficiently a drive is running, what its energy consumption and operating costs are, as well as its carbon footprint. It can be used to optimise drive settings. Siemens says it is responding to the need for greater sustainability. While its Simotics SD IE4 motors already have efficiencies of up to 96% or higher, extra energy savings of up to 6% are possible with IE4 or even IE5 motors. The key to higher efficiency lies in the interaction of the individual elements in a drive system frommore efficient motors with variable-speed control, through digital components and tools, to the use of electrically buffered energy in the motor network. Together, these can achieve system savings of up to 60%, Siemens suggests. It adds that digitalisation will make a major contribution to increasing the energy efficiency of motor-driven applications in the future. The Analyze MyDrives Edge app is part of Siemens’ new Xcelerator digital platform which aims to help users to accelerate their digital transformation. At SPS, Siemens also launched a compact 250kWDC-DC converter with output voltages of up to 1.2kV for connecting batteries or ultracapacitors to industrial drives. The Sinamics DCP 250kW allows these energy storage devices to smooth load absorption from the grid, eliminating peaks. It can also make braking energy available in the DC system. With suitable system designs, the DC converters need fewer conversion steps. Power capacity can be expanded easily by connecting several converters in parallel. More than 80% of UK manufacturers that have adopted digital technologies expect the investment to pay for itself in under five years AI-based app optimises energy use of drive systems Source: Innovation Monitor (2022), Make UK/Infor