Volume 6 Issue 3 March 2024

In this Issue

Welcome to Industree 4.0 for March 2024, exclusively sponsored by SAP.


By Richard Howells


What Did You Do With Your Extra Day This Leap Year?

Recently, we experienced a leap year, granting us an extra day on February 29th for the 6th time this century. Ever since Julius Caesar introduced Leap Years in 46 B.C, we have been fortunate to have that additional day every 4 years.


But how will you take advantage of it?


Here are a few interesting facts about what that extra day can mean…

  • The world’s population will grow by 265,000 - Today, the world’s population is over 8.1 billion and counting, and heading to 10 billion by 2055 (and I hope to be one of them). It has been estimated that at the current consumption rate, and considering changing dietary habits, economic growth, and income levels in developing countries, global agriculture production must be increased by about 60-70 percent to meet the increased food demand in 2050.
  • In the USA, the average person will waste a pound of food - According to US Department of Agriculture numbers, about 163,000 tons of food is thrown out in US households each day. According to UN calculations, if food waste represented its own country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
  • Nearly 42,000,000 trees will be cut down- Farming, grazing of livestock, mining, and drilling account for over 50% of this number. Another 35% goes to paper production. But we need trees to survive, as they absorb not only the carbon dioxide that we exhale, but also the greenhouse gases that we emit. So, to feed the increasing population, the answer must be about being more efficient and productive with the space we have, rather than increased deforestation.
  • Almost 1.1 million tons of plastic will be produced - It is estimated that 400 million tons of plastics are produced globally every year. That includes the five trillion plastic bags used worldwide. Shockingly, only 9% of plastic ever produced has been recycled, and 79% remains in landfills or the environment.
  • 22 metric tons of plastic will be dumped in the ocean - That amounts to 8 million metric tons a year to compound the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate in our oceans.

Safeguard the planet TODAY with a sustainable supply chain

As the world’s population grows, and the natural resources decline, we are challenged to minimize waste and recycle products and materials as they come to the end of life. We, as customers, are increasingly demanding ethically sourced products, that are manufactured and delivered through carbon neutral processes from sustainable companies.

This means designing products and packaging that are biodegradable, and environmentally sustainable. Sourcing materials ethically from organizations that follow social and humanitarian practices. Manufacturing with minimal waste and environment impact. Delivering with logistics processes that optimize loads to reduce mileage, emissions, and carbon foo...operating assets and equipment in an energy-efficient manner that is safe for the environment and world.

One final “1 day” fact

The Mayfly has a life expectancy of about one day. They infamously use all their time to eat, drink and make merry.

Even if some of us did not make the best use of February 29th, 2024 – we have many more days that we can take action to leave our planet in a better state than before. With the rise of sustainable products, efficient cars, reduction in water usage and less plastic, there are many opportunities to make a small difference…. I’m planning more vegan dinners.

To learn more about how to get your business ready to address the sustainability challenges, download the recent Oxford Economics Research

Building I4: Level 3: Manufacturing Execution System

By Pat Dixon, PE, PMP

Vice President of Automation, Pulmac Systems International (pulmac.com)

For approximately the last decade, many of us have heard that we need to digitize industry. That comes as a surprise, since for the last 50 years or more industry has been digital. What are they talking about?

It is at this stage, the Manufacturing Execution System (MES), that we finally see what these people have been talking about. 


MES is the connectivity of operational technology (Levels 0 through 2) to information technology (Level 4 where the Enterprise Resource Planning/ERP system lives). MES is everything to do with implementing the security addressed in the prior article and all applications that merge operational technology and information technology.

An example is batch processing. The ERP records a customer order for a quantity of a grade to be sent to a customer by a certain date, and we know what they are going to pay and confirm when the order has been delivered, the invoice submitted, and when it is paid. MES gets this order and figures out what equipment and resources are available to make this grade and meet schedule. When those resources are acquired, the batch processing is sequenced through the production process. When complete, the batch status and associated reports are sent up to ERP so that the order can be shipped and invoiced.

While batch processing has been around for a long time at the Level 1 and 2 layers, today we have the digital connectivity through the enterprise. MES is where nearly all the 4th industrial era development has happened.

A lot goes on at this layer. An example is order slotting. In the batch example given, how do we get the order scheduled without disrupting all the other pending orders? MES applications that are aware of all the orders at Level 4 need to optimize the resources at operational levels to do this. That means the order slotting application needs to know resources availability and performance. Performance is reported in terms of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). With OEE, we know whether we can process the batch by the deadline. If the resources are available and the OEE is high enough, while recognizing deadline constraints and priorities on other orders, we can find the optimal order slotting to meet all objectives optimally.

What is important is that the MES layer allows this to happen automatically, meaning we don’t need to manually write down information, make phone calls, edit spreadsheets, and waste a lot of time reworking the plan. This is what we mean by digitize industry. It is almost entirely at this level where the 4th industrial era happens.


MES is more mature in regulated industries like food and pharmaceuticals because the need is critical. Providing the lot tracking and quality records mandated by regulations make this functionality required in order to produce.

In the paper industry, we are far behind in this domain. We can make paper without it, but we don’t make the best use of our labor time and data when ERP financial data is isolated from operational data. The other reason is that many facilities still struggle with their operational systems, making it impractical for MES to be successfully implemented. There are mills with antiquated control systems where they can only find spare parts on eBay. There are mills with unpatched Windows 95 machines connected to their control system with default accounts and passwords. E&I resources are thin, so level 0 devices are barely maintained. The vast majority of PID loops are either underperforming or inducing variation because tuning is not maintained.

Mills that invest in the necessary resources to maintain Level 0 through 2 operational layers can become the high performing industry leaders with MES. Those that don’t will continue to be mired in perpetual 3rd industrial era challenges.

A Crowded Elevator

As Richard Howells pointed out in the first article in this issue, this "elevator" called Planet Earth is getting a bit crowded. We grow, make and consume items on a scale never before considered.

Richard referenced the year 2055 and expressed he hopes to still be here then. From my perspective, while possible, it is not probable--I will be 105 in 2055. However, I hope my children and grandchildren will be well and prospering yet then.

As for the other matters he mentions, we must get better at dealing with production and consumption.

It is like an elevator in a high rise building. If there are a couple of people on board it is pleasant but inefficient (think of gross weight and tare weight). As the elevator gets closer to capacity, it is more efficient but less pleasant for the occupants.

With today's algorithms and other software, we should strive for efficiency coupled with a pleasant experience. Sometimes we humans succeed at this, sometimes not. SAP can help us succeed.

I found it hopeful recently to review a new product in the agricultural industry. John Deere has a new weed sprayer that employs a technology called "see and spray." On an eighty foot wide boom, it employs forward looking cameras and clusters of three facing nozzles. The onboard cameras analyze the weeds that it sees and sprays only the weeds with the correct herbicide, from one of the three nozzles, each of which is connected to a separate onboad tank of the correct herbicide. This all happens, from visualization to spraying, within thirty inches of forward machine travel at about 20 miles per hour. Pretty cool...and efficient.

Lack of Confidence in IoT Security Plans High Among IT Leaders, Report

By Scarlett Evans

Businesses are seeing a significant rise in enterprise IoT security risks and vulnerabilities in IoT devices is emerging as a major source of concern.

Read the full article here

Building An IIoT Strategy: 5 Key Considerations for Success


In present day digitally-pushed commercial panorama, crafting a robust IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) approach is paramount for agencies aiming to thrive in a hyper-connected international. The convergence of cutting-edge technology has paved the manner for unprecedented degrees of connectivity and information exchange inside commercial ecosystems. As industries searching for to capitalize at the transformative potential of IIoT, it becomes imperative to meticulously plan and execute an IIoT method that aligns with organizational goals and fosters sustainable growth.

Read the full article here

Four Software Solutions for Product Quality in Manufacturing

By Roman Davydov

In 1983, a scientific article published in Harvard Business Review stated: "Quality is more than making a good product." In the article, Professors Hirotaka Takeuchi and John Quelch highlighted that providing goods with better technical characteristics at a lower price is no longer enough to meet customer expectations of product quality.

Read the full article here

A Future Full of AI ... and More

By Maggie Slowik & Andrew Burton

Market resiliency will be a defining factor for manufacturing success in 2024. Increased competition, new industry regulations, and ever-growing customer expectations will see forward-thinking manufacturers turn to new technologies to optimize operations and increase their competitive differentiation. This article outlines four predictions on how manufacturers can create more resilient supply chains with a helping hand from AI.

Read the full article here
Industree 4.0 is exclusively sponsored by SAP