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Next Gen Industrial Revolution X.0

IN THE 1700s, we had the first Industrial Revolution, with the adoption of steam and water power and mechanisation. In the late 1800s, we had the second, with the advent of assembly lines and mass production, and electricity. In the 1980s, the third Industrial Revolution introduced computers and automation. And in more recent years, Industry 4.0 has introduced to manufacturing the likes of cyber technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and cognitive computing.

The process industries are already seeing the benefits of Industry 4.0, but global professional services company Accenture believes that the speed of change is already moving us beyond Industry 4.0, to Industry X.0. The Chemical Engineer spoke to Simon Coombs, Accenture’s European lead for digital plant (including for the chemicals, power, energy and metals sectors), to find out more.

What is Industry X.0?

Accenture defines Industry X.0 as “the digital reinvention of industry”, transforming core operations, worker and customer experiences and business models. According to Coombs, Industry X.0 essentially refers to the ongoing industrial revolution. Technology and innovation is moving faster than it ever has before.

“If there’s going to be Industry 4.0, there’s going to be 5.0 and 6.0 and it’s going to go on and on. We’ve coined this phrase Industry X.0 to really get that idea of looking towards the future and combining transforming efficiency with looking at how we can use this transformation to create innovation and new growth within our clients’ businesses to create top-line value,” he says.

The introduction of cyber technologies is an important part of Industry 4.0, but the difference between that and Industry X.0 is the transformational aspects and the combination of many different technologies and innovations.

“All of these terms, connected worker, big data and so forth, are almost treated as silos in Industry 4.0. Industry X.0 is how you connect those things together to transform the way of working,” says Coombs, adding: “What if the connected worker, which is just one element, is combined with video analytics, and artificial intelligence? You’re now starting to get a more comprehensive solution.”

“What if the connected worker, which is just one element, is combined with video analytics, and artificial intelligence? You’re now starting to get a more comprehensive solution.”

This could lead to new ways of doing business, new relationships and ways of interacting with customers, new sources of revenue and improved supply chains. Coombs says that industry should avoid the ‘rear view mirror’, continually looking backwards and analysing data, but use that data to look ahead and plan, for example to prevent an emerging risk. Actions can be taken before something happens. If it is an ongoing risk, that action could even be autonomous. Forward-looking actions could also include analysing markets and combining that with operational data, even on an hourly basis, to influence production.

“For the process industries, this will involve looking at the more effective use of assets, making investment decisions to defer maintenance, can you run an asset harder maybe, or perhaps some more proactive capital expenditure would lead to new business opportunities,” says Coombs.

 

Four key trends

Coombs says that Accenture has identified four new trends and ways of working in asset- and energy-intensive industries, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF). The first one is automation. This removes workers from dangerous or hazardous situations, and means they would no longer need to carry out repetitive, tedious tasks. This, however, will not mean a future of zero workers or automating everything, a so-called “dark plant”, because removing the routine tasks will mean that the non-routine tasks become even more important.

The second key new way of working therefore, is upskilling workers. Coombs says to make this safe, companies will need “enablers” such as virtual reality and simulations or using wearables such as the Google Glass for augmented reality coaching. It might also include providing data on tablets or wearables so that a worker has it exactly when they need it.

The third trend is the emergence of more complex “ecosystems” within industry, including companies and their suppliers. Once upon a time, says Coombs, you would talk about a plant on its own, then about the value chain, but now it’s becoming more complicated still, with the advent of cloud-based data centres, data trust and data organisation.

“You potentially get an environment where people are going to be sharing information and we need to think about the value of that information. Is it more valuable if it is kept confidential and retained within the organisation or does it have more value by being openly shared within the ecosystem? Oil and gas is a good example. Historically, the exploration information is critical, confidential and proprietary, but there are now some companies which are openly crowdsourcing it,” he says.

The fourth trend Accenture found is the use of advanced  analytics, not just monitoring data but using it to make predictive and proactive decisions, on the road to optimisation and autonomous operations.

Coombs says that the main priority at the moment is the security of the data, not just in terms of cyber security, but also keeping the integrity and context of the data. As companies move to more data-driven operations the nature of what the workers do will need to change. Operators will no longer be logging into terminals to get data but accessing it through tablets and glasses.

“Efficiencies will lead to a headcount reduction, but that’s offset by new roles in data science, data management, data integrity management and so forth, that will be needed in order to exploit Industry X.0 day-to-day,” says Coombs, adding that workers will need to be prepared to acquire the new skills, but also, industry will need to be prepared to do what it takes to attract the next generation and keep them productive.

Learning and changing

Coombs says that it will be important for the process industries to learn from the consumer retail industries about the creation of new business and being open to new ways of doing things.

One major example is new ways to use the cloud. Amazon, Google and Apple have introduced hands-free smart speakers with voice recognition. These can respond to commands with an activation word (the Amazon Echo for example responds to the name “Alexa”), to order goods online, control connected home appliances, lighting and heating, carry out internet searches, play music and a number of other tasks. The technology can also allow such devices to make suggestions such as for other products a customer might want. Coombs says this is a prime example of a new way of doing business. As well as learning from consumer industries, industry could adapt and adopt such technology.

We think about the actions and the insights that the client wants, then worry about the specific data and calculations that we’re going to need

“For example, why is the plant manager having to go into work to log into a system to find out what’s going on? In the future, they could potentially be sitting at the breakfast table and say ‘Alexa, tell me the top five issues and risks which have been emerging overnight.’ Alexa comes back to say that there were five incidents overnight, or five risks, or such-and-such has happened, would you like me to call the team leaders together for a meeting? You start to change the whole way of operating from reactive to proactive,” says Coombs.

The way “big data” is used will also need to change. Asset- and energy-intensive companies already have a lot of data from their plants, and have been collecting it for years. They might try to combine it all, add in some machine learning and see what they can find out, but Coombs says this will not necessarily lead to added value. The Industry X.0 approach is different. “We think about the actions and the insights that the client wants, then worry about the specific data and calculations that we’re going to need,” says Coombs. “Big data isn’t just about volume.”

Accenture has surveyed executives at 900 large companies from 21 countries to find out about the implementation of new digital technologies and the benefits they were seeing. The results upon first glance do not look inspiring, with just 13% saying that they had seen new business growth and greater efficiency from investment in digital technologies. However, Accenture found that digital technologies have largely been implemented piecemeal. Using economic models, it assessed a range of technologies including virtual and augmented reality, big data analytics, digital twin technology, blockchain, and artificial intelligence, to see how full implementation could help. It estimates that chemical companies, for example, could increase their market capitalisation by an average of US$4.4bn. For energy companies, that figure was even higher, at US$16.4bn. Accenture says this shows how Industry X.0 can really provide benefits for companies which fully embrace it.

The important thing to remember, according to Coombs, is that the technology for Industry X.0 is largely mature and available, but what is new is the ways of implementing it.

 
Vision: Microsoft’s Hololens, used for Mixed Reality overlays of 3D models and data to support workers

Technology is afoot

The Accenture head office in London, UK has an Innovation Hub that showcases some of the latest technology that will contribute to Industry X.0 advances, and runs sessions for companies interested in finding out more. The technology on display changes fairly regularly. The company has 25 such centres around the world.

When The Chemical Engineer visited, the first bit of kit to be demonstrated was a ‘cobot’ (collaborative robot) called Sawyer, made by Rethink Robotics. Many assembly-line robots must be contained within cages for safety or kept well away from human workers, limiting their usefulness. However, cobots are designed to work alongside humans. Sawyer has been designed to carry out repetitive tasks, for example in a dangerous or sterile environment and can learn by doing.

Innovation Hub lead Abhishek Joshi showed how a human operator can manipulate Sawyer’s arm, which will remember what it has done and continue to do it, saving time on programming. Tasks can be carried out to 1 mm of accuracy.

The Connected Mine demonstration showed how Industry X.0 solutions could improve efficiency at mines, using a case study of a mine owned by Freeport McMoRan. Accenture’s Industry X.0 innovation leader, UK & Ireland, Mark Walton-Hayfield explained that its software can take into consideration all kinds of information, including what is being mined, from where in the mine, the quality of the ore, the performance of the crusher, truck operations and what is already available, and make transport, pricing and processing decisions. It can also incorporate video analytics to check worker health safety, for example if a worker is not wearing the correct protective equipment or is accessing areas they should not, and monitor worker performance for fatigue and what might be causing it.

A system designed for LNG looks at commercial and operational key performance indicators (KPIs) such as throughput to improve plant performance, for example to identify bottlenecks and assess the cost of dealing with them. At one client’s site, camera-carrying drones are flown around the plant to assess the acid gas removal process. Video analytics can be used to assess corrosion, and combined with the plant data, are used to decide what to replace and when to minimise throughput loss.

The Chemical Engineer was also shown a a Vuzix M300  headset, similar to Google Glass, with a tiny video projection screen which can be worn by connected workers, for example to run them through video tutorials on a repair or in an augmented reality situation, showing them sensor readouts. There was also connected smart tools – the connected kitbag – and an automatic handheld sensor to determine the dry matter content of sewage sludge. This is often sold as a commodity and its price is determined by the dry matter content. An instant way of measuring this is therefore very useful.

All of the technology showcased fits into the Industry X.0 ethos of gathering data and using it to create value for industry.

 
Sawyer: Can carry out tasks to 1 mm accuracy

Ditching the follower mentality

The process industries, Coombs says, have always had more of a follower mentality, but this will have to change. The process industries are going to have to innovate and change to survive in the new world. Traditionally, the process industries are very risk averse, naturally, with expensive kit and the potential for disaster if something goes wrong. In the X.0 future, the process industries will have to be more nimble.

“What’s interesting is the exponential rise of new technology now. It’s only a couple of years ago that if I’d said 3D printing, you’d have thought it was a gimmick. Now, thousands of Airbus components are 3D-printed. There are fighter jets with 3D-printed valves, because they’re better, stronger, lighter, more affordable etc,” says Coombs. “In a couple of years it’s gone from gimmick to normal.”

Traditionally, you wait until a system is very stable until you risk switching out, but clients now are realising that things are changing too fast to wait until everything is proven

Something like augmented reality isn’t always cost-effective yet, but in a couple of years, it likely will be. Companies experimenting with it now will be in a better position to exploit it in future. It’s this new environment the process industries will need to adapt to.

“Traditionally, you wait until a system is very stable until you risk switching out, but clients now are realising that things are changing too fast to wait until everything is proven. They want to know how to go from one way of working to another way of working in a sensible manner, and what they can do to be ready, faster, and capture the future value,” says Coombs.

“It’s making engineering more exciting actually, and the potential is brilliant.”IN THE 1700s, we had the first Industrial Revolution, with the adoption of steam and water power and mechanisation. In the late 1800s, we had the second, with the advent of assembly lines and mass production, and electricity. In the 1980s, the third Industrial Revolution introduced computers and automation. And in more recent years, Industry 4.0 has introduced to manufacturing the likes of cyber technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and cognitive computing.

The process industries are already seeing the benefits of Industry 4.0, but global professional services company Accenture believes that the speed of change is already moving us beyond Industry 4.0, to Industry X.0. The Chemical Engineer spoke to Simon Coombs, Accenture’s European lead for digital plant (including for the chemicals, power, energy and metals sectors), to find out more.

What is Industry X.0?

Accenture defines Industry X.0 as “the digital reinvention of industry”, transforming core operations, worker and customer experiences and business models. According to Coombs, Industry X.0 essentially refers to the ongoing industrial revolution. Technology and innovation is moving faster than it ever has before.

“If there’s going to be Industry 4.0, there’s going to be 5.0 and 6.0 and it’s going to go on and on. We’ve coined this phrase Industry X.0 to really get that idea of looking towards the future and combining transforming efficiency with looking at how we can use this transformation to create innovation and new growth within our clients’ businesses to create top-line value,” he says.

The introduction of cyber technologies is an important part of Industry 4.0, but the difference between that and Industry X.0 is the transformational aspects and the combination of many different technologies and innovations.

“All of these terms, connected worker, big data and so forth, are almost treated as silos in Industry 4.0. Industry X.0 is how you connect those things together to transform the way of working,” says Coombs, adding: “What if the connected worker, which is just one element, is combined with video analytics, and artificial intelligence? You’re now starting to get a more comprehensive solution.”

“What if the connected worker, which is just one element, is combined with video analytics, and artificial intelligence? You’re now starting to get a more comprehensive solution.”

This could lead to new ways of doing business, new relationships and ways of interacting with customers, new sources of revenue and improved supply chains. Coombs says that industry should avoid the ‘rear view mirror’, continually looking backwards and analysing data, but use that data to look ahead and plan, for example to prevent an emerging risk. Actions can be taken before something happens. If it is an ongoing risk, that action could even be autonomous. Forward-looking actions could also include analysing markets and combining that with operational data, even on an hourly basis, to influence production.

“For the process industries, this will involve looking at the more effective use of assets, making investment decisions to defer maintenance, can you run an asset harder maybe, or perhaps some more proactive capital expenditure would lead to new business opportunities,” says Coombs.

 

Four key trends

Coombs says that Accenture has identified four new trends and ways of working in asset- and energy-intensive industries, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF). The first one is automation. This removes workers from dangerous or hazardous situations, and means they would no longer need to carry out repetitive, tedious tasks. This, however, will not mean a future of zero workers or automating everything, a so-called “dark plant”, because removing the routine tasks will mean that the non-routine tasks become even more important.

The second key new way of working therefore, is upskilling workers. Coombs says to make this safe, companies will need “enablers” such as virtual reality and simulations or using wearables such as the Google Glass for augmented reality coaching. It might also include providing data on tablets or wearables so that a worker has it exactly when they need it.

The third trend is the emergence of more complex “ecosystems” within industry, including companies and their suppliers. Once upon a time, says Coombs, you would talk about a plant on its own, then about the value chain, but now it’s becoming more complicated still, with the advent of cloud-based data centres, data trust and data organisation.

“You potentially get an environment where people are going to be sharing information and we need to think about the value of that information. Is it more valuable if it is kept confidential and retained within the organisation or does it have more value by being openly shared within the ecosystem? Oil and gas is a good example. Historically, the exploration information is critical, confidential and proprietary, but there are now some companies which are openly crowdsourcing it,” he says.

The fourth trend Accenture found is the use of advanced  analytics, not just monitoring data but using it to make predictive and proactive decisions, on the road to optimisation and autonomous operations.

Coombs says that the main priority at the moment is the security of the data, not just in terms of cyber security, but also keeping the integrity and context of the data. As companies move to more data-driven operations the nature of what the workers do will need to change. Operators will no longer be logging into terminals to get data but accessing it through tablets and glasses.

“Efficiencies will lead to a headcount reduction, but that’s offset by new roles in data science, data management, data integrity management and so forth, that will be needed in order to exploit Industry X.0 day-to-day,” says Coombs, adding that workers will need to be prepared to acquire the new skills, but also, industry will need to be prepared to do what it takes to attract the next generation and keep them productive.

Learning and changing

Coombs says that it will be important for the process industries to learn from the consumer retail industries about the creation of new business and being open to new ways of doing things.

One major example is new ways to use the cloud. Amazon, Google and Apple have introduced hands-free smart speakers with voice recognition. These can respond to commands with an activation word (the Amazon Echo for example responds to the name “Alexa”), to order goods online, control connected home appliances, lighting and heating, carry out internet searches, play music and a number of other tasks. The technology can also allow such devices to make suggestions such as for other products a customer might want. Coombs says this is a prime example of a new way of doing business. As well as learning from consumer industries, industry could adapt and adopt such technology.

We think about the actions and the insights that the client wants, then worry about the specific data and calculations that we’re going to need

“For example, why is the plant manager having to go into work to log into a system to find out what’s going on? In the future, they could potentially be sitting at the breakfast table and say ‘Alexa, tell me the top five issues and risks which have been emerging overnight.’ Alexa comes back to say that there were five incidents overnight, or five risks, or such-and-such has happened, would you like me to call the team leaders together for a meeting? You start to change the whole way of operating from reactive to proactive,” says Coombs.

The way “big data” is used will also need to change. Asset- and energy-intensive companies already have a lot of data from their plants, and have been collecting it for years. They might try to combine it all, add in some machine learning and see what they can find out, but Coombs says this will not necessarily lead to added value. The Industry X.0 approach is different. “We think about the actions and the insights that the client wants, then worry about the specific data and calculations that we’re going to need,” says Coombs. “Big data isn’t just about volume.”

Accenture has surveyed executives at 900 large companies from 21 countries to find out about the implementation of new digital technologies and the benefits they were seeing. The results upon first glance do not look inspiring, with just 13% saying that they had seen new business growth and greater efficiency from investment in digital technologies. However, Accenture found that digital technologies have largely been implemented piecemeal. Using economic models, it assessed a range of technologies including virtual and augmented reality, big data analytics, digital twin technology, blockchain, and artificial intelligence, to see how full implementation could help. It estimates that chemical companies, for example, could increase their market capitalisation by an average of US$4.4bn. For energy companies, that figure was even higher, at US$16.4bn. Accenture says this shows how Industry X.0 can really provide benefits for companies which fully embrace it.

The important thing to remember, according to Coombs, is that the technology for Industry X.0 is largely mature and available, but what is new is the ways of implementing it.

 
Vision: Microsoft’s Hololens, used for Mixed Reality overlays of 3D models and data to support workers

Technology is afoot

The Accenture head office in London, UK has an Innovation Hub that showcases some of the latest technology that will contribute to Industry X.0 advances, and runs sessions for companies interested in finding out more. The technology on display changes fairly regularly. The company has 25 such centres around the world.

When The Chemical Engineer visited, the first bit of kit to be demonstrated was a ‘cobot’ (collaborative robot) called Sawyer, made by Rethink Robotics. Many assembly-line robots must be contained within cages for safety or kept well away from human workers, limiting their usefulness. However, cobots are designed to work alongside humans. Sawyer has been designed to carry out repetitive tasks, for example in a dangerous or sterile environment and can learn by doing.

Innovation Hub lead Abhishek Joshi showed how a human operator can manipulate Sawyer’s arm, which will remember what it has done and continue to do it, saving time on programming. Tasks can be carried out to 1 mm of accuracy.

The Connected Mine demonstration showed how Industry X.0 solutions could improve efficiency at mines, using a case study of a mine owned by Freeport McMoRan. Accenture’s Industry X.0 innovation leader, UK & Ireland, Mark Walton-Hayfield explained that its software can take into consideration all kinds of information, including what is being mined, from where in the mine, the quality of the ore, the performance of the crusher, truck operations and what is already available, and make transport, pricing and processing decisions. It can also incorporate video analytics to check worker health safety, for example if a worker is not wearing the correct protective equipment or is accessing areas they should not, and monitor worker performance for fatigue and what might be causing it.

A system designed for LNG looks at commercial and operational key performance indicators (KPIs) such as throughput to improve plant performance, for example to identify bottlenecks and assess the cost of dealing with them. At one client’s site, camera-carrying drones are flown around the plant to assess the acid gas removal process. Video analytics can be used to assess corrosion, and combined with the plant data, are used to decide what to replace and when to minimise throughput loss.

The Chemical Engineer was also shown a a Vuzix M300  headset, similar to Google Glass, with a tiny video projection screen which can be worn by connected workers, for example to run them through video tutorials on a repair or in an augmented reality situation, showing them sensor readouts. There was also connected smart tools – the connected kitbag – and an automatic handheld sensor to determine the dry matter content of sewage sludge. This is often sold as a commodity and its price is determined by the dry matter content. An instant way of measuring this is therefore very useful.

All of the technology showcased fits into the Industry X.0 ethos of gathering data and using it to create value for industry.

 
Sawyer: Can carry out tasks to 1 mm accuracy

Ditching the follower mentality

The process industries, Coombs says, have always had more of a follower mentality, but this will have to change. The process industries are going to have to innovate and change to survive in the new world. Traditionally, the process industries are very risk averse, naturally, with expensive kit and the potential for disaster if something goes wrong. In the X.0 future, the process industries will have to be more nimble.

“What’s interesting is the exponential rise of new technology now. It’s only a couple of years ago that if I’d said 3D printing, you’d have thought it was a gimmick. Now, thousands of Airbus components are 3D-printed. There are fighter jets with 3D-printed valves, because they’re better, stronger, lighter, more affordable etc,” says Coombs. “In a couple of years it’s gone from gimmick to normal.”

Traditionally, you wait until a system is very stable until you risk switching out, but clients now are realising that things are changing too fast to wait until everything is proven

Something like augmented reality isn’t always cost-effective yet, but in a couple of years, it likely will be. Companies experimenting with it now will be in a better position to exploit it in future. It’s this new environment the process industries will need to adapt to.

“Traditionally, you wait until a system is very stable until you risk switching out, but clients now are realising that things are changing too fast to wait until everything is proven. They want to know how to go from one way of working to another way of working in a sensible manner, and what they can do to be ready, faster, and capture the future value,” says Coombs.

“It’s making engineering more exciting actually, and the potential is brilliant.”

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