Shape your Foundry 4.0 with LIMS!

Your smart foundry 2020: Implement LIMS software for high-tech workflows!

Contextualization of smart foundry

2020 is the year of changes and digitalization. More than ever, a new generation of smart manufacturing is becoming a real need for the manufacturing field’s evolution. Laboratories must therefore adapt as well to the upcoming necessities concerning digitalization and automation.

Upcoming standards in this field of application center around Industry 4.0, among which Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Machine-to-Machine communication (M2M), Artificial Intelligence (AI) play a crucial role. We already talked about those specific topics in our previous articles to concentrate now on concrete examples of smart manufacturing and implementation of Industry 4.0 thanks to the installation of LIMS software.

This article will deal with the digitalization and automation of a foundry through LIMS, analyzing the aspects that will turn it into a smart foundry, or better said “Foundry 4.0”. LIMS means Laboratory Information Management System and is the ideal assistant for your Laboratory 4.0. Before considering the role of LIMS in the laboratory of a smart foundry, the characteristics of Foundry 4.0 should be explained.

The path to a smart foundry for Quality 4.0

“I would define Foundry 4.0 as anything to do with new emergent technologies, processes, procedures, and systems, that have a socio-economic impact on how foundries are currently operated,” affirms Hideki Gebken, engineering manager for Standard Manufacturers Services Limited (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada).

From this quote by Gebken, it is to understand that Foundry 4.0 is a subset of Industry 4.0 and centers around smart manufacturing, powerful computing force, connectivity, and digitalization of the physical world and workflows. Therefore, Foundry 4.0 considers many aspects such as robotics, artificial intelligence, data, process automation, and the digitalization of manufacturing and how this will affect employees’ interaction with each other, machinery, and customer relations. The core of Industry 4.0 also concerns a new perspective of quality for increased productivity, additive manufacturing, mass production, smart machines real-time data, which belong to the concept of Quality 4.0. LIMS can, in this case, depending on the specific laboratory’s needs, support, and improve the quality processes. Quick, good, cheap: this is how the high-tech workflows of Quality 4.0 in Industry 4.0 technology should be.

These applications require specific measurement methods such as optical emission spectroscopy (OES), X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF), spectroscopy, tensile test, and hardness test. Therefore, the right laboratory software can optimize, improve, and digitalize your measurement methods and laboratory workflow. This software is LIMS, and through its installation, it is not just possible to coordinate your analyses and sample management but also make your lab devices interact with each other.

Implement LIMS and upgrade to Laboratory 4.0 in your foundry!

Let us now take a more in-depth look at the characteristics of LIMS in a Foundry 4.0. As an example, we will use [FP]-LIMS, the solution designed by the German software developer Fink & Partner GmbH.

LIMS software belongs to the new generation of digital technologies and is a very flexible solution that can adapt to many laboratories with different necessities. [FP]-LIMS is crucial for sample collection and sample analyses, as well as documentation, statistical evaluation of all test orders, web access to the data, and fast reaction to problems in production through macros/workflow management. [FP]-LIMS can, therefore, support foundries’ quality management processes not just to improve and digitalize them but also to reduce errors and production costs. Everybody knows that quality has its price; therefore, predicting errors and intervene quickly can have a huge impact on the costs’ optimization.

[FP]-LIMS conforms to the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s new standards because it can connect various measurement devices between each other and with other instruments produced by different manufacturers. Thanks to its flexibility, [FP]-LIMS is an efficient, customizable solution; therefore, it is compatible with many measurement systems.

Since June 2020, [FP]-LIMS disposes of the certified interface to SAP S/4HANA®, the next generation business’s ERP system. Fink & Partner GmbH is also very sympathetic about customers’ concerns due to the pandemic of COVID-19 that affect the online storing of data and the security of IIoT-workflows. The company is developing an interface for the upcoming data security standards and a secure certificate with an implemented digital identity to store the laboratory data into a blockchain as a hash and avoid any falsification.

In summary, LIMS software is a reliable and flexible solution to shape your foundry laboratory into a real smart factory for optimized and digitalized workflows 4.0.