HML is a member of the worldwide Hosokawa Micron Group founded in Osaka in 1916. Today, it is a world leader in providing process solutions in the fields of powder and particle processing technology and blown film technology.

The project - Hosokawa Gen4 - introduced Siemens’ MindSphere IoT operating system to HML’s manufacturing facility in Runcorn, Cheshire. Using the digital technology platform HML, a global leader in powder processing equipment, was able to integrate assets across the factory to remotely monitor the performance of equipment and plan. This included real time values and trending for key measurements, diagnostic alerts and warnings of problems detected in machinery.

For customers, HML’s in-house app ‘Hosokawa ReMs’ now allows remote monitoring of the performance of Hosokawa equipment and plant, including real time values and trending for key measurements, diagnostic alerts and warnings of problems detected in machinery. App users have varied options on how they want to use it, including a servitisation model from HML on providing solutions for any data anomalies that may show in the analysis.The deployment resulted in HML’s customers reporting around a 15% improvement in uptime, capacity gains of between 10 to 12% and reductions of energy of more than 10%.

Iain Crosley, managing director at HML, explains: “Since the start of our journey of advanced digitalisation in our factory in the last three to four years, we have grown our own output significantly year-on-year.

“Not only have we digitalised our own production factory but the machines we deliver to our customers are of higher digital value, primed for better productivity.”

The Hosokawa Gen4 project was launched in 2018, as Crosley recalls: “Our partnership with Siemens is over two decades old and we have been using their control and instrumentation - the Siemens PLCs - in all our products. Having our own Gen4 products, we remained both competitive and digitally viable for our customer base. But we wanted to enter the next phase of digitalisation. This is when we found Siemens’ MindSphere, which we realised would give us the complete architecture to provide a holistic solution to our customers.”

At HML, the machine and processes are controlled through Siemens’ programmable logic controller (PLC) and, in some cases, using supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) or Distributed Control System (DCS). To enhance its processes, an in-house intelligence solution was being used to extract and analyse the data, and improve performance. But HML’s management realised that to stay competitive and make deeper inroads into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it was important to keep up with big data and analytics demands.

The solution was Siemens’ cloud-based internet of things (IoT) open operating system MindSphere. This connects the entire environment of products, plants, systems and machines, enabling the harnessing of data supported by advanced analytics. In addition, it gives access to a growing number of apps and a dynamic development ecosystem. MindSphere works with all popular web browsers.

“Our decision to use Siemens was simple really. Just like us, they are a process engineering company and so they understand the requirements and problems in transferring process data especially, high volumes of data,” Crosley continues.

“Add to this the challenge of cyber-attacks, which is an important aspect of any new technology and we were rest assured that Siemens had in place best-in-class industrial cyber security.”

Siemens’ MindSphere offers access to maximum data extraction and powerful data analysis and visualisation, giving manufacturers new insights into making changes with real productivity impact. HML set key performance indicators to maximise data analysis, taking in: quality; energy usage; environmental conditions (internal and external); plus process parameters and the factors affecting them.

“We work on three levels: understanding the data, monitoring it and controlling it,” Crosley goes on. “The methodology of data acquisition and the manner of using it have changed and become more refined, allowing better production output decisions.”

With the integration of its assets across the factory in Runcorn, HML was able to upgrade its existing in-house app ‘Hosokawa ReMs’ to remotely monitor the performance of Hosokawa equipment and plant, with its customers benefiting.

Ian Elsby, head of chemicals UK & Ireland, Siemens Digital Industries, adds: “Our partnership with Hosokawa has always produced tremendous results and this is purely because we share best practice and learn from each other. We are constantly looking for new solutions to create a better and digitally superior product for their customers.

“Industry 4.0 is constantly evolving, and so is our alliance. We are able to bring to the table the challenges from the varied verticals we work in and share the outcomes of positioning in other industries, helping Hosokawa harness that knowledge to boost their digitalisation process.”