Foundry 4.0: Implementing LIMS Software for High-Tech Workflows

2020 is the year of digitalization and change. A new generation of smart manufacturing is growing the need for the manufacturing field's evolution more than ever before. Therefore, laboratories must also adapt to the upcoming necessities concerning automation and digitization. This article will discuss the automation and digitization of a foundry via LIMS, analyzing the aspects which will turn it into a smart foundry, or “Foundry 4.0”.

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The upcoming standards in this field of application center around Industry 4.0, among which Machine-to-Machine communication (M2M), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) play a key part.

Previous articles have already outlined those standards, thanks to the installation of LIMS software, concrete examples of smart manufacturing and implementation of Industry 4.0, and specifically of Foundry 4.0, can now be demonstrated.

LIMS stands for Laboratory Information Management System and is the ideal assistant for your Laboratory 4.0. Yet, the characteristics of Foundry 4.0 should be explained before considering the role of LIMS in the laboratory of a smart foundry.

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," Engineering Manager for Standard Manufacturers Services Limited (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), Hideki Gebken states.

After reading this quote by Gebken, it is understood that Foundry 4.0 is a subset of Industry 4.0 and is based on powerful computing force, smart manufacturing, connectivity, and digitalization of physical workflows.

So, Foundry 4.0 considers numerous aspects like artificial intelligence, robotics, data, process automation, and the digitalization of manufacturing and how this will influence employees' interaction with each other, machinery, and customer relations.

The core of Industry 4.0 also concerns a new perspective of quality for smart machines real-time data, additive manufacturing, better productivity, mass production, which belong concept of Quality 4.0. in this instance LIMS can depending on the specific laboratory’s requirements, support, and enhance the quality processes.

Cheap, quick, good: this is how the high-tech workflows of Quality 4.0 in Industry 4.0 technology should be. Foundry 4.0 is made up of specific measurement techniques like X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF), optical emission spectroscopy (OES), tensile test, spectroscopy, and hardness test.

So, the right laboratory software can optimize, improve, and digitalize laboratory workflow and measurement techniques. LIMS is this software and through its installation, it is not just possible to coordinate sample management and analyses, but also to make lab devices interact with each other.

Implement LIMS for an Upgrade to Laboratory 4.0 in a Foundry

An in-depth look at the characteristics of LIMS in a Foundry 4.0 is included below. The solution designed by the German software developer Fink & Partner GmbH, [FP]-LIMS, is used as an example. LIMS software belongs to the new generation of digital technologies and is an extremely flexible solution that can adapt to many laboratories with different requirements.

[FP]-LIMS is vital for sample collection analyses, in addition to documentation, web access to the data,  statistical evaluation of all test orders, and fast reaction to problems in production through macros/workflow management.

Therefore, [FP]-LIMS can support foundries’ quality management processes not just to enhance and digitize them but also to decrease production costs and errors. Quality has its price, therefore predicting errors and intervening quickly can have a huge effect on the costs’ optimization.

As it can connect various measurement devices between each other and with other instruments created by different manufacturers, [FP]-LIMS conforms to the Fourth Industrial Revolution's new standards.

[FP]-LIMS is an efficient, customizable solution due to its flexibility; so it is compatible with many measurement systems, which is what is required from Foundry 4.0.

[FP]-LIMS has disposed of the certified interface to SAP S/4HANA®, the next generation business's ERP system as of June 2020. Fink & Partner GmbH is also very sympathetic about customers' concerns because of the pandemic of COVID-19, which affects the online storing of data and the security of IIoT-workflows.

An interface is also being developed 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 to avoid any falsification.

To summarize, LIMS software is a flexible, reliable solution that can be utilized to turn your foundry laboratory into a real smart factory for digitalized and optimized Workflows 4.0.

This information has been sourced, reviewed, and adapted from materials provided by Fink & Partner GmbH.

For more information on this source, please visit Fink & Partner GmbH.

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