Dish, FN America, Rolls Royce, & Delta Bravo Report on IIoT/Industry 4.0

Dish ReceiverDish, FN America, Rolls Royce, & Delta Bravo Report on IIoT/Industry 4.0

The OpExChange live broadcast last week featured report-outs from three tenured OpExChange members on their Industry 4.0 and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) activities. Each of these companies are at different stages of implementation. Dish Network from Spartanburg, FN America from Columbia, and Rolls Royce from Aiken all presented their current progress and future plans with regards to digital transformation.

Delta Bravo, a Data Value and Artificial Intelligence “Accelerator,” also joined the broadcast. They shared real-world case studies and lessons learned in helping over 40 manufacturers optimize both top-line and bottom-line results in machine learning and AI.

Dish has been an OpExChange member for twelve years. Their 317K sq. foot facility in Spartanburg is one of two plants in the company that perform reverse logistics for satellite receivers and accessories in the United States. Dish is a disrupter and innovator in the Pay-Tv industry and is now disrupting the wireless industry with a national build-out of a 5G cellular network.

Rich Bacon is the Engineering Maintenance Manager for both the Spartanburg facility and a 250K sq. foot distribution center in Suwanee, Georgia. Over the past decade, Dish has shared their progressive lean journey with the OpExChange. Their continuous flow of product from receiving through production to product pack-out is reliant not only upon the people performing the work but also the equipment transporting the product. An unplanned downtime event disrupts the flow of the product through that operation as well as the sequential operations tied to it.

Rich and his team used “do-it-yourself” ingenuity to piece together a system using off-the-shelf sensors, gateways, and software to incorporate a system that is used to detect and predict motor failure. By collecting and analyzing this data, they became better at predicting when motors would fail. Replacing $20 of bearings would potentially save the $300 motor and more importantly, the cost of the associated downtime.

Dish also created a “Robocall” system that detects conveyor jams and slowdowns. The system will not only communicate a message to the maintenance team that alerts them to the condition. It also supplies video footage that aids in determining root cause. The hardware for this system was relatively inexpensive at $354.

FN is an eleven-year member of the OpExChange. Their roughly 250 square foot facility in Columbia broke ground in 1981 to manufacture machine guns for the U.S. Military. The facility has 150+ conventional and CNC precision equipment and also houses an indoor firing range. The 500+ member team is intensely proud to be part of a company with such an honorable purpose. FN was established in 1889 in the Liege region of Belgium to “create game-changing firearms that would be used to secure freedom around the world.”

Columbia continues to enjoy a lot of tenured employee at its production facility since its start in 1981.

Anish Kapoor, Director of Manufacturing Operations, and Jason Britton, Director of Information Technology began their live presentation with a video that showed why FN is “Legendary:”

FN Herstal, the parent company of FN America, has been pursuing Ind. 4.0 for about 2 years. Their goal is to utilize this technology to support their value creation model. This model focuses both on bottom-line growth, through productivity and quality, and on top-line growth, through flexibility and agility. Anish shared the basis for this model along with the “Risk Mitigation Layer.”

Jason presented the architecture behind their Industry 4.0 strategy. Their North American plants are aligning with their parent company’s data schema. Both Jason and Anish emphasized that they are ensuring that their implementation supports their value creation model with a business case.

Anish emphasized that it is vital to have both the bottom-up (operator interface) and top-down (process analytics) in the IIoT implementation. He shared some examples of connecting directly to newer equipment as well as retrofitting older equipment with PLCs to enable communication. He also showed some good examples of visual dashboards for the production team.

Rolls Royce is a seven-year member of the OpExChange. Their 330K square foot facility in Aiken, SC assembles, tests, and paints exceptionally large diesel engines. Kirsten Korte, interim senior manufacturing engineering manager, led the discussion for Rolls Royce in today’s event.

Rolls Royce began their journey into Industry 4.0 in January of 2018. Kirsten was fortunate to represent their North American plant in this corporate initiative from the beginning. Prior to attending a conference in Q2 of 2018, Kirsten had never heard of “Industry 4.0.” Rolls Royce realized there was vast opportunity in digital transformation and told their teams, “Let’s Do Stuff.”

Some of the “stuff” they went after initially was exciting and new – augmented reality with google glasses, wearable scanners to assist with fatigue and ergonomics, and virtual reality. They involved their operators, engineers, managers – a good cross section to see where the real opportunities lied.

Through these focus groups, they learned that although there was great opportunity and excitement from these efforts, a more sustainable approach with a common vision was needed. They also learned that collaboration was essential – not just at the local level between departments but also across facilities. They discovered that this implementation was less about the technology and more about culture and people. Navigating this initiative globally was challenging. The directive could not just be pushed without considering the local cultures. Kirsten stated that “unless this technology is solving a problem that the people can relate to it will not be embraced.”

The Rolls Royce strategy is to tie these elements together with the digital thread to create a digital twin of each of their products. This will be used to predict engine failures before they occur.

Delta Bravo is frequently referred to as a Data Value and Artificial Intelligence “Accelerator.” They assist companies in making business sense of data using advanced analytics and algorithms. Rick Oppedisano, President and CEO, gave the OpExChange team a “Reality Check.”

Manufacturers already generate a mountain of data and that volume is growing with increased digitalization. A key point in Rick’s presentation was that clean data is essential – “This is what matters most and is the #1 challenge for business seeking this capability.”

The Delta Bravo system automates this process by cleansing, correlating and joining data from multiple sources and creating a data repository for analysis and visualization.

Machine Learning and AI make sense when a company wants to take a more proactive rather than a reactive stance to “threshold” events. These technologies make it possible to improve both forecasting and anomaly detection.

Rick showed application examples of how improved forecasting improved bottom-line results at three local facilities: predictive quality improvement at a silicone manufacturer, reduced scrap percentage at a hot metals company, and reduced inventory at a Top Tier Automotive Supplier. In each of these applications, the pilot and implementation occurred in a matter of a few months.

Anomaly detection is another key benefit of machine learning and AI. Rather than wait for thresholds of failures to be reached, anomalies in the data can be detected that predict a future outcome. This allows the organization to take proactive action before the failure occurs rather than reactive action at the time of occurrence. The anomaly detection algorithms process a large amount of data and builds correlation to answer the question, “Could we have seen this coming?”

Rick took us into a deeper dive into their collaboration with Rolls Royce project with Kirsten. Over 2B data points and 5,000 engines were input and cleansed down to 200M relevant data points. The system then built a correlation analysis between multiple dependent variables and failure outcomes and determined the relevant variables.

The system now determines correlations and creates relationship rules “on the fly.” This is the machine learning feature of AI. The process is paused when a certain combination of anomalies is detected, and the operator is instructed on which preventive action to take.

This system now predicts engine failures up to thirty minutes in advance and the facility has recognized over a 10X project ROI.

Rick cautioned companies that are taking a holistic, expensive approach to entering the industrial revolution. “Don’t try to boil an ocean, start small. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get started.” Focus on an iterative approach that proves the capability and drives value quickly. Even small companies can get started now in data analytics and artificial intelligence. Get started now!

The industrial revolution is occurring at a significantly faster pace than any of the previous three. For a manufacturing company to remain relevant, it will have to be part of this transformation in some capacity. Those that enter this earlier will realize significant competitive advantages.

The three OpExChange members presenting today are all inserting themselves into Industry 4.0 – through education, trials, collaboration, and corporate strategy. (It should be noted that all three are particularly active and benefiting from OpExChange collaboration!)

Delta Bravo showed that you do not need to “try to boil an ocean” and address everything under the Industry 4.0 umbrella. Start with something now and get some results!

OpExChange members received more detailed information from each presenter as well as copies of the presentations and webinar recording.

The OpExChange is a peer-to-peer network of companies in South Carolina dedicated to learning and growing together. Member companies host events and share practical examples of industrial automation, lean manufacturing improvements, and leadership development. It is an invaluable resource to member companies that provide access to others who are on similar improvement journeys. (any site that joins from October through December will have all 2020 fees waived.)

If you are interested in joining, contact Mike Demos ( or visit the OpExChange website:

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