News & events

Glencore Nikkelverk selects Trimble’s Wedge for industrial data analytics

Glencore Nikkelverk, one of the largest nickel refineries in the western world, has selected Trimble’s Wedge industrial data analytics system to improve its process plant performance. 

Nikkelverk refinery has a high automation level and modern process information system and we are continuously generating a lot of valuable process data.  Integrating Wedge to our plant systems opens a new era of process optimization, troubleshooting disturbances, and development. This certainly represents a great example of our ongoing digitalization efforts,” said Kai Johansen, Chief Information Officer at Glencore Nikkelverk.

Wedge is powerful data-mining software that provides users with tools to visualize process and quality data, cleanse the data, compensate for process delays, analyze data, and diagnose dependencies and root causes. Wedge can be used widely at industrial plants; from site managers to process operators.

“The Wedge system has a lot of potential for our plant’s performance improvement by making the analytics work easier. It also enables a completely different level of process data utilization with current resources. One of the gains we expect from this is decreased chemical usage per tonn Ni produced, which is good for both our economy and our environmental footprint,” said Eirik Djuve, Process Metallurgist, Glencore Nikkelverk.

With customers in over 20 countries,  Glencore Nikkelverk is the first to deploy Trimble’s Wedge in Norway.

Game-changing industrial revolutions… are usually dead slow

Have you ever been told that in the near future there will be a game-changing system that will revolutionize the process industry? Indicating that things will evolve dramatically and quickly to the next level of performance?

We have.

But when we look back on the history of industrial development in the long-term perspective, the progress is not a series of sudden leaps.

Take steady steps towards better processes

Of course, changes can sometimes happen quickly. Usually as a consequence of a catastrophe or brutal distraction leading to a performance drop and chaos in the short term. These unwanted events can accelerate development, as change becomes necessary for survival.

But you don’t want to wait for a catastrophe to force you to change, do you?

The sustainable way to develop is to do things a little bit better, every day. In this more subtle method, you won’t necessarily see notable results in a day or a week, but you can make a big difference in a year or two. It’s a common misconception to overestimate the impact of change in the short term and underestimate the value of slower, long-term development.

Examples of industrial revolution in process control

One of the early breakthroughs for process control were the water control valves in the 3rd Century BCE. PID (proportional-integral-derivative) control was developed in the 1910s, and computers started to control industrial processes in the 1970s. Today, we are still using valves, PID controllers, and computers, and the process control market continues to grow.

Along with process control and automation development, process analytics is also evolving as part of continuous performance improvement. More and more data is analyzed faster than ever, and data analytics is also more and more automatic. Yet, there are principles that have remained the same for decades, centuries, or even millennia.

Another great example of slow revolution is the huge improvement of energy efficiency in the process industry that has taken place in Europe in the last 40 years. Very little has happened overnight, but very much in the longer term, almost unnoticed. 

Every step towards better performance matters, you just have to take the steps.


Contact Wedge data analysis expertsWant more insights?

Our sales team is full of data analysis experts ready to help you. Learn more about Wedge industrial data analytics tool.

Meet us at AVEVA PI World in Amsterdam

We would like to welcome you to join us at AVEVA PI World in Amsterdam May 16-19, 2022.

AVEVA PI World offers a great opportunity to network and learn from the extensive AVEVA and PI System communities. AVEVA have acquired OSISoft, so you might know it better by that name.

At AVEVA PI World you will have a great opportunity to meet our industrial data analytics experts Jürgen Missel, Matti Häkkinen, Teemu Möykkylä, and Jari Suihkonen to discuss if Wedge could be the system for your process improvement.

Meet us at TAPPICon in Charlotte

Trimble Wedge is sponsoring the TAPPICon event which is an in-person event for the paper making industry. TAPPICon will take in place in Charlotte, North Carolina April 30 – May 4, 2022.

We are also excited to announce that WestRock will be presenting peer-reviewed findings about Trimble Industrial Data Analytics (Wedge) at TAPPICon May 3, 8:00-10:00 during the Paper Fundamentals track. The presentation is under title: “Determining Operating Variables Which Impact Internal Fiber Bonding Using Wedge Statistical Analysis Methods”.

Looking forward to meeting you at TAPPICon!

How to build a data-driven culture at your mill?

Often, when speaking with a prospective customer, we learn that they are struggling with the chicken or egg dilemma: whether to invest in data tools or build a data-driven culture first. The customers’ line of thinking often is that, without a data-driven culture, any investment into tools and capabilities goes to waste. Intuitively, the argument sounds right, but does it stand up to scrutiny?

We think that culture and tools are equally important, and they can and should progress simultaneously. Gartner study “10 Ways CDOs Can Succeed in Forging a Data-Driven Organization” takes a very similar view. It lists ‘data-driven culture’ and ‘advanced analytics capability’ as the two most critical elements when building data and analytics team success. Advanced analytics capability can be further split into employees’ capabilities and supporting tools.

So, we claim that a data-driven culture is a sum of three things:

  1. Data-driven decision-making
  2. Employees with data literacy
  3. Solutions that enable easy use of data

Data-driven decision making starts from the top

Data-driven decision making is easily led by example: when you make decisions, favor data-backed arguments. This message will quickly echo through the organization and lead to a situation where people have data to support their ideas and requests. The ultimate goal is naturally that people instinctively start to utilize data when doing small optimization decisions on a daily basis.

When evaluating data-backed arguments, it is worth remembering that anything can be proved by facts. The more data you have, the easier it becomes to misuse the data to serve the conclusions you want to draw. This highlights the importance of an open mind, transparency, and reproducibility when conducting analyses. 

Another word of warning: as a leader, do not demand unrealistically detailed data-based evidence of everything. If you want to turn down an idea, do it, but don’t use ever-continuing data-based evidence asking as an excuse to suffocate ideas that you are not enthusiastic about. 

It is crucial that employees learn to “speak data”

Data literacy is the ability to read, write, and communicate data in context. This includes an understanding of data sources, analytical methods and techniques applied, as well as the ability to describe the use case, the application, and the resulting value.

How to foster data literacy, then? Training and easy-to-use tools help. Sometimes one needs to recruit new skills. Still, curiosity is the single most pivotal success factor, as curious and creative people tend to dive into data, play with it, fail, fail again, and finally succeed in turning the data into information and actions. People without the right mindset will never become data champions, regardless of how literate they are.

Data solutions must fit your needs

Don’t get fooled if somebody argues it can be done in Excel. You may have one wizard in your team who can, but it will never scale and become a culture.

The top 3 things that kill motivation for data usage are: 

  1. Data is not easily available, it is siloed and/or of low quality 
  2. Data processing is slow and cumbersome
  3. There is no easy way to get meaningful results and findings from the data.

If you are considering investing in a new data utilization tool, stop for a second and think about what type of data you need to study: Is it event or time-series data? How is the raw data quality? Does the data contain delays? Would you like to study profile data as well? Is your process continuous, a set of batches, or a hybrid of the two? Do you want to keep the data in your own servers, or is a cloud-based solution ok?

Once you know what you want to analyze, list available tools. When reviewing the tools, make sure that the new tool provides a smooth and flexible workflow, intuitive and visual user interface, and analysis capabilities ranging all the way from basic analytics to advanced problem-solving. And last, make sure that your team gets good training and support during the implementation.

 


Contact Wedge data analysis expertsWant more insights?

Our sales team is full of data analysis experts ready to help you. Learn more about Wedge industrial data analytics tool.

Pfleiderer expands its Wedge use to the Gütersloh site

Pfleiderer is a leading manufacturer of high-quality engineered wood, laminates, and resin-based adhesive systems. Headquartered in Neumarkt, Germany, Pfleiderer employs around 2200 people, mainly at five sites in Germany and one for adhesive systems in Poland.

Pfleiderer has been using Wedge very successfully at its Baruth site for years, and now Wedge is also used at the Gütersloh site. 

The primary aim of using Wedge is complete process optimization – from the preparation to the finishing of high-quality wood-based materials. In addition, MFT (material flow tracking) and the analysis of downtime data are part of how Wedge is used at Pfleiderer.

Pfleiderer attaches particular importance to sustainability, and Wedge plays its part be providing fast problem detection and troubleshooting. Wedge is very easy to use and therefore accessible to a large group of users.

Will engineers be the mammoths of tomorrow?

Work has always changed. We have had work revolutions from hunter-gatherer societies to agriculture, industrialization, and the information age. During the past few decades, information work has increased dramatically, and it continues to grow. Automation and algorithms* have already replaced some of the information work humans do, and this development will continue. And that is just great!

But what does this trend mean for engineers? Will engineers soon be on display in glass cases in museums, as the mammoths of tomorrow?

Automation is an engineer’s best friend

There aren’t too many of us who absolutely love laborious and time-consuming routine tasks like typing, copying, and sorting numbers on spreadsheets. This type of work should be automated whenever possible. We find it almost insulting that engineers’ brains are used to do work that automation could do. In fact, in many cases, routine tasks can be performed better, faster, and with higher quality when automated.

So, it is a great relief for engineers that they can get rid of “dummy” work and utilize advanced technologies to help and support their creative work. 

Creativity and curiosity make a great engineer

Engineers at their best are curious and creative. They don’t need detailed rules, definitions, or instructions to get a job done, like a computer does. Actually, micromanaging kills creative problem-solving and innovation.

Allowing creativity to bloom brings way better results and makes it possible to create something new. 

Skillful engineers excel when something is happening for the first time, and when everything is not going as expected or planned. When real brainwork is needed.

Creative problem-solvers are always needed

The type of brain work that a great engineer does will never disappear; on the contrary, the demand will increase. 

Problems are renewable resources when aiming for better performance. When automation and algorithms are used and technology becomes increasingly complex, more complicated problems arise. This allows engineers to focus on what they do best: creative problem solving.

So, hooray for automation, algorithms, and engineers – we need all of you! Now, and for ever after. 

 

*In this article, we view automation and algorithms as a broad concept: any technology that performs a job or task without human thinking, intelligence, or physical intervention. It can be a simple formula in Excel or a set of rules in software, neural networks, artificial intelligence, machine learning, quantum computing, intelligent robotics, etc.

 


Contact Wedge data analysis expertsWant more insights?

Our sales team is full of data analysis experts ready to help you. Learn more about Wedge industrial data analytics tool.

New customer: MM Kotkamills Boards Oy in Finland

We are delighted to welcome MM Kotkamills Boards Oy, our newest Wedge customer. After a successful pilot phase, they decided to continue to enhance their innovative board machine BM2 performance with the help of Trimble’s industrial data analytics system, Wedge.

The Wedge process data analysis tool is a great step change for MM Kotkamills for a more systematic approach to improve quality consistency and faster troubleshooting. It’s easy to use, which enables a large group of people from engineers to operators to utilize the program.
 –Riku Suurnäkki,  Production Director

MM Kotkamills produces ecological wood products, pulp, CTMP, saturating kraft paper, and fully recyclable barrier boards. In the first phase, Wedge will be utilized in board production. The annual capacity of the board machine is 400,000 tons of food-safe consumer boards that can replace plastics used in packaging.

TAPPI Journal article about utilizing Wedge

A peer-reviewed article about Wedge is published in the November issue of the TAPPI Journal. The article “Determining operating variables that impact internal fiber bonding using Wedge statistical analysis methods” is written by our valued customer, WestRock.

The article is for TAPPI members only, but the abstract is available for everyone.

Read more >>

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