What is Retrofit?
A retrofit solution is getting more and more attention to the public as a cost saving solution for incorporating the Industry 4.0 application in the existing facility. By definition, "Retrofit" simply means to upgrade an equipment, a machine or a system by putting in place something new or changing a part or part of it. The idea is to drastically improve the functionality of the old or implement the latest technology at the least expense. In fact, the cost to jump in the bandwagon of the Industry 4.0, for example, the digitalization of the manufacturing process, is too high for manufacturers across the industry. For many who are lured into the opportunity to turn upside down of the slow, inefficient, and less sophisticated factory with much faster and efficient industry 4.0 technology and who are worried about the expenses come with it, the retrofit solution seems to be the reasonable choice.
Even though the retrofit solution makes an economical sense for manufacturers across industry, the implementation of it has been rather passive in recent years. On the other hand, many of the users were not able to afford the "cost-saving" solution. The large-sized enterprises are no longer an exception ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, many Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are faced with technical difficulties as they show lack of experience and knowledge in incorporating the advanced technology. As SMEs make up more than 80% of the manufacturing industry, it is a serious problem. The unexpected economic downturn and the reality of SMEs have now called for an action to those who are pushing the Industry 4.0 agenda.
Local Trend: Retrofit
Korea Association of Machinery Industry (KAMI), a local representative of manufacturing companies, took a further step to lay out the picture of reality. KAMI published a survey result as follows: 38% of 315 manufacturers are still using the equipment aged more than a decade for the core of production process and 9.8% of them doing so with the equipment aged more than 20 years. Not only that, only 20% of them replaced the old equipment with new ones in the last five years. Surprisingly, the manufacturing facilities in the automotive industry - where many people seem to believe that the responsiveness to "old" is fastest - turned out to be most passive in terms of retrofitting, refurbishing, and revamping the equipment out of all other industries. As KAMI addressed the situation of the manufacturing industry today, it is important that people who are pushing the Industry 4.0 agenda to realize why many manufacturers were not able to make a swift change to new transformation as opposed to why many of them are not doing so.
With that being said, the retrofit solution comes again the place for the discussion. Simply put, it is only plausible solution for many manufacturers to take advantage of Industry 4.0 application. Many industry experts believe that it takes only a few years for the investment on retrofit solution to pay off. Going forward, the retrofit solution can reduce the cost of maintenance as "a dose of indsutry 4.0 industry 4.0 injection" on the equipment by retrofitting the parts can prevent the failure of machine or the machine downtime. Korea Foundation of Machinery Industry, and independent organization for machine industry, supports the claim by providing the following evidences : 1) Manufactures were able to increase the precision rate by 9.65times, on average 2) Manufacturers were able to increase the daily operating time by 54%, 3) The defect rate was reduced by 8.31% and 4) The average production time and sales revenue have increased for all participants. In a nutshell, it is suffice to say that it only makes sense to shed the light on retrofit solution for many to benefit from it.
Retrofit solution in Balluff : BCM multi-functional Condition Monitoring Sensor
In response to new technology trends and market needs, Balluff introduced a retrofit solution based on intelligent sensor system : BCM sensor. It is a condition monitoring sensor with a size of a thumb that can detect physical variables, such as three-axis vibration, contact temperature, humidity and ambient air pressure, and process data directly on board without any additional external processors. The user configures the standard values directly in the sensor and can conveniently parameterize it via IO-Link. Based on this status data, it provides information in real time and ensures proper control and utilization of the production process. This reduces the operating costs and optimizes productivity at the same time by detecting early malfunctional symptoms in the machinery. Also, the sensor can save the maintenance cost by preventing the unexpected machine breakdowns. The retrofit solution that Balluff offers can secure transparency, flexibility and control by visualizing processes without a large investment.
For more information about Balluff Condition Monitoring Sensors, please check our website at www.balluff.com.