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5 min. read
Monica Negri
Last update: 10-05-2022

Negrini Srl builds Industry 4.0 equipment with remote access, data logging and alarm management

The application of an Industry 4.0 solution has enabled the Modena-based company to develop a unique product on the market: an adaptive grab that optimises its operation in real-time, based on the operations carried out and the materials handled.

The Italian industrial sector has struggled for years to find the push in the right direction to fully enter the fourth industrial revolution. The Transition 4.0 incentive plan really got the ball rolling, as it clearly showed machine builders the potential of Industrial IoT.

Negrini Srl, a leader in the construction of grabs for harbours, maritime and construction sectors, picked up the interest in tax benefits from its customers. This was just the starting point for what has become a new phase of industrial design and business planning implemented by owner Massimo Negrini: ''The desire was not to limit ourselves to tax benefits, but to develop a useful and functional device. This is how we achieved a unique solution in the market''. 

Massimo Negrini from Negrini Srl with the adaptive grabs they produce Massimo Negrini from Negrini Srl with the adaptive grabs they produce

$25.000 penalties in case of downtime

In the construction of material handling equipment, the manufacturer is confronted with design, economic and service constraints. The grabs of Negrini Srl - orange peel grabs, clamshell grabs, diaphragm wall grabs and draglines - are built according to specific criteria determined by the material that the customer has to handle. The heart of the grab is the hydraulic power unit, which drives the pistons that open and close the device for the number of cycles required for loading and unloading. 

Without information from the operation of the equipment, the manufacturer doesn't have accurate information about the actual critical operating thresholds. He has to provide high safety margins for the components, the energy supply and the operating pressure of the hydraulic power unit, to ensure maximum performance throughout the duration of operations, without interruption. Downtime is expensive: in the harbour sector, penalties can be as high as $25,000 per day per ship for the manufacturer responsible for the downtime. 

A unique application of machine learning

Negrini Srl has included the IXON Cloud solution to make its equipment more efficient, offer better services to its customers and stand out from its competitors. The IXrouter installed on the grab collects real-time data from the Siemens PLC and transmits it to IXON's IIoT platform. 

The IXON solution is an integral part of the equipment, interacting with the grab in both readings and settings: based on predefined intervals, the grab is reprogrammed as forces and speeds change, depending on the operations it's performing. This is a particular application of machine learning that allows Negrini Srl to supply the only adaptive grab on the market and to be a partner of the major players in the harbour, steel and construction sectors on the Italian and European markets: Arvedi, Acciaierie d'Italia, Italgru, Gottwald (Konecranes group), Liebherr and I.P.M. from Pasquale Divella.

Industry 4.0 adaptive grabs for the harbour sector Industry 4.0 adaptive grabs for the harbour sector

Remote troubleshooting and collaboration with customers

Massimo Negrini emphasises the simplicity and reliability of the IXON Cloud solution for remote assistance activities. In a particular emergency situation they received an alarm from their customer Arvedi, the largest player in the steel industry in Italy. Negrini was able to remotely access the machine via the IXON app to intervene from his smartphone. He corrected the value of the hydraulic pressure of a grab in operation and solved the problem. The data logging feature allows the company to record and store process data for up to 7 years, far exceeding the data retention requirement outlined in the Industry 4.0 Italian regulation, which is currently 3 years.

IXON alarm management IXON alarm management

Together with alarms and notifications, the company can support the customer with just-in-time scheduled maintenance activities, and notify them when attention thresholds (low oil) or critical thresholds (boiling oil) are reached, before critical grab components are irreparably damaged.

Monitoring data on the functioning of the equipment has allowed Negrini Srl to develop excellent collaborations with its customers. They appreciate the assistance and maintenance services offered by the manufacturer, to the advantage of a generalised efficiency. This was also the case for their customer I.P.M. who has found high and unaltered performance of the equipment, with negligible power consumption and a wide consumption curve, without peaks or harmful stress on the electrical system.

Next challenge: further reduce energy consumption

One of the main challenges manufacturers are facing is the cost of energy. For years, Negrini’s plant has been equipped with photovoltaic panels that cover most of the energy needs of production activities. But the need to reduce the energy impact goes far beyond this and affects the entire supply chain. The possibility of collecting and analysing large quantities of data provides valuable information for the design of increasingly high-performance products and services, with a significant reduction in costs and waste. 

Thanks to the possibility of monitoring and optimising the operation of the grab in real time, energy consumption is only as high as necessary. In concrete terms, this means a reduction (from 30% to 70%) in energy absorption and costs and stress on the components and the hydraulic power unit of the grab, as well as a significant improvement in the customer's equipment (OEE - Overall Equipment Effectiveness), starting with the electrical equipment. 

The result: equipment that works harder, works longer, costs the manufacturer less and provides better service to customers. Massimo Negrini has no doubts: continuous innovation is his goal and IIoT is a key element in achieving it.