Based in Minto, New South Wales, Sevaan Group recently took a big step towards the digital transformation of its manufacturing operations with the installation of the ZoomFab Smart Factory machine monitoring system.

Founded in 1997 by husband and wife team Jim and Artemis Tzakos, Sevaan Group is a cutting-edge metal manufacturer that delivers complete, end-to-end metal fabrication and machining solutions for a range of industries including defence, aerospace, medical, mining, energy, transport and retail. Along the way, it has also played a part in some interesting one-off projects, from helping in the development of an armoured wetsuit to protect commercial divers, to the restoration of the iconic Anzac Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

Sevaan Group has always been quick to adopt the latest manufacturing technology, with a state-of-the-art workshop boasting capabilities such as CNC machining, laser cutting, marking and engraving, welding, sheet metal and steel fabrication, CNC punching, finishing and assembly. Therefore it’s no surprise that the company was one of the first in Australia to embrace Industry 4.0, the revolution currently sweeping manufacturing.

“We talk about Industry 4.0 as something very new, very contemporary, but we probably started the journey at least seven years ago, without even knowing it,” explains Artemis Tzakos, Director of Leadership Development & Marketing at Sevaan. “We’ve implemented small changes that are already making a positive impact in terms of workflow and better efficiency.”

One more recent change has been the installation of ZoomFab. Distributed in Australia by Complete Machine Tool Services, ZoomFab is a comprehensive Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform that uses automated machine data collection and advanced analytics to provide manufacturing businesses with critical operational and strategic facts. It can monitor machines of any type or brand, using non-invasive sensors to monitor machine operation, energy requirements and other important parameters.

For each type of technology, ZoomFab uses a different combination of sensors to collect the data. Installation of sensors is simple, with no need to collect data from machine controls, making them safe from computer viruses. Moreover, there is no need for operators to input data by hand – manual data entry is the most common source of discrepancies that can make monitoring efforts unreliable.

ZoomFab brings into focus key indicators that affect a business, helping to achieve budgeted machine utilisation and identifying the actual hourly rate for each manufacturing operation. This information, significant though it is, is not routinely available from a typical MRP/ERP system. Being cloud-based, ZoomFab can be accessed from any computer or mobile device, providing vital business information instantly, wherever the user is.

Supported by powerful analytics, ZoomFab provides real-time information about machine and work centre utilisation. Users can instantly see when machines are switched on or off, the delay between turning the machine on and starting the first job, and how much time the machine has been running and idling. With operational facts instantly available, ZoomFab enables managers to take a proactive approach in eliminating problems before they appear and potentially become a source of confrontation or crisis. This approach in turn allows continuous business improvement, resulting in better organisation, improved machine utilisation, resource savings and substantially increased profit.

With ZoomFab, users can see the revenue and profit generated from each machine and work centre. The system accurately calculates each operation’s hourly rates and compares budgeted and actual results, showing the user where money is being made or being lost. ZoomFab’s powerful analytical and modelling capabilities allow the user to model the effects of changing working hours, improve machine utilisation, and remove or add machinery. This information is instrumental when making decisions about reducing or increasing working shifts, timing investments or purchasing the right equipment.

For company owners, plant and equipment often represent the biggest investment they will make. ZoomFab Asset Module is a comprehensive management tool for storing and maintaining records about company assets, their acquisition, finance, insurance, warranty and disposal. Attaching notes, documents, files and images to each record is easy. Machine wear and tear is inevitable, and well-maintained machinery has a direct effect on profits; Asset Module also monitors warranty periods and supports scheduled maintenance and calibration.

ZoomFab sensors and gateways have a range of 400m and are pre-configured in ZoomFab’s technology centre prior to shipment. This makes installation at the customer’s site straightforward, without the need for on-site configuration and interruption to machine operation. Sensors and gateways communicate using 128-bit encryption on designated, region-specific radio frequencies. Gateways are connected to the internet using an Ethernet or cellular connection inside the factory.

For Sevaan Group, the installation of ZoomFab is helping the company streamline its operations and maintain its competitive edge. Artemis believes there’s a bright future ahead for companies who embrace Industry 4.0.

“We understand change can be difficult, but it also brings so much opportunity,” she says. “Industry 4.0 is innovation. It’s about solving bigger problems in creative ways. And that really excites me for the world.”