Digital twin

OPTIMIZED PRODUCTION PROCESSES that save time and money, improve transparency and increase efficiency – an endless quest for cigarette manu­facturers. Hauni now provides digital solutions for all these areas.

With PROM (Primary Optimization Management), a tool based on the idea of the digital twin has been developed. This is a virtual environment that models the customer’s production line using real-time data. The digital platform is constantly fed with data from ongoing plant operations – including information that spans the divide between Green Leaf Threshing (GLT), Primary and Secondary.

These three areas run separately during the cigarette manufacturing process. “The closer the data exchange between the three areas, the better our chances of finding the optimum machine settings when conditions change,” says Sven Siedhoff, Head of Automation. 

PROM is responsible for managing this data exchange. The tool continuously records and evaluates data. When it identifies potential for improvements, it suggests possible optimization strategies. For example, if the ambient temperature in the Primary changes during the day, PROM will  propose adjustments to the parameter settings for the production process. This guarantees a consistently high quality product. “The system can adjust the machine settings autonomously, if this has been agreed with the customer in advance,” explains Siedhoff. If the system detects problems in the Secondary, for example, it will respond to them and suggest corrective mea sures to the operator in the Primary. Moreover, PROM can simulate and evaluate the effects of changes in the process before they are made. Previously, this was only possible after expensive testing.

 

Know-how that never leaves

 

The operator receives suggested actions and check lists, e.g. on their mobile device, which provide tailored support in the specific situation. This is where PROM has the potential to solve an age-old problem: people get older and eventually retire – often taking their expertise with them. PROM will never retire.

To generate the promised level of optimization, systems like PROM depend on a constant supply of relevant production data. In other words, they depend on a high level of trust and partnership between Hauni and its customers. Hauni contributes the full spectrum of its know-how. “We sit down with the customer and define the framework for the partnership,” says Siedhoff. “In every case, PROM is precisely tailored to the customer’s needs. For example, if the customer doesn’t want the system to change settings autonomously, we will take this into account and simply communicate the suggested values to the operator.”

 

Starting with a minimum viable product

 

From the moment Hauni presented its initial concept, PROM  attracted strong interest from customers. Since then, Hauni has refined the tool and can now work together with customers on developing a “minimum viable product”. This will lay the foundations for future advancements. “Our calculations suggest that optimally adjusted equipment could increase tobacco yields by up to five percent,” says Siedhoff. “For a plant processing three tonnes of tobacco per hour, this would generate annual cost savings of around EUR 1.2 million.”