Data are essential for transformation to Industry 4.0

For large industrial organizations, digitization is the key word to innovate and work more efficiently. With support of SAS, Prayon – leader in phosphate chemistry – has also taken the step towards Industry 4.0.

In a constantly changing market, it is quite challenging for industrial organizations to stay ahead of the competition. The production process must become ever more efficient, product quality needs to improve continuously, and organizations all over the world are investing considerable amounts of money in innovation. In the digital age, many industrial giants are focusing on the newest technological solutions such as analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Most companies are sitting on an enormous pile of precious data, and they hardly know how to make good use of them.

Big data

SAS has expertise in analytics and data management. Their software has inspired customers around the world to turn data into insights. The Belgian enterprise Prayon also understood the potential of big data. “Manufacturing companies such as Prayon have lots of data captured by machines during production”, explains Wim Mues, Sales Manager Manufacturing Benelux and France at SAS. “But those data only create value when they are used in a scalable and flexible system, so that a test or pilot can be easily and quickly converted into robust implementation for the entire organization.”

Prayon is one of the world leaders in the phosphate industry. Their products can be found in many applications in daily life. In food, for example, phosphate is crucial for guaranteeing quality. Prayon products are also used in toothpaste and medication. And in manufacturing, the company is everywhere, from industrial cleaning to metal industries.

Prayon 4.0

In order to stay ahead of competition, the Prayon Group also had to board the digital express train. To do so, they went to the experts of SAS. In a first small-scale project, data analytics enabled Prayon experts to optimize the production of lithium iron phosphate, essential for battery cathodes. This way, they achieved significant efficiency gains.

This success encouraged the company to engage SAS for a second project. With the help of data analytics, Prayon was able to improve the quality of calcium phosphate – a residual product from the production of phosphoric acid. This example of circular economy makes it possible to meet customer expectations in terms of thermal and acoustic insulation.

In a third phase of the project, Prayon wants to valorize their analytic models on the phosphate market. The intention is to roll out a global optimization platform that can be used by all phosphate companies worldwide.

Marc Senterre, IT director at Prayon Group, recognizes the added value of advanced analytics: “We live in amazing times. Prayon has been a leader in phosphate chemistry for over 100 years and now we are also a pioneer in Industry 4.0. The cornerstone of our digital transformation is the IT department, which builds bridges between production and technology. Advanced data analytics is clearly an essential factor to make this possible.”

International growth

Digital transformation has given Prayon a new boost. The company expects the greatest growth outside Europe, and this probably would have been difficult without SAS software. “To continue growing globally, we need to remain competitive”, says Marc Senterre. “Analytics and artificial intelligence help us to increase our productivity. This allows us to continue offering competitive prices and quality.”

By exporting to countries outside Europe, travel distances become longer, logistic costs increase, and competition with low-wage countries gets tougher. Only by reducing production costs, the company will be able to meet these new challenges. Therefore, production processes must become increasingly efficient and reliable.

Prayon is of course not the only company to discover the potential of data thanks to SAS. “Sensor data are capable of changing the manufacturing world forever”, Wim Mues concludes. “The digital transformation that Prayon has initiated, is another fine example of that.”