Industry 4.0 – the Digital Backbone of Modern Manufacturing

Industry 4.0 is known as the fourth industrial revolution, changing the way we manufacture an ever-increasing spectrum of products all thanks to the digitisation of the mechanism involved in their creation. The change is rapidly growing pace, due in part to increased demand for newer smarter products and with leaps in innovations in the manufacturing industry. The first industrial revolution was the use of water and steam power to drive the great industrial machines, the second step was the modernisation of those older processes through the use of electricity and the advent of production and assembly lines. The third came with the birth of computers and industrial process automation, this fourth revolution, took the computerised automation processes of the third revolution and enhanced it even further with the utilisation of smart data and advanced machine learning.

The computerisation and automation that led to the birth of the third industrial revolution were certainly disruptive, the computerised processes of the day could handle masses of data, perform multiple complicated tasks and so on. As Industry 4.0 unfolds, those computers and control systems are now more advanced and interconnected and can communicate with each other, make decisions based on data and act on them, taking human involvement out of the loop. With the Internet of Things and a rapidly expanding network of internet-enabled smart industrial devices, such as Robots, motor controllers and sensory technology means the smart factory is becoming the norm and the nearly human-free dark factory is destined to become a reality in some industries.

The Digital Backbone

The industry 4.0 revolution is built upon the backbone of these smart devices, and ultimately as they access more and more data and increase in their intelligence, productivity will improve even further and industrial processes will become less wasteful. The definition of wasteful will, in some cases, of course, include a reduction of employees, particularly when it comes to the human-free dark factories mentioned earlier.

This digital network of devices communicating with each other and sending valuable data and information back and forth will ultimately demonstrate the true power of Industry 4.0 in the coming years. And as the devices themselves become even smarter, the opportunity for localised intelligent data-based decisions reduces data traffic and speeds up decision making even further.

Some industries and companies may be reticent regarding how exactly Industry 4.0 could have any significant impact on their business while many others are embracing the march of Industry 4.0, seeing the prospects of increased productivity, lean manufacturing and intelligent maintenance.

Image credit: Iidefonso Polo

Network Enabled

One of the primary additions to Industry 4.0 is the Internet of Things (IoT), a thing in the IoT can be anything, a person with a heart monitor, a farm animal, an electric motor, basically anything that can be assigned an IP address and is network enabled.  These smart devices use embedded processors, sensors and communication hardware to collect, send and act on data they acquire from their environments.

With regards to industrial automation, IoT enabled devices not only assist with providing data about internal processes but through the use of cloud storage, equipment and operations can be optimised by leveraging the insights of others using the same equipment the world over.


Process Control, Process Flow

Modern factories depend on steadfast machinery, Industry 4.0 takes the concept of dependability, process improvement and cost reduction further, with smart machines that can independently communicate with each other, exchanging valuable data that in-turn can manage the production process itself and be sent for further analysis. Within industries that demand precise processing and data capture, such as the pharmaceutical industry, valuable information that forms part of the compliance of the products can be recorded for interpretation and analysis.


Maintenance and Operation

Industrial automation and control processes can be complicated affairs, multiple motors, conveyor belts, robots, press tools, packing machines etc. all of which, should they fail could prove a costly affair when it comes to repair and downtime. Maintaining your fleet of machines used to come in a few forms, planned, predictive, preventive maintenance and so on, but now maintenance can be interpreted differently.

With Industry 4.0 and the IoT, machinery and processes can report on their status, imagine a smart vibration sensor monitoring the bearings of an essential electric motor, once the smart sensor detects anomalies based around established parameters, this could flag a report to maintenance personnel informing them to prepare to change the failing component. The benefits of precision maintenance, when it is actually required instead of waiting for it to fail, or we will change this motor even though it’s perfectly functioning anyway methodology has numerous obvious benefits.

The Continued Rise of the Bots

The growth of robotics within industry is well known to most, rows of advanced robots working on a vehicle production lines performing various mechanical functions, or the pick and place robots assembling components on to a PCB. As a modern example, Amazon utilises robotics in some of their warehouses, bringing products to warehouse operatives instead of the operatives searching for the products themselves amongst the racking

All of these devices can be networked, sending valuable processing data upstream for analysis leading to a streamlining of processes, efficiency improvements, and as mentioned previously, help themselves to stay functional.

Autonomous Agriculture

With the human population increasing at an exponential rate the need for efficient farming will be required to feed all these people, as a result, the humble farm tractor, as the beating heart of any farm, is destined to be one of the earliest vehicles to become autonomous. Autonomous tractors will be fitted with various vision systems, accurate GPS for precision navigation, IoT connection for monitoring and data feedback, be able to monitor the weather and perhaps access LIDAR mapping for the detection of objects and terrain changes for avoidance purposes. People will still have a place, establishing areas for the tractors to operate in, boundaries and optimal paths to take using planning software and other baseline operating conditions along with maintenance when it’s detected.

It doesn’t stop there either, the accurate planting of seeds, on-time irrigation, crop maintenance and spraying, weeding and harvesting are all currently under development. Deepfield Robotics, a BOSCH start-up business, is busy developing their BoniRob farm-bot that is packed with advanced technology allowing it to navigate to a field, weed it, fertilise it, monitor crop condition and more besides.

Industry 4.0 – IoT – Industry 5.0?  Progression is fluid

Industry 4.0 and its essential counterpart the IoT are rapidly evolving, with billions of devices currently connected and growing rapidly in number, it may take a few short years before we have a clearer picture of its true and full potential. What is certain is that the companies and industries that are adopting and pioneering this technology are rapidly changing our traditionalist view of how things can be manufactured, maintained, farmed, monitored and controlled.  What could previously have taken considerable manpower and time can now be streamlined to perhaps a matter of hours, process times can be optimised and made leaner and can be run without human decision-making input.

One this is certain that this change, whether we like it or not, is upon us, and with the burgeoning population, their demands, and the needs for product and of course more food, there is no doubt that to be more efficient, and carefully utilise all our many resources to their fullest possible potential we need all the help our own innovation can give us.

Considering the rate of change within modern industry and the ever-accelerating nature of innovation and adoption of these advanced methods of managing and controlling a plethora of manufacturing processes, automated vehicles and just about anything else you can think of, what will the fifth industrial revolution be?

Will industry 5.0 herald the rise of A.I? Already outlined as the collaboration between man and machine – could Industry 5.0 (or industry 6.0?) eventually erase humanity from the production process, being solely employed to service and program machinery? All things considered, even that role would appear to be in question with the current ability of machinery to self-diagnose and act on smart data, it isn’t a big leap of the imagination to envisage self-diagnosis and analysis becoming self-repair and self-program. Time will tell as to just what path industry 5.0 (and the iterations destined to follow) will eventually take but what is certain is that that time will be upon us sooner rather than later.


Further Reading:

Industrial Ethernet

Safety Light Curtain

IO-Link for safety light curtains

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With the development of the SF4D safety light curtain series, Panasonic has once again proven the quality of their automation products: The SF4D has been adopted very fast and successfully in various industries.

In addition to the existing advantages of this light curtain, e.g. the slim and robust unit body combined with a new optical system for much easier beam alignment, Panasonic introduces IO-Link communication for safety light curtains.

The IO-Link communication unit SFD-WL3 can easily be integrated into the existing SF4D safety light curtain configuration and allows storage and restoration of setting data and observation of functionality during operation.

Examples of IO-Link data output are process and service data.

Process data

  • Light received / blocked information
  • Stable / unstable incident light information
  • Extraneous light information
  • Emitter / receiver lockout information
  • Incident light intensity information (OFF, 1, 2, 3)
  • OSSD control output information
  • Communication control status
  • Number of units in series connection

Service data

  • Safety light curtain main unit information
  • SFD-WL3 communication unit information
  • Incident light intensity of individual beams (32 levels)
  • Error codes


Find out more about safety light curtains and all of the Panasonic products available at Kempston Controls here![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

trumeter Advanced Panel Meters – Helped BEST get Better

Saving energy, a valuable commodity, can only be a good thing, British Energy Savings Technology Ltd (or BEST as they are known) as specialists in helping industry eliminate wasted energy from motor-driven applications and systems, saving valuable energy and possibly reduce maintenance costs as well. With Carbon reduction targets becoming more progressive, certainly with good reason, BEST designed devices have been known to help reduce energy consumption by more than 30% in some cases with the outlay for the equipment being paid back in 1-2 years as a consequence.

With a large worldwide network of distributors selling BEST’s services and equipment, they utilise an energy saving demonstration unit that incorporates trumeter Advanced Panel Meters to visually present just how much energy can be saved by showing the swing in amp and voltage when the BEST intelligent Motor Energy Controller is utilised. Previously BEST had relied upon Taiwanese sourced analogue meters that have been utilised by industry for many years now, but these proved both expensive and had excessive lead-times of up to 8 weeks or more. Searching for a locally based solution on the internet, BEST’s recently appointed Technical Director, Andrew Smith was intrigued by Trumeter’s impressive range of meter solutions so he contacted them for advice and a possible solution to their current supply issue.


As it happened Trumeter were developing a new Advanced Panel Meter and so the Product Manager at trumeter, Neil Cooper, took the prototype to BEST to show them just what their range of Advanced Panel Meters could offer. BEST was hugely impressed with the massive range of benefits and features that this new Advanced Panel Meter design offered above and beyond the more traditional analogue panel meters, they were using.




Utilising the trumeter APM allowed BEST to demonstrate the abilities of their Intelligent Motor Energy Controller equipment much more effectively. The trumeter products allowed them to visually demonstrate the physical swing through changing colours and swing along with enabling them to personalise the meters scale for a multitude of countries, for example, 50-120V for the USA and 200V for Japan. This enabled BEST to produce just one demonstration unit for their worldwide distributor network to use instead of one unit per country, whereas previously they had to construct one for each, saving them money from the get-go!




Andrew Smith had this to say: “From the onset, trumeter have been very proactive to our requirements. They have taken time to understand what we need and have even made modifications to the software for us. The new APM has a massive cost benefit for us, not only in the cost of the product but also in the reduction of the size of the case; it’s less weight and easier to transport. The biggest benefit however is how it visibly demonstrates the change in voltage and current to our customers.”

If you are looking at saving money, perhaps in the acquisition of your panel meter solution or you need a more advanced and capable product for your particular installation Kempston Controls stocks an impressive range of trumeter products, all ready for instant dispatch.

Learn More about trumeter Advanced Panel Meters

View the Range


Please call our sales team on +44 (0) 1933 411411 or you can email them at and they will be more than happy to help you with your product requirements. For more technical solutions and assistance you can contact our technical helpdesk on +44(0) 1933 411411 or email

Ultra-Low Emissions. Will you be Leading the Charge When it Comes to Electric Vehicle Supply Networks?

In 2018 the UK Government launched its Road to Zero strategy, with ambitious targets of at least 50% and as many as 70% of new cars constructed to be ultra-low emissions by 2030 and by 2050 they want almost every car and van to be zero emission. Outlined in the Government document, The Road to Zero, the plan promises a huge expansion of the vehicle charging infrastructure that will be needed to keep these electric vehicles moving efficiently. Plans are afoot to increase the level of charge-points, with one every 20 miles along the strategic road network by 2020, along with charging points in all new homes and the retrofitting of lampposts with charging fixtures.

Picture credit: Joe Nomias, Pixabay

One thing is for certain, the Government’s plan offers an enormous opportunity for the many businesses and industries involved in its creation, development and upkeep.  Research and development teams will be constantly innovating, manufacturers will be building the devices required, the installation of the network and charging points and maintaining these systems will need a fleet of service personnel to fulfil the plan proposals.

It took over 20 years for electric cars to reach their first million in sales, fast forward to today and a million electric vehicles are being sold globally in a period of just a few months, the momentum is certainly gathering when it comes to the transition to electric vehicles.

The uptake of the outlined policy is certainly making headway, Oxford is planning on introducing the world’s first ‘Zero Emission Zone’ in its highly-congested city centre. In London, the Ultra-Low Emission Zone began on the 8th of April 2019, meaning drivers paying a healthy fee if they don’t drive an electric vehicle. Car manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo recently announced that they will stop launching new models of car that feature just an internal combustion engine from 2020 onwards with other manufacturers likely to follow. One thing is certain a change in how we commute, or rather the vehicles we will be travelling in and how they are powered is coming and moving fast.

Driving Changes

Electric vehicles are obviously cleaner when it comes to producing emissions when in motion when compared to their petroleum-based counterparts, however, they do pose additional challenges.

  • In the UK and most other countries, the existing transmission and distribution networks will struggle to meet the expanding fleet of electric vehicles which will demand masses of additional power.
  • Although an electric vehicle may produce zero emissions, producing the energy used to charge it may not be the case, thus the energy grid will need to be powered by a much higher level of renewable energy and low-carbon methods.
  • Energy is generally produced according to demand, and renewable sources like wind and solar can be unpredictable, leading to instability in demand provision as the load increases further. Countries that depend on Hydroelectric power will be better placed environmentally.
  • The batteries used to power electric vehicles are rising in capacity, that coupled with their growth in use will equate to existing charging methods struggling to meet future demands.


Meeting the Demands

There is no doubt that the changes to the way we commute around our towns and cities are firmly headed in the direction of dependency upon electric vehicles, with natural gas, hybrid and fuel cell powered transport, both public and personal, making up a percentage as well.

Recent research suggests that fast-charging an electric vehicle battery in 10 minutes will require 300 to 400 kW of power, if you have several cars all charging at the same charging point you will need about 1MW of power. No 240V mains plugs here, a facility like this would need to be connected to an 11 or 33 kV grid. Primarily it is in this area where the infrastructure needs to be expanded and future proofed (along with the increase in green energy production), to make EV’s lend themselves to everyday life.

There are other considerations of course, such as how will people without their own parking area effectively charge their vehicles?  Will hybrid vehicles that feature a large electric motor that has its batteries recharged by a small petrol generator be more effective in the short term? Will the roads eventually incorporate induction charging in their construction so that your car can be charged just by being on the road itself? Time will tell.


Charging at home and on the road, safely

Electric vehicles charged at home will utilise the AC source found there and be charged using a cable, known as Mode 2 charging, with an integrated monitoring system and a dependence on the vehicles internal charging circuit to manage the charging process. Ultimately this means that AC charging at home is a relatively simple and safe process for those who possess their own parking facilities.

Picture Credit: Paul Brennan, Pixabay

Large scale quick-charging stations used to sustain an entirely electric vehicle network would usually be an unearthed DC system, known as Mode 4 Charging. Charging via DC would involve supplying an external DC voltage to a vehicles network of batteries connected in series with a governed voltage so that it is always slightly higher than the cell voltages of batteries. This process involves complicated control systems as the currents involved can be several hundred amps, which is also potentially dangerous. Unlike AC charging at home, this DC method is ideal for rapid recharging during a journey and depends on the insulation monitoring device in the car being deactivated with the entire charging process being monitored by the charger’s insulation monitoring device (IMD).

Companies like ABB, Phoenix Contact, Schneider, DOLD, Bender, Siemens and others offer a range of residual current monitoring sensors and insulation monitoring devices that are perfectly suitable for Mode 2 and Mode 4 vehicle charging methods.

To meet the growing need for these devices, Kempston Controls stocks an impressive range of products suitable for EV charging applications, and as ever, if we don’t have the products on our store shelves, we can certainly source it for you. Our dedicated technical and sales team are always happy to help please call +44 (0) 1933 411411, or email or for all your vehicle charging application requirements.

Full-Scale Monitoring, Measuring and Protection with Crompton Instruments from TE Connectivity

Crompton Instruments was established by the British electrical engineer, industrialist and inventor Rookes Evelyn Bell Crompton in 1881, originally dealing in a range of switchgear, electrical meters and circuit breakers and in later years centralised power stations, the company also helped develop the world’s first electric toaster!

With a solid offering of analogue devices behind them, Crompton Instruments’ comprehensive range of products continued to expand over the decades that followed to include devices such as protector trip relays, current transformers and transducers. With the advent of electronically controlled technology, the Crompton portfolio was enhanced further-still with digitally controlled devices such as earth leakage relays, meter-relays and multifunction meters designed for a multitude of industrial applications.

Continual Innovation

Synonymous with innovation and dependability the Crompton Instruments brand continues to flourish today as a very successful division of TE Connectivity (formerly Tyco) who acquired the company in 2002, as custodians of the brand and with their extensive experience in the realms of automation and control they are continually adding more and more sophisticated technology to the Crompton Instruments portfolio of dependable products.

Kempston Controls, as an official distributor for TE Connectivity, stocks an enormous range of Crompton Instruments branded products ready for immediate delivery and even if we don’t currently stock the specific products you require, we can certainly get them for you and at the best prices.

Extensive Range

The extensive range of Crompton Instruments products available from Kempston Controls includes a wealth of measurement technology products that today’s applications require for efficient and effective energy management, including an extensive range of digital and analogue panel mount metering systems, transducers and power quality meters

Some of the Impressive Crompton Instruments Range of Panel Meters and Current Transformers

As you will be aware, today’s industry is rapidly changing, systems are becoming more complicated, monitoring and controlling processes and sending data via the IoT whilst improving efficiency, downtime and service costs, which ultimately means that these installations are expensive. To meet the demands of the modern industrial environment and protect the expensive assets within, Crompton Instruments’ circuit protection device range is extensive, including protector trip relays, protection current transformers, meter relays, phase monitoring relays and so much more, all designed to accurately measure, control and protect your expensive installation.

Voltage and Current Monitoring

Traditional Crompton Instruments Panel Meters and a strikingly modern Multifunction Panel Meter

For a the more traditional approach to monitoring voltage and current levels there is also a vast array of analogue moving scale panel meters designed to visualise AC and DC voltages, frequency and current ratings, offered in short-scale, long-scale, DIN style and many more in an incredible and affordable range of designs and voltage, current and frequency ratings.

Click here to view the Crompton Instruments range of industrial control and monitoring products.

Call Kempston Controls today to discuss your Crompton Instruments product needs, our dedicated sales team are always happy to help with any enquiries.

Call sales on +44(0) 1933 411411 or you can email us at