What Is Smart Pneumatics?

Post By: Tom Rowse On: 24-08-2022 Read Time: 5 minutes - Guides - Pneumatics

Smart pneumatics represents another branch of development in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This latest evolution of traditional manufacturing and industrial practice is centred around the intercommunication of machines. This in itself is made possible by a network of connected technologies, including industrial automation, sensing networks, monitoring and control systems and data analytics. Many manufacturers like Festo and Camozzi are already building IIoT technologies into pneumatic systems.

These new systems and technologies are revolutionising production by enabling intense and detailed scrutiny of industrial systems through constant monitoring and feedback. Many businesses have already turned to pneumatics for the benefits it offers in manufacturing. Now operators of pneumatic systems of all sizes can install smart pneumatic components to realise substantial energy savings and productivity increases.


Smart pneumatics uses connected technology to optimise your system and fight the ever-present threat of leakage. All traditional pneumatic systems leak, mainly due to worn, faulty or ill-adjusted components. An average manufacturing plant running compressed air applications will lose 30-35% of that air each year because of leaks. If these leaks go undetected, larger leaks may develop, losing even more energy and causing machine downtime and maintenance costs.

This kind of problem will inevitably impact your productivity and cost-effectiveness. You need to maintain production consistency and throughput to keep your organisation competitive and profitable. If you find yourself spending a lot of time troubleshooting and carrying out unplanned maintenance on leaks, this can have a dramatic effect on your capacity to keep up with competitors. It may also indicate other performance issues that contribute to loss of productivity.

Smart Pneumatics

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

OEE is a current buzzword that summarises the optimal measurement of productivity in any given manufacturing process. For many organisations, OEE equates simply to profitability and increased competitiveness. This measurement identifies what percentage of scheduled production time is actually productive and how much is lost through three variables: performance, availability and quality.


Performance in OEE terms relates to speed. If you were to score 100% in this category, this would mean that your process was running as fast as safely possible. However, this percentage gets reduced every time your equipment experiences slow cycles or stoppage.


If your equipment ran continuously when it was supposed to, you’d score 100% on OEE. As above, though, any unscheduled downtime results in a percentage being taken off that score.


This score is applied to the quality of the end product. If you scored 100% in this category, it would mean that your product was free of defects or reworks. This result would suggest that there were no leaks, worn components or poor machine performance in the production process.

The total OEE score is calculated by multiplying the three PAQ percentages together. If you scored 100% in OEE, this would mean your production process was perfect. Your equipment would be running at maximum speed, with no downtime, and turning out only top-quality parts. But this degree of perfection is unrealistic in current conditions. At the moment, an OEE score of 85% is considered to be outstanding, and many manufacturers set this score as a target for future performance. Smart pneumatics is working towards achieving 85% OEE as a baseline, and is already making significant progress on the pre-IIoT average scores of 45-55%.

Benefits of Smart Pneumatics

The primary benefits of smart pneumatics are continuous monitoring and consistent measurement of your air consumption. Air flow sensors do this in real time, identifying what piece of equipment is exhibiting a problem. They then use their communication capacity to send alerts directly to a control device so that maintenance staff can investigate the issue. At the same time, sensors also collect and transmit other data, such as air temperature and pressure. Getting your scrutiny down to individual machine level in this way can achieve the following major benefits:

Increased Productivity

Smart pneumatics monitoring is capable of detecting the most minute anomalies in a manufacturing process, such as variations in cylinder movement. You can programme the system to identify and implement optimal parameters so that cycle times remain high. You can also set up alerts and notifications so you’ll know immediately if there are any anomalies. These might include leakages or threshold breaches, and fixing them will help to maintain optimal OEE. Sensors can be programmed for daily or hourly updates, or by piece or process step.

Reduced Downtime

Smart pneumatics keeps maintenance and production teams informed of all potential issues within the machine. In addition, continuous monitoring can track wear on specific components by also measuring usage and cycle time. Combined with cycle indicators, these measurements can estimate remaining system life. Smart pneumatic components therefore help to reduce downtime by incorporating predictive maintenance.

Lower Operating Costs

Optimising the airflow in your pneumatic system can also result in reducing the air pressure. Pneumatic operations are frequently run at slightly over optimum pressure. The system can be optimised by reducing the pressure to that indicated by smart sensory feedback. At the same time, eliminating leakage leads to a reduction in artificial demand for compressed air, as the pressure doesn’t drop.

Increased Efficiency

Smart pneumatics enables systems to function at or near their design capacity, and renders them inherently more efficient and more profitable. But truly understanding their potential for maximising productivity requires in-depth scrutiny of systems, right down to individual machine or device level. Installing smart pneumatic components provides a big-picture analysis of your entire operation. This helps you to see where and how you can raise your OEE score.

A smart pneumatic system connected to the cloud can also provide valuable feedback. Analysis of the data supplied by the sensors offers actionable insights. These may help to prevent machine downtime, improve effectiveness and optimise energy consumption. In this way, you’ll increase the overall efficiency of the operation, including saving energy and reducing maintenance costs.


Smart pneumatics are already delivering significant benefits to industry, and developments in technology will continue to revolutionise the way these systems work. While it may require some initial investment to convert or replace your existing equipment, the results will definitely justify making the transition.