Adding a higher level of visibility to older automation machines

It’s never too late to add more visibility to an automation machine.

In the past, when it came to IO-Link opportunities, if the PLC on the machine was a SLC 500, a PLC-5, or worse yet, a controller older than I, there wasn’t much to talk about. In most of these cases, the PLC could not handle another network communication card, or the PLC memory was maxed, or it used a older network like DeviceNet, Profibus or ASi that was maxed. Or it was just so worn out that it was already being held together with hope and prayer. But, today we can utilize IIoT and Industry 4.0 concepts to add more visibility to older machines.

IIOT and Industry 4.0 have created a volume of products that can be utilized locally at a machine, rather than the typical image of Big Data. There are three main features we can utilize to add a level of visibility: Devices to generate data, low cost controllers to collect and analyze the data, and visualization of the data.

Data Generating Devices

In today’s world, we have many devices that can generate data outside of direct communication to the PLC.  For example, in an Ethernet/IP environment, we can put intelligent devices directly on the EtherNet/IP network, or we can add devices indirectly by using technologies like IO-Link, which can be more cost effective and provide the same level of data. These devices can add monitoring of temperature, flow, pressure, and positioning data that can reduce downtime and scrap. With these devices connected to an Ethernet-based protocol, data can be extracted from them without the old PLC’s involvement.  Utilizing JSON, OPC UA, MQTT, UDP and TCP/IP, the data can be made available to a secondary controller.

Linux-Based Controllers

An inexpensive Raspberry Pi could be used as the secondary controller, but Linux-based open controllers with industrial specifications for temperature, vibration, etc. are available on the market. These lower cost controllers can then be utilized to collect and analyze the data on the Ethernet protocol. With a Linux based “sandbox” system, many programming software packages could be loaded, i.e. Node-Red, Codesys, Python, etc., to create the needed logic.

Visualization of Data

Now that the data is being produced, collected and analyzed, the next step is to view the information to add the extra layer of visibility to the process of an older machine. Some of the programming software that can be loaded into the Linux-based systems, which have a form a visualization, like a dashboard (Node-Red) or an HMI feel (Codesys). This can be displayed on a low-cost monitor on the floor near the machine.

By utilizing the products used in the “big” concepts of IIOT and Industry 4.0, you can add a layer of diagnostic visualization to older machines, that allows for easier maintenance, reduced scrap, and predictive maintenance.

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CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

The Factory of the Future, Today: How IoT-Enabled Climate Control Makes Plants Smarter

Automation is a target that many in the industrial sector are chasing. However, converting existing facilities into smart facilities can be a costly and time-consuming undertaking.

For a company to implement smart manufacturing, its machinery and equipment must be able to communicate with each other and across a network. Many in the industry are beginning to invest in steps toward automation through integrating sensors into their equipment and investing in IoT-ready machines and devices, even if they aren’t ready to put them online yet.

In order to fully integrate with IIoT (the Industrial Internet of Things) and the factory of the future, climate control units must also be brought online for remote monitoring and integration into IoT systems. For this, cooling units must either be replaced or retrofitted.

New Solution for IoT Connected Cooling: Retrofit

For many plant managers, the push towards automation means investing significant amounts of money in new connected devices. However, another option exists for enclosure cooling systems: Retrofit.

The practice of retrofitting your existing cooling systems for IoT connectivity wasn’t previously an option but using newly available adapters certain existing units can be connected. These adapters connect cooling via common plant protocols such as TCP/IP, OPC UA, Modbus an

Taking a retrofit approach allows all of your systems to “talk” to each other so you can ensure they are performing properly. Real-time monitoring of equipment enables alerts to be sent out, allowing you to get systems back online as quickly as possible to minimize costly downtime for your plant. Tracking data from cooling systems allows plant managers to confirm when equipment is running correctly, determine the hours in use and establish regular maintenance and inspections to keep cooling units running at optimal performance. When your climate products are running correctly, the rest of your sensitive equipment and controls can keep your plant smart.

When to Replace Rather than Retrofit

Retrofitting is the most cost-effective way to bring your climate control solutions online with your smart plant’s systems. However, retrofitting may not always be the best option depending on your current equipment. When should you replace cooling units rather than retrofit them?

  • If your equipment is too old. Assess the age of your equipment, if it is more than five to seven years old, consider upgrading to newer, more efficient and IoT-enabled equipment.
  • If your utility provider is offering incentives for installing more efficient equipment. Upgrade incentives vary based on timing and location, so if you’re considering an upgrade, check with your utility providers to see if there is a current or upcoming rebate program.
  • Was your equipment wasn’t specified appropriately in the first place? One of the most common mistakes when specifying climate control units is installing undersized units. If your current units aren’t performing as they should, consider upgrading.
  • If you’ve upgraded your drives and devices inside the enclosure but not your cooling unit. As drives and PLCs get smaller and smaller, plants will sometimes upgrade the contents of the enclosure, but overlook the climate control unit. If you can replace two drives with four or five, they may be more efficient than the older ones and less energy-loss, but the aggregate heat generated may have increased, meaning your climate solution may not be able to keep up.
  • If your equipment has failed. Obviously, if your unit has failed, it should be replaced rather than retrofitted.

The Rittal Solution for Retrofit

Rittal recently launched an adapter for its Blue e cooling units that, when installed, ensures the units can link up to smart condition monitoring and IoT systems. The adapter can be used to set up condition monitoring for up to ten cooling units in a master/slave arrangement. It is compatible with all wall- and roof-mounted NEMA 12, 3R/4, and 4X rated Blue e units that employ the Comfort Controller. Combining the IoT Interface with the IoT Adapter, Blue e cooling units may be integrated into higher-level systems. The whole system can be configured and commissioned via the web server– quickly, conveniently and without the need for any programming.

Learn more about the adapter for retrofitting your climate solutions for IoT, check out the brochure. To read more on IoT and climate control, visit IoT-enabled Climate Control is Changing the Game.

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CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Rittal distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

The Smartphone of Automation

Let’s be honest: Over many years, automation has for the most part ignored the developments in the consumer area – and thereby missed countless opportunities for user-friendly approaches. With ctrlX AUTOMATION we have asked ourselves the provocative question: What would automation look like if it were reinvented by Google, Apple or another digital company? We did not have to search long for an answer: It would follow the example of a smartphone, with the highest level of functional integration possible and a flexible app technology thanks to which users can easily individualize their devices. With ctrlX AUTOMATION, we have gotten very close to this idea. At the heart of this solution is the new generation of control systems, ctrlX CORE.

YOUR OWN SOFTWARE TRANSFERRED TO INDUSTRY CONTROL SYSTEM

The new generation of control systems decouples the hardware from the software. This fundamental difference to other control systems creates numerous advantages. Rexroth makes it much easier for all users to update the control system or to transfer the programmed contents to another control.

Standard control systems from large manufacturers are proprietary. This often prevents small manufacturers from implementing their expert knowledge for special applications. Developing their own electronics is usually not an option for them, so they often use an IPC-system in addition to the actual control system. Problems associated with this, such as the integration effort for continuous high-speed data communication or the uncertain long-term availability of PC-based technology, must be accepted.

Now, these machine manufacturers can directly transfer their specialist knowledge to ctrlX CORE as their dedicated industry control system, thereby securing the long-term availability of their solutions. ctrlX CORE combines an open architecture with industrial-grade capabilities and a serviceability of at least 25 years. Developers also face significantly reduced engineering efforts: In addition to their own functions, they have the option of simply installing additional apps from Rexroth instead of programming them themselves, such as data gateways for MES and IT connections, VPN client, firewall or OPC UA. End-to-end data communication is automatically supplied by ctrlX CORE.

ONE COMPACT CONTROL SYSTEM FOR ALL PLATFORMS

The decoupling of hardware and software comes with further consequences. ctrlX CORE puts an end to the separation of the individual automation architectures. The control system is integrated in the drive and requires no additional space, resulting in particularly compact automation solutions with no performance limitations. As an embedded control system, the ctrlX CORE can simply be extended with I/O and performance modules such as 5G or additional storage. As a plug-in card for the IPC, ctrlX CORE combines a real-time capable control solution and edge computing in one platform.

In a compact space, the ARM architecture’s processor holds enough reserve capacity for all potential applications, optimally distributed to the four cores of the 64-bit multicore CPU. With 1 GB of RAM, ctrlX CORE offers enough room for individual functions. The 4 GB of permanent memory and the additional external microSD card offer enough storage space for future application extensions, thus reducing the variance of the hardware customers and user need. The high-performance 1 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces are optimized for the fast communication of large quantities of data in highly connected systems, equipping users perfectly for the factory of the future.

Thanks to the modern and open software architecture, operators can make use of their own software and apps. This is because the container technology of Linux, the world’s most stable and secure real-time operating system, for the first time in automation opens up all possibilities of integrating functions with separate apps. The ctrlX Data Layer, which can be described as the central nervous system, grants central authorized access to all real time and non-real time data from the installed apps, enabling eight million potential accesses per second. ctrlX Data Layer does not need to be configured, as the apps automatically recognize the hardware and can use the data available in the system.

For the field communication of ctrlX CORE, we rely on the EtherCAT ecosystem as a standard. This opens up the entire range of EtherCAT peripheral devices to designers, who can simply integrate them into their own control architecture. It also reduces the effort for writing interfaces and allows for the combination of components best suited for the application in question. In addition, the control system supports further customary real-time Ethernet protocols as well as more than 30 IT and IoT standards and protocols.

UP TO 50 PERCENT LESS ENGINEERING EFFORT

The engineering apps reduce engineering efforts by up to 50 percent. The control system supplies a web server for simple browser-based engineering. With ctrlX WORKS, the user programs every single function in the PLC app (according to IEC 61131), G-Code, C/C++, Python, Blockly or other languages at the click of a mouse. The digital nameplates of the connected devices are recognized automatically and integrated in ctrlX WORKS. The integrated web server simplifies the visualization on browser-based end devices such as web-panels or consumer tablets and supports wireless diagnostic solutions with smart devices via WiFi and Bluetooth. In addition, the control system includes a simulation environment in which functions can be tested virtually and then applied to the control system.

COMPACT, OPEN, POWERFUL

ctrlX CORE decouples the hardware from the software and offers users the most modern software architecture in the world of automation. This openness gives machine manufacturers and end users an unprecedented level of freedom by allowing them to implement their own expertise into an industry-grade control system and to transfer pre-written functions as apps. What’s more, Bosch Rexroth consequently mirrors the user-friendliness of consumer electronics, making automation as easy as handling a smart phone – even without Google or Apple.

5 HYDRAULICS MYTHS

Guest Contributor: Dr. Steffen Haack, Bosch Rexroth

br_hydrolicmyths_hero_dec19.jpgNo drive technology is more efficient, compact and robust than hydraulics when dealing with forces in excess of 600 kN. So why is it that the importance of hydraulics is often overlooked in the training and development of our young engineers?

In the modern manufacturing setting, movement is everything along with the resulting data. Little thought is given to hydraulic technology, that is until drive physics comes into play. This is when hydraulic technology comes into its own in managing large forces and delivering robust performance.

Here’s a connected hydraulics ‘Myth Buster’ that demonstrates how the latest smart hydraulics are more versatile and cost-effective than you ever imagined.

THE MYTH: Installation is complex

BUSTED: Designers are no longer required to develop an in-depth knowledge of fluid mechanics and technology and increasingly look for plug & produce modules. These ready-to-install modules simply need an electrical current and a connection to the control communication.

THE MYTH: Commissioning takes time

BUSTED: Our smart, connected hydraulics are now commissioned with the same engineering tools as electric drives and control systems. Functions previously carried out hydromechanically are handled by the latest drive software. There are even software assistants available to guide technicians through the commissioning process and suggest suitable parameters.

THE MYTH: Hydraulics waste energy

BUSTED: There’s a preconception that hydraulics are more energy-intensive than other technologies, but things have changed dramatically. Variable-speed pump drives generate the flow in line with demand and reduce speeds accordingly under partial load conditions. Compared to constantly driven pumps, they reduce power consumption by up to 80 percent – a level consistent with that of electric drives of the same size.

THE MYTH: Hydraulics aren’t IoT ready

BUSTED: Smart hydraulics are a well-established part of IoT in production. Analog valves can be made digitally visible cost-effectively thanks to IO-Link and exchange data available through the control system. Smart valves, with their own control electronics and state of the art field bus connection, are as convenient to use as electric drives.

THE MYTH: Hydraulics are high maintenance

BUSTED: Hydraulics offer a distinct advantage when monitoring operating states and deducing possible wear and expected life cycle. With a few pieces of sensor data, such as pressure differential, oil temperature, optically measured contamination or pressure increase over time, software can assess the health of the system.

This myth busting technology is included in our latest generation of hydraulic power units, allowing young designers and businesses to benefit from all the advantages of our modern, connected innovations.

 

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

240% MORE PRODUCTIVITY IN THE SAME SPACE WITH ACTIVEMOVER

Guest Contributor: Jeroen Brands, Bosch Rexroth

Many customers aim to increase productivity in short-cycle applications, but the space available for the planned systems is limited and often set in stone. That means that our challenge is to potentially double the quantities being produced, whilst using as little space as possible.

Sounds impossible? Actually, it isn’t.

In North America, we’ve already achieved the impossible for one of our customers. The decisive solution that made all the difference was our highly flexible ActiveMover transfer system. It has enabled the customer to consolidate two stations into one, reduce the footprint by 44% per line and produce almost two and a half times the quantity in the same amount of time over virtually the same surface area.

Increasing capacity in limited spaces.

The customer was faced with unexpectedly high demand for a complex product, which required a rapid increase in production. As the plant only had limited space for new systems the customer was forced to connect two machines with different cycle times via a classic conveyor belt with a limited buffer capacity.

The system occupied a space measuring around 80 m². Three multi-stations in the system covered longer processes in order to shorten lead times. The entire process involved a total of nine work steps.

The engineers knew that this current set-up was never going to manage more than 50 products a minute and any planned capacity increase would require the basic layout to be changed.

That’s where we stepped in.

Our team suggested using the ActiveMover transfer system as the central element to the operation. It is composed of straight sections and curved units, with vertically installed, low-wear linear motors, which form a closed oval shape. Workpiece pallets travel across the entire section to precisely specified positions independently of each other. They can even approach several positions within one station, one after the other, and change their direction of travel. The individual processing stations are installed on the ActiveMover’s oval shape from outside which make them easily accessible.

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240% more productive with the same surface area.

The engineers were able to integrate all the stations in the ActiveMover in two steps. This allowed them to decouple processing stations with different cycle times and save on a range of multi-stations. The result: as opposed to the original system’s footprint of 80 m², the customer now needs less than 45 m². That corresponds to a space saving of 44%. At the same time, the output per system has increased by 20%. The customer has more or less installed two machines with increased productivity in the original space available, thereby increasing productivity by 240%.

 

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Why RFID is the VIP of 2019

The “most popular” annual lists don’t usually come out until the end of the year, but I think it is worth mentioning now three applications that have gained substantial momentum this year. With the Smart Factory concept being driven around the globe, RFID has emerged from the shadows and taken its place in the spotlight. The demand for a larger amount of data, more security, and increased visibility into the production process has launched RFID into a leading role when it comes to automation.

Machine Access Control

When considering RFID being utilized for access control, they think about readers located near doorways either outside the building or within the plant. While those readers operate much like the industrial readers, they typically cannot communicate over an industrial communication protocol like Ethernet/IP, Profinet, or IO-Link.  With an industrial access control reader one can limit access to HMIs, PLCs, and various control systems by verifying the user and allowing access to the appropriate controls.  This extra layer of security also ensures operator accountability by identifying the user.

Machine Tool ID

RFID has been used in machining centers for decades. However, it was used mostly in larger scale operations where there were acres of machines and hundreds of tools. Today it’s being used in shops with as few as one machine. The ROI is dependent on the number of tool changes in a shift; not necessarily just the number of machines and the number of tools in the building. The greater the number of tool changes, the greater the risk of data input errors, tool breakage, and even a crash.

Content verification

Since RFID is capable of reading through cardboard and plastic, it is commonly used to verify the contents of a container. Tags are fixed to the critical items in the box, like a battery pack or bag of hardware, and passed through a reader to verify their presence. If, in this case, two tags are not read at the final station then the box can be opened and supplied with the missing part before it ships. This prevents an overload on aftersales support and ensures customers get what they ordered.

While RFID is still widely used to address Work in Process (WIP), asset tracking, and logistics applications, the number of alternative applications involving RFID has skyrocketed due to an increase in demand for actionable data.  Manufacturing organizations around the world have standardized on RFID as a solution in cases where accountability, reliability and quality are critical.

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Hydraulic Valves Will Benefit From Connectivity

Guest contributor, Jeroen Brands, Bosch Rexroth

Hydraulic valves: Directional valve with integrated digital axis controller

Hydraulic valves: Directional valve with integrated digital axis controller

What are the current market requirements for hydraulic valves?

We are currently experiencing a transition from classic, analogous hydraulics to connectable digital fluid technology. European machine manufacturers in particular are increasingly digitizing their machine designs and expect that hydraulics can be seamlessly embedded into these connected environments. This means that regarding the level of automation, hydraulics are on a par with electromechanical drives. One of the decisive features in this respect is the seamless integration of intelligent hydraulic valves into different automation topologies via open standards such as multiple Ethernet interfaces.

Which new technical possibilities are available to meet these requirements?

Smart single-axis controllers are already remotely regulating hydraulic motions in a closed control loop. In addition, a powerful motion control is integrated into the on-board electronics of the valve. It performs the target-actual comparison on site and regulates accurately to a few micrometers. The control quality of the system is exclusively determined by the resolution of the measurement systems. These motion controls without control cabinet are increasingly used in saw lines, paper mills and machine tools. In addition, there are smart variable speed pump drives and smart pump controls. They provide completely new possibilities of replacing the throttle controls, which were predominantly used up to now, by more energy-efficient displacement controls. In this way, functions which were previously executed by valves are relocated to the software.

What about the integration of sensor technology into hydraulic valves?

The mass production of sensors for the automotive or the consumer products industry has significantly reduced the costs. Now, sensors are increasingly used in hydraulics. In our opinion, the integration of sensor technology of this kind into existing valve housings is the next step. Regarding condition monitoring, sensors could collect information on fluid quality, temperature, vibrations and performed switching cycles. Via deep learning algorithms, users can then detect wear before it causes malfunction.

Which other possibilities of mechanization does a valve provide?

The degree of freedom regarding connection geometries is already limited by standard requirements. The hydraulics industry discussed the topic of digital hydraulics in great depth some time ago. The idea was and is to control flows in a “stepped” or “clocked” way using single- or multi-bit strategies. In certain applications, this can constitute an advantage compared to continuously variable technology.

Which other innovations in hydraulic valves are relevant in your company?

It is no longer a question whether hydraulic valve technology will benefit from connectivity or not. The only question is when. The current discussions around Industry 4.0 clearly show how important it is to define all required functions and functionalities. Only if mechanisms and sensor technology are standardized across different manufacturers will active connectivity and communication be possible. Even in the future, not every hydraulic-mechanical pressure valve will have digital electronics on board or be connected to a control system or other valves. An imprinted QR code with information on the manufacturer’s settings, functional descriptions or information on replacement seals are a first step towards connectivity. In the area of new materials and production technologies, Rexroth has many innovations in the pipeline. 3D printing of cores for cast housings or direct printing considerably lowers energy consumption during the operation of valves. While the divisibility of the core mold had to be taken into account in the design of the core, this is no longer necessary today thanks to core printing. This means that we can use other channel designs which allow for lower pressure losses and improve energy consumption. For a valve with a flow of 10,000 l/min, the reduction of flow resistance by 10 to 20 percent significantly reduces the operating expenses.

Pressure transducer for hydraulic applications

How do these trends affect your products?

With the IAC (integrated axis controller) valves, Bosch Rexroth offers motion control without control cabinet which is completely integrated into valve electronics. It can be fully connected via open interfaces. The same applies to servo-hydraulic axes with their own fluid circuit. In these ready-to-mount axes, pump, valves and cylinders form an assembly to which the machine manufacturer only has to connect power supply and control communication. They use the same commissioning tools and user interfaces which means that all drive technologies provide the same look and feel. Classic servo valves, however, can also be improved further. New plug-in amplifiers with pulse width modulation for on/off valves by Rexroth reduce the surface temperature of the connectors by more than 80 degrees to only 50 degrees. This is particularly interesting for saw lines where easily inflammable sawdust constitutes an explosion hazard.

Outlook: How will valve technology change in the next 10 years?

In 10 years, valves will allow for easier project planning, more comfortable commissioning and more efficient operation and will provide more information before a service case. If service is required, the valve may already have ordered its spare parts.

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.