IIoT

The Emergence of Device-level Safety Communications in Manufacturing

Guest Contributor: Tom Knauer, Balluff

Manufacturing is rapidly changing, driven by trends such as low volume/high mix, shorter life cycles, changing labor dynamics and other global factors. One way industry is responding to these trends is by changing the way humans and machines safely work together, enabled by updated standards and new technologies including safety communications.

In the past, safety systems utilized hard-wired connections, often resulting in long cable runs, large wire bundles, difficult troubleshooting and inflexible designs. The more recent shift to safety networks addresses these issues and allows fast, secure and reliable communications between the various components in a safety control system. Another benefit of these communications systems is that they are key elements in implementing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 solutions.

Within a typical factory, there are three or more communications levels, including an Enterprise level (Ethernet), a Control level (Ethernet based industrial protocol) and a Device/sensor level (various technologies). The popularity of control and device level industrial communications for standard control systems has led to strong demand for similar safety communications solutions.

Safety architectures based on the most popular control level protocols are now common and often reside on the same physical media, thereby simplifying wiring and control schemes. The table, below, includes a list of the most common safety control level protocols with their Ethernet-based industrial “parent” protocols and the governing organizations:

Ethernet Based Safety Protocol Ethernet Based Control Protocol Governing Organization
CIP Safety Ethernet IP Open DeviceNet Vendor Association (ODVA)
PROFISafe PROFINET PROFIBUS and PROFINET International (PI)
Fail Safe over EtherCAT (FSoE) EtherCAT EtherCAT Technology Group
CC-Link IE Safety CC-Link IE CC-Link Partner Association
openSAFETY Ethernet POWERLINK Ethernet POWERLINK Standardization Group (EPSG)

 

These Ethernet-based safety protocols are high speed, can carry fairly large amounts of information and are excellent for exchanging data between higher level devices such as safety PLCs, drives, CNCs, HMIs, motion controllers, remote safety I/O and advanced safety devices. Ethernet is familiar to most customers, and these protocols are open and supported by many vendors and device suppliers – customers can create systems utilizing products from multiple suppliers. One drawback, however, is that devices compatible with one protocol are not compatible with other protocols, requiring vendors to offer multiple communication connection options for their devices. Other drawbacks include the high cost to connect, the need to use one IP address per connected device and strong influence by a single supplier over some protocols.

Device level safety protocols are fairly new and less common, and realize many of the same benefits as the Ethernet-based safety protocols while addressing some of the drawbacks. As with Ethernet protocols, a wide variety of safety devices can be connected (often from a range of suppliers), wiring and troubleshooting are simplified, and more data can be gathered than with hard wiring. The disadvantages are that they are usually slower, carry much less data and cover shorter distances than Ethernet protocols. On the other hand, device connections are physically smaller, much less expensive and do not use up IP addresses, allowing the integration into small, low cost devices including E-stops, safety switches, inductive safety sensors and simple safety light curtains.

Device level Safety Protocol Device level Standard Protocol Open or Proprietary Governing Organization
Safety Over IO-Link/IO-Link Safety* IO-Link Semi-open/Open Balluff/IO-Link Consortium
AS-Interface Safety at Work (ASISafe) AS-Interface (AS-I) Open AS-International
Flexi Loop Proprietary Sick GmbH
GuardLink Proprietary Rockwell Automation

* Safety Over IO-Link is the first implementation of safety and IO-Link. The specification for IO-Link Safety was released recently and devices are not yet available.

The awareness of, and the need for, device level safety communications will increase with the desire to more tightly integrate safety and standard sensors into control systems. This will be driven by the need to:

  • Reduce and simplify wiring
  • Add flexibility to scale up, down or change solutions
  • Improve troubleshooting
  • Mix of best-in-class components from a variety of suppliers to optimize solutions
  • Gather and distribute IIoT data upwards to higher level systems

Many users are realizing that neither an Ethernet-based safety protocol, nor a device level safety protocol can meet all their needs, especially if they are trying to implement a cost-effective, comprehensive safety solution which can also support their IIoT needs. This is where a safety communications master (or bridge) comes in – it can connect a device level safety protocol to a control level safety protocol, allowing low cost sensor connection and data gathering at the device level, and transmission of this data to the higher-level communications and control system.

An example of this architecture is Safety Over IO-Link on PROFISafe/PROFINET. Devices such as safety light curtains, E-stops and safety switches are connected to a “Safety Hub” which has implemented the Safety Over IO-Link protocol. This hub communicates via a “black channel” over a PROFINET/IO-Link Master to a PROFISafe PLC. The safety device connections are very simple and inexpensive (off the shelf cables & standard M12 connectors), and the more expensive (and more capable) Ethernet (PROFINET/PROFISafe) connections are only made where they are needed: at the masters, PLCs and other control level devices. And an added benefit is that standard and safety sensors can both connect through the PROFINET/IO-Link Master, simplifying the device level architecture.

Safety

Combining device level and control level protocols helps users optimize their safety communications solutions, balancing cost, data and speed requirements, and allows IIoT data to be gathered and distributed upwards to control and MES systems.

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.

The product carousel turns – cabinet free into the future

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Guest contributor: Reinhard Mansius, Bosch Rexroth

Do you ask yourself how to produce smallest quantities in an economically viable manner? That is no problem in the factory of the future: You are able to move your machines within the factory hall or take processing stations out of a production line, reposition them and then continue production at the push of a button. Cabinet-free drive technology is a key technology here with decentralized intelligence and comprehensive communication capabilities.

Looking in any supermarket will reveal promotional packs with twenty percent extra free or special products for Easter, summer, Halloween and Christmas. The product carousel is turning at an ever increasing pace. However, the life cycles of furniture, electronic products and cars are becoming shorter and shorter as well. At the same time, online retail accounts for an increasing share of the market. Consumers like to use online configurators in order to customize their products. As a result of this, you as a manufacturer may have to make production changes several times a week instead of producing the same products over many years. In the future, even this might not be enough and refitting may be necessary on an hourly basis.

On the basis of customer applications and numerous automation projects in our own plants, we have analyzed the requirements of such varied production processes and developed a vision for the factory of the future. Only the ceiling, the walls and the floor of the factory hall will be immovable. In contrast, it will be possible to configure machines and processing stations to create new production lines which will communicate wirelessly with each other. As a result of this approach, control cabinets will be obsolete or will no longer play a central role.

Control cabinets on their way out

The aim in automation: Making production changes primarily via software, with no manual cabling work. With traditional automation concepts, all cables lead from the actuators and sensors to the control cabinet and back again. In practice, this represents a bottleneck when it comes to installation and refitting. In contrast, the IndraDrive Mi servo drives are geared to and integrated into motors. They reduce the amount of cabling work required and take up no space in the control cabinet. They are installed with all necessary supply components in a decentralized manner in the machine or processing station. Up to 30 servo drives form a drive group on a hybrid cable string for power and communication. Only the first drive has an external connection to the higher-level control systems so that changes do not require cabling work on the control cabinet.

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The IndraDrive Mi servo drives are geared to and integrated into motors.

Switch off, reposition, switch on and carry on producing

This flexibility is available for a wide power range – from 0.4 kW to 11 kW. The drives without control cabinets have as standard four digital, freely configurable I/O connections for peripherals and sensors on board. Two of these can be used as quick measuring probes. By decoupling control communication, constructors can integrate further I/O modules, sensors and actuators for pneumatics or hydraulics. This means that automation is completely decentralized. As a result, it is very easy to make changes to the factory of the future later on. Simply switch off the station, pull out one or two plugs, push the machine to its new location, switch it on and carry on producing.

Simple, reliable commissioning

You as a machine manufacturer have scarce engineering resources which need to be used efficiently. Pre-defined, pre-programmed technology functions allow many tasks such as those involving cam discs or cam gears to be performed more quickly. With the integrated Motion Logic for individual axes, the drives take on axis-related processes independently of the central control system.

Engineering tools geared to the tasks make integration into modern concepts easier and save time. The Drive System software allows quick and reliable commissioning because its reads and applies the mechanical data from the motor encoders of the Rexroth motors. At the same time, the IndraDrive Service Tool offers easy access to service and diagnostic functions and also allows the software to be parametrized and updated. The tool which is independent of operating systems runs on HTML5-capable browsers and uses the web server which is integrated into the drive. This architecture makes it easier to replace components, while the tool offers practical access management with guest and service rights.

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Regardless of the sector – cabinet-free drive technology is revolutionizing mechanical engineering, significantly reducing costs and improving flexibility.

Communicative in a wide range of environments

Another key requirement for the factory of the future is that it can fit into connected environments and share information flexibly. You as a machine manufacturers are looking for drive solutions which allow them to cater for the different protocols in specific regions and sectors with a single item of hardware and thus simplify their entire logistics from ordering to the supply of spare parts. Cabinet-free drive technology meets this requirement with its multi-Ethernet interface. It supports all common protocols via software selection.

Ready for high-level language functions

Bosch Rexroth’s Open Core Engineering software technology allows you to access core drive functions and the integrated Motion Logic alongside PLC automation with high-level language programs.

In the future, you will be able to use Open Core Engineering for Drives to develop or purchase previously unseen web and cloud-based functions in high-level languages. This will establish a link between intelligent servo drive and server- and cloud-based applications. High-level language programming will open up entirely new connectivity options for you. Without complex PLC interfaces, you will be able to digitize the value stream – from recording an order in the ERP system and the MES systems to the drive.

Are you ready for new flexibility?

By modular concepts you will be able to streamline your processes or machines and stations and set them up flexibly and without control cabinet modifications to create new production lines geared to specific order requirements: the factory of the future is an evolutionary process which has already begun. Cabinet-free drive technology is helping you to meet the new requirements as regards flexibility economically, intelligently and safely – today.

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.

The Evolution of RFID in Metalworking

Guest contributor: Nadine Brandstetter, Balluff

RFID – A key technology in modern production

It’s not just IIoT that has focused attention on RFID as a central component of automation. As a key technology, radio frequency identification has been long established in production. The inductive operating principle guarantees ruggedness and resistance to environmental stress factors. This makes the system highly reliable in function and operation. With unlimited read/write cycles and real-time communication, RFID has become indispensable. The beginnings for the industrial use of RFID go far back. RFID was first successfully used on machine tools in the mid-1980’s. Since the usage of RFID tags on cutting tool holders has been internationally standardized (ISO 7388 for SK shanks, ISO12164 for HSK shanks), there has been strong growth of RFID usage in cutting tool management.

Cutting tool in tool taper with RFID chip

Track-and-trace of workpieces

Modern manufacturing with a wide bandwidth of batch sizes and ever compressed production times demands maximum transparency. This is the only way to meet the high requirements for flexibility and quality, and to minimize costs. Not only do the tools need to be optimally managed, but also the finished parts and materials used must be unambiguously recognized and assigned.

Workpiece tracking with RFID on pallet system

RFID frequencies LF and HF – both RFID worlds come together

In terms of data transmission for cutting tool identification, established systems have settled on LF (Low Frequency), as this band has proven to be especially robust and reliable in metal surroundings. Data is read with LF at a frequency of 455 kHz and written at 70 kHz.

When it comes to intralogistics and tracking of workpieces, HF (High Frequency) has become the standard in recent years. This is because HF systems with a working frequency of 13.56 MHz offer greater traverse speeds and a more generous read/write distance.

As a result, RFID processor units have been introduced that offer frequency-independent application. By using two different read-/write heads (one for tool identification and one for track-and-trace of workpieces) that each interface to a single processor unit, the communication to the control system is achieved in an economical manner.

RFID processor for both tool identification and workpiece tracking

New Hybrid Read-Write Head

Industrial equipment is designed for a working life of 20 years or even more. Therefore, in production you often find machines which were designed in the last century next to new machines that were installed when the production capacity was enlarged. In such a brown field factory you have the coexistence of proven technology and modern innovative equipment. For the topic of industrial RFID, it means that both low frequency and high frequency RFID tags are used. To use both the existing infrastructure and to introduce modern and innovative equipment, RFID read/write heads have been recently developed with LF and HF technology in one housing. It does not matter whether a LF RFID tag or a HF RFID tag approaches the RFID head. The system will automatically detect whether the tag uses LF or HF technology and will start to communicate in the right frequency.

This hybrid read-write head adds flexibility to the machine tools and tool setters as you can use the entire inventory of your cutting tools and tool holders.

RFID Tool ID tag ready for the Cloud

The classical concept of data storage in Tool ID is a decentralized data storage, which means that all relevant data (tool dimensions, tool usage time, machining data, etc.) of a tool/tool holder is stored on the RFID tag which is mounted on the single tool holder. The reliability and availability of this concept data has been proven for more than 25 years now.

With the Internet of Things IIOT, the concept of cloud computing is trendy. All — tool setter, machine tool and tool stock systems — are connected to the cloud and exchange data. In this case only an identifier is needed to move and receive the data to and from the cloud. For this type of data management Tool ID tags with the standard (DIN 69873) size diameter 10 x 4,5 mm are available now in a cost effective version with a 32 Byte memory.

Evergreen – more modern than ever

Learn more about the Evolution of RFID in Metalworking at www.balluff.com  o

Bosch puts a face to the connected factory

Guest Contributor: Bosch Media Service

Hannover Messe 2018 (hall 17, booth A40)

  • 1.5 meter tall 3D avatars represent the Factory of the Future
  • Smart soccer table teaches itself with artificial intelligence
  • New portfolio pools software and services for the connected value stream

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Stuttgart and Hannover, Germany – According to the slogan “Factory of the future. Now. Next. Beyond”, the Bosch Group is presenting at Hannover Messe what the company already offers (now) for connected factories, what solutions will soon be available (next) and what it is developing for the future (beyond). Despite all connectivity and automation, humans and their creativity are indispensable in the Industry 4.0 era. Robots support them with complex and time-consuming tasks like data processing and quality control. This is also the message of 1.5 meter tall, Pixar-style 3D avatars. They take centre stage in Hannover and move around the virtual factory. All avatars are mock-ups of market-ready applications or pilot projects. Allow us to introduce them:ActiveCockpit – the Data CollectorThe intelligent communication platform ActiveCockpit from Bosch Rexroth visualizes data to make it easy to understand for everyone. Its gigantic screen informs employees about the production status by processing and visualizing production data in real time. As a result, manufacturing becomes more transparent, while faster information processing enables clear analyses and efficient procedures. Users and companies both benefit from the immediate identification of problems. This reduces downtimes and avoids potential recall costs; the quality level increases.IoT Gateway – the Personal TrainerDespite the Industry 4.0 hype, some companies have not yet arrived in the digital age. The machines lack sensors, software or the connection to enterprise IT systems – and hence important prerequisites for the connected factory. The Rexroth IoT Gateway can quickly and easily connect both old and new machines for Industry 4.0. The IoT Gateway unites sensors, software and IoT-compatible industrial controls, making it possible to detect the condition of machines. Even operators of older machines can reap the benefits of the connected industry without large investments.

APAS assistant – the Team Player

Humans are key players in the factory of the future: creative intelligence is in the employees’ minds. They are supported by digital devices and robots. The collaborative production assistant APAS assistant, for instance, supports employees with monotonous and ergonomically challenging tasks – without a safety fence. This human-robot collaboration is made possible by an intelligent safety concept. Thanks to its sensor skin, the APAS assistant recognizes its human colleagues without touching them and stops before a collision happens. Once the employee has left the immediate vicinity, the robot independently resumes its work exactly where it stopped before. This interaction of human and machine leads to higher efficiency, and sustainable optimization of the overall productivity, since employees can concentrate on more complex tasks.

ActiveShuttle – the Delivery Guy

Robots also support with internal transport processes. They drive through the factory and, for instance, transport material cases from storage to the production station. With the ActiveShuttle, Bosch Rexroth presents a concept for an intelligent, driverless transport system that automates the internal flow of material and goods. The integrated lifting platform automatically unloads goods in the logistics and manufacturing areas. Cyclical transport or a consumption-based material supply can also be realized with ActiveShuttle.

XDK – the Messenger

The universally programmable IoT multisensor XDK (Cross Domain Development Kit) is the “midwife“ for companies, who want to develop their own applications quickly and flexibly. In a compact box, the XDK combines a variety of MEMS sensors, for instance to measure acceleration, rotation angle, humidity, air pressure or temperature, with a powerful processor for the analysis, processing and transmission of the sensor data. Be it for predictive maintenance, monitoring or retrofitting: the XDK can be deployed universally; the programming language XDK Mita facilitates programming.

Apart from the avatars, Bosch is exhibiting the following highlights:

Foosball: learning by playing thanks to artificial intelligence

Table soccer has to be learned. To do so, we absorb and digest information with our senses, in this case the eyes. With the help of our brain, we learn systematically how to hold, play or pass the ball with the right force at the right time. Artificial intelligence (AI) works according to the same principle: instead of the brain, software processes the information with algorithms; cameras and sensors replace our senses. The soccer table, also called foosball or KI-cker (KI is the German abbreviation for artificial intelligence), teaches itself and optimizes its soccer abilities with every new co-player. Industrial applications such as robots or autonomous vehicles can also learn numerous tasks and optimize their performance thanks to AI. Their biggest advantage: even after the umpteenth try, they will not be frustrated.

Smart Cab for connected farming

Smart Cab, co-developed by Bosch as a member of the CAB concept cluster, turns agricultural vehicles into connected control centres in the field. All components – vehicles, cameras and drones alike – can interact with each other. Via the cloud, camera drones send detailed pictures of the condition of crops to the driver’s cab, and operators are warned by the object recognition camera about living obstacles such as deer. Vehicle users can download specific functions from a feature store over the air directly to the machines. Depending on the weather or soil conditions, for example, the nozzle settings can be adjusted.

Nexeed – new Industry 4.0 software for production and logistics

Connecting the entire value stream

Hardware applications need innovative software solutions running in the background to provide the necessary connectivity. At Hannover Messe, Bosch is presenting its Nexeed new software portfolio, which pools Bosch software and services for production and logistics. The Nexeed solutions make day-to-day work easier for employees and optimize production and logistics processes in terms of transparency, agility, cost, quality and time. The portfolio ranges from the sensor, over machine automation to the cloud. Nexeed solutions can be combined to connect individual lines, entire plants and plant networks, as well as their intralogistics and external goods flow.

Systematic production improvement

The Nexeed Production Performance Manager, for example, ensures systematic improvement of production by helping employees with decision making. For this purpose, the software collects and harmonizes production and machine data from many different sources and “translates” them into a common language. Subject-specific functions like the Ticket Manager, which was developed for the lighting company Osram, make it possible for the employees to complete their tasks faster and more purposeful. Using an app, employees are informed about the status of their more than 80 connected machines at all times. Upcoming tasks such as maintenance work or subsequent material deliveries are displayed, evaluated and assigned to the employee with the appropriate qualification.

Opening the data treasure chest with Data Analytics

The production process produces a large quantity of data of various types – the most important raw material of Industry 4.0. With Nexeed Data Analytics, this data can be used intelligently to identify new optimization potential. Customers do not have to deal with Data Analytics themselves; this task is entirely up to the Bosch experts. They gain important insights from product, process and machine data, which can be used to achieve improvements regarding quality, cost and delivery performance. Customers receive an individual service from the first data analysis to comprehensive prediction models.

Intralogistics en route to the digital age

Compared to modern production, the intralogistics sector is lagging behind regarding connectivity. Nexeed Intralogistics Execution deals with the three big challenges: keeping an eye on the vehicle fleet, optimizing material storage and designing transport routes dynamically. Information on all intralogistics processes are available in real-time. By unifying relevant data from different sources – for example RFID in the internal supermarket, forklift localisation and inventory information – the solution not only helps logistics specialist with the daily work, but also allows long-term planning.

Seamless transparency throughout the supply chain

These days frequent travellers can easily share information about their whereabouts. With Nexeed Track and Trace, Bosch has developed a logistics solution that enables the freight to record a digital travel diary. The software not only shares the current location, but also regularly sends information about temperature, vibration and humidity to the cloud via wireless sensors and gateways. This way, supply chains can be traced and permanently optimized. The international freight forwarding and logistics company Panalpina makes use of these benefits. They use Nexeed Track and Trace for a transparent supply chain – not only on the road, but also in the air. On the first test route between Germany and the recipient plant in the U.S, each package was equipped with a sensor. It records regularly relevant parameters such as vibrations. At each gateway, for instance when unloading the truck at the terminal or loading the airplane on the runway, data and the location of the time-sensitive goods are transmitted to the cloud. The Panalpina sees whether the goods have been loaded into the airplane and how they are doing.

Video: https://youtu.be/gqCNU87dgz4

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.

 

Understanding Edge Computing

Guest Contributor: Rittal

With the growth of Artificial Intelligence or AI machinery that takes in information, learns and makes decisions, Edge computing will become not only necessary, but mandatory. The need to process data at the source to ensure acceptable performance will continue to grow with AI and AI will only be able to grow as fast as data storage capabilities grow. edge_923x340

 

To ensure acceptable performance of data processing at the source and reduce latency, Edge Computing will become more important. Formerly only used by large corporations, Edge is now being utilized by small to medium businesses that need services such as peer-to-peer networking, mobile signature analysis, mobile data acquisition, and AI. In the case of machinery, this puts Edge Computing outside of a traditional data center environment and the need for small portable data centers with cooling will spread. According to a recent IDC study by 2020, more than 70% of infrastructure-centric partners will become involved in IoT and Edge Deployment.

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Rittal started in the Industrial Market which is geared towards machinery and outside applications including dust/moisture proof NEMA 12 enclosures here in the U.S. in the 1980’s. Rittal continues to lead the world in global enclosure solutions that include all types of environments. From dirty and extreme temperature fluctuations, to typical clean and climate-controlled environments, Rittal has the right solution for you.

Edge Computing Defined

Edge computing houses data processing capability at or near the “edge” of a network. Usually, servers are contained in a micro data center, with as few as one or two enclosures. Data which is mission-critical, such as a system fail, is captured and available in real-time on site. Edge computing is valuable in capturing bandwidth intensive and latency sensitive data for analysis, lowering operating costs and improving energy efficiency. Lower priority data can be sent to the cloud or to a remote data center.

In Edge Computing, client data is processed at the periphery of the network, as close to the source of the originating data as possible. Companies are moving toward edge computing, driven by economics and efficiency. In edge computing architecture, critical data is processed at the point of origin via a server in close proximity to the output, for immediate and easy access. Data which is not as time sensitive is sent to the cloud or a data center for longer term storage, analysis or compliance record keeping.

The practice of edge computing alleviates the load on network resources. By processing data at the source, only the data required for transfer is shifted to a remote data center or cloud. The amount of data transmitted reduces the strain on bandwidth, and by specifying criteria, data can be sorted to provide key analytics at the site and to push non-essential data to the center.

With IoT and the proliferation of smart devices, edge computing becomes particularly valuable when massive data pushes would overload a data center. When monitoring enclosure temperature for example, it is unnecessary to upload data which will only be valuable to the operations manager in real time. If this data has historical value, it can be pushed to a data center at a later time, or when bandwidth is not at a premium. With edge computing, this illustrates one of its major benefits.

Since edge computing reduces response time to milliseconds, adjustments at the site level can be made almost simultaneously. However, the cloud and data centers will not be made obsolete, since the long term storage capacity is still needed.

Although edge reduces latency and improves accessibility, security concerns and configuration architecture must be addressed. With the distributed architecture of an edge security system, points are increased for system attack. Security breaches and infectious malware may be introduced at vulnerable points.

With the configuration of the device, secure default passwords need to be placed on each device, and vigilance applied to the updating of software to avoid infiltration of malware. Even with the potential points of vulnerability, the overwhelming advantage of the decreased latency and the instant data accessibility overwhelming support the use of edge computing to improve efficiency.

Learn more: https://www.rittal.us/contents/category/products/data-center-solutions/

 

Robot Collaborative Operation

Guest contributor: Tom Knauer, Balluff

In previous blogs, we discussed how “Safety Over IO-Link Helps Enable Human-Robot Collaboration” and “Safety & Productivity”. We’ll build on these blogs and dive more deeply into two robot collaborative operating modes: Safety-Rated Monitored Stop (SRMS) and Speed & Separation Monitoring (SSM).

Human-Robot Collaboration

Human-robot collaboration has received a lot of attention in the media, yet there is still confusion about the meaning and benefits of various types of collaboration. In a previous blog we briefly discussed the four collaborative modes defined by the global standard ISO/TS 15066. The most well-known mode is “power & force limiting”, which includes robots made by Universal Robots and Rethink. As the name implies, these robots are designed with limited power and force (and other ergonomic factors) to avoid injury or damage, but they are also slower, less precise and less powerful than traditional robots, reducing their usefulness in many common applications.

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The safety-rated monitored stop (SRMS) and speed & separation monitoring (SSM) modes are very interesting because they allow larger, more powerful, traditional robots to be used collaboratively — though in a different manner than power & force limited robots. The updated standards allow the creation of a shared workspace for the robot and human and define how they may interact in this space. Both SRMS and SSM require this shared workspace to be monitored using advanced safety sensors and software, which create a restricted space and a safeguarded space. With SRMS, the robot stops before the operator enters the collaborative workspace — this requires a safety sensor to detect the operator. Similarly, in SSM the goal is to control the separation distance between the human and robot, but it can be dynamic, rather than static as in SRMS. The SRMS separation distance can never be less than the protective distance and this requires sensors to verify the separation.

Spaces

The robot’s restricted space is a 3-dimensional area created to limit where the robot can operate. In the past this was done through limit switches, hard stops or sensors such as Balluff’s BNS; now the standards have been updated to allow this to be done in software with internal robot feedback that can dynamically change to adapt to the robot’s programmed operation. The robot controller can now restrict the robot’s motion to a specific envelope and monitor its actual position against its programmed position within this envelope using software tools such as Safe Move or Dual Check Safety.

The safeguarded space is defined and monitored using safety sensors. The robot might know and assure its own safe position within the restricted space, but it doesn’t know whether or not a person or obstruction is in this space, therefore a safeguarded space needs to be created using safety sensors. Advanced sensors not only detect people or obstructions, but can also actively track their position around the robot and send warning or stop signals to the safety controller and robot. Safety laser scanners, 3D safety cameras and other safety sensors can create zones, which can also be dynamically switched depending on the operating state of the robot or machine.

Closely coordinating the restricted space and safeguarded space creates a flexible and highly productive system. The robot can operate in one zone, while an operator loads/unloads in a different zone. The robot sensors monitor the restricted space while the safety sensors monitor the safeguarded space – and when the robot moves to the next phase of operation, these can dynamically switch to new zones. Warning zones can also be defined to cause the robot can slow down if someone starts to approach too closely and then stop if the person comes too close.

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System Linkages

Linking the restricted space and safeguarded space to create an effective, closely coordinated human-robot SSM/SRMS collaborative system requires several elements: a high performance robot and controller with advanced software (e.g. Safe Move), a fieldbus and a variety of built-in and external sensors (standard and safety).

Significant growth in robot collaborative applications utilizing safety-rated monitored stop (SRMS) and speed & separation monitoring (SSM) will occur as robot users strive to improve productivity and safety of traditional robot systems – especially in applications requiring faster speed, higher force and more precision than that offered by power & force limited robots.

To learn more visit www.balluff.com

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.

Changing the Paradigm from Safety vs. Productivity to Safety & Productivity

Guest Contributor: Tom Knauer, Balluff

In a previous blog, we discussed how “Safety Over IO-Link Helps Enable Human-Robot Collaboration”. It was a fairly narrow discussion of collaborative robot modes and how sensors and networks can make it easier to implement these modes and applications. This new blog takes a broader look at the critical role safety plays in the intersection between the machine and the user.

In the past, the machine guarding philosophy was to completely separate the human from the machine or robot.  Unfortunately, this resulted in the paradigm of “safety vs. productivity” — you either had safety or productivity, but you couldn’t have both. This paradigm is now shifting to “safety & productivity”, driven by a combination of updated standards and new technologies which allow closer human-machine interaction and new modes of collaborative operation.

Tom_Safety1.pngThe typical machine/robot guarding scheme of the past used fences or hard guards to separate the human from the machine.  Doors were controlled with safety interlock switches, which required the machine to stop on access, such as to load/unload parts or to perform maintenance or service, and this reduced productivity.  It was also not 100% effective because workers inside a machine area or work cell might not be detected if another worker restarted the stopped machine.  Other drawbacks included the cost of space, guarding, installation, and difficultly changing the work cell layout once hard guarding had been installed.

We’ve now come to an era when our technology and standards allow improved human access to the machine and robot cell.  We’re starting to think about the human working near or even with the machine/robot. The robot and machinery standards have undergone several changes in recent years and now allow new modes of operation.  These have combined with new safety technologies to create a wave of robot and automation suppliers offering new robots, controllers, safety and other accessories.

Standards
Machine and robot safety standards have undergone rapid change in recent years. Standard IEC 61508, and the related machinery standards EN/ISO 13849-1 and EN/IEC 62061, take a functional approach to safety and define new safety performance levels. This means they focus more on the functions needed to reduce each risk and the level of performance required for each function, and less on selection of safety components. These standards helped define, and made it simpler and more beneficial, to apply safety PLCs and advanced safety components. There have also been developments in standards related to safe motion (61800-5-2) which now allow more flexible modes of motion under closely controlled conditions. And the robot standards (10218, ANSI RIA 15.06, TS15066) have made major advances to allow safety-rated soft axes, space limiting and collaborative modes of operation.

Technology
On the technology side, innovations in sensors, controllers and drives have changed the way humans interact with machines and enabled much closer, more coordinated and safer operation. Advanced sensors, such as safety laser scanners and 3D safety cameras, allow creation of work cells with zones, which makes it possible for an operator to be allowed in one zone while the robot performs tasks in a different zone nearby. Controllers now integrate PLC, safety, motion control and other functions, allowing fast and precise control of the process. And drives/motion systems now operate in various modes which can limit speed, torque, direction, etc. in certain modes or if someone is detected nearby.

Sensors and Networks
The monitoring of these robots, machines and “spaces” requires many standard and safety sensors, both inside and outside the machine or robot. But having a lot of sensors does not necessarily allow the shift from “productivity vs. safety” to “productivity & safety” — this requires a closely coordinated and integrated system, including the ability to monitor and link the “restricted space” and “safeguarded space.” This is where field busses and device-level networks can enable tight integration of devices with the control system. IO-Link masters and Safety Over IO-Link hubs allow the connection of a large number of devices to higher level field busses (ProfiNet/ProfiSafe) with effortless device connection using off-the-shelf, non-shielded cables and connectors.

Balluff offers a wide range of solutions for robot and machine monitoring, including a broad safety device portfolio which includes safety light curtains, safety switches, inductive safety sensors, an emergency stop device and a safety hub. Our sensors and networks support the shift to include safety without sacrificing productivity.

To learn more about Safety over IO-Link, visit www.balluff.com

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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.