Industry 4.0

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

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.

How do I justify an IIoT investment?

Guest contributor: Will Healy III, Balluff

Many engineers and managers I meet with when presenting at conferences on Smart Manufacturing ask some version of the question: “How can we justify the extra cost of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?” or “How do I convince management that we need an Industry 4.0 project?” This is absolutely a fair and tough question that needs to be answered; without buy-in from management and proper budget allocation, you can’t move forward. While an investment in IIoT can deliver major payoffs, the best justification really depends on your boss.

I have seen three strong arguments that can be adapted to a variety of management styles and motivations.

1) Showing a ROI through Reducing Downtime

“Show me the money!” I think everyone has a manager with this expectation. It may seem like a daunting task to calculate or capture this information, but by using a team, knowing your KPIs and applying anecdotal feedback, you can get a good initial picture of the ROI that an IIoT project will bring to the organization. Many people have shared with me that their initial project’s ROI has “funded the next project.” There is a really great article from MetalForming Magazine that discusses how exactly to do this with the tables and forms they used at ODM Tool & Manufacturing.

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2) Corporate Goals for Productivity and Utilization

We can be successful getting support for a project when we link corporate goals to project goals. Smart Industry publishes a research project each year that investigates trends in the manufacturing space in regards to digital transformation initiatives. This report cites that the three top benefits manufacturers are seeing are: improving worker productivity (3rd 2016), reducing costs (1st 2016) and optimizing asset utilization (2nd 2016). These goals are driving investments and showing actual results for manufacturers both large and small. However, the report also revealed that more than half of manufacturers cite workforce skills-gap issues as their largest roadblock and this is, I believe, why we saw improving worker productivity move to the top spot. We must bring efficiency and effectiveness to the people we have.

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3) Your Competitors are Investing in IIoT!

If you have a boss that worries about falling behind, this can be a motivating argument. Control Engineering recently published a study of manufacturers and how they are investing in IIoT technologies. The largest investments are coming with sensors, connectivity and data analytics. But what is most shocking is that on average IIoT budgets are $328,160, with 18% budgeting more than a half-million dollars. If you want to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the global market, an investment in IIoT is a requirement to remain competitive.

If you are looking for support and partnership on your IIoT projects, we are experienced at utilizing IO-Link, smart sensors and RFID to enable Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing projects.

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

Economical and intelligent: Handling solutions re-conceived

Guest contributor: Andreas Gryglewski, Bosch Rexroth

The market for handling and robotic solutions is highly price-driven, yet still leaves room for disruptive ideas. Bosch Rexroth provides proof of this with an advanced solution package for Cartesian kinematics. It combines an economical industrial controller with state-of-the-art web technology and assured instruction via a standard tablet. The result: minimum investment costs and maximum efficiency – before and during operation.

Manufacturers of handling solutions for loading and unloading face fierce competition. The volume market demands cost-optimized, rugged and user-friendly solutions that optimally fulfill all requirements in terms of accuracy and cycle times. In addition, users expect quick commissioning with as little programming, instruction and training expenditures as possible. A high degree of productivity and flexibility is also required for the operational phase in order to reduce downtime and so that format or process changes can be more quickly implemented.

All of these requirements are addressed by Bosch Rexroth with a particularly economical solution package for Cartesian kinematics that combines a high-performance motion controller with state-of-the-art web technologies and innovative value-added features. The automation experts make the solution package even more economical with an especially clever idea: users can perform the setup and assured teaching-in on any standard commercially available tablet.

Industrial control, web technology, consumer tablets

In its solution package for Cartesian kinematics, Bosch Rexroth combines a powerful motion controller with modern web technologies and innovative value-added features.

The disruptive solution approach for Cartesian handling from Bosch Rexroth is particularly suitable for machinery manufacturers and end users who want to implement flexibly and reliably adaptable pick-and-place tasks in a short time and at a low cost. Examples include the loading and unloading of injection-molded parts, the sorting of workpieces, or a wide range of intralogistics applications. Bosch Rexroth combines its proven industrial controller with a webserver and a bracket for a typical standard tablet, by means of which the user can visualize the connected handling solution and – graphically-supported – program, teach-in and adjust it as needed. The solution package is comprised of other basic components such as compact servo motors and drives for the kinematics movement, as well as a safety controller for connecting to the tablet bracket for safe teaching-in. From a single source, Bosch Rexroth also optionally offers the mechanical equipment, includinglinear axes with a belt or ball-screw drive and grabbers.

The utmost in connectivity and IT security

In its new handling solution, Bosch Rexroth placed special emphasis on the two key properties of i4.0 –connectivity and IT security. While the optional IoT Gateway ensures the horizontal and vertical networking, the security router with a newly developed IoT firewall, which is also optional, guarantees secure communication between the tablet and controller. Consequently, unauthorized persons can neither log into the controller nor can a virus attack the controller or spread throughout a company’s IT network.

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Thanks to the newly developed solution packages, handling systems from Bosch Rexroth can be more quickly commissioned, easily programmed, and taught most economically using standard tablets.

Easy commissioning without parameterization

One of the numerous unique features is the operating concept for the handling solution: Immediately after a servo motor is connected with a drive, the latter reads out the stored parameter set from the feedback memory and thus already has all the characteristic data of the mechanical equipment. The result: a considerable time savings and prevention of errors during commissioning, because the user no longer has to manually enter up to 70 parameters. When Rexroth mechanical equipment is ordered in the future, the parameters will be stored in the feedback memory of the motor while still in the plant. If the user puts his own mechanical equipment into operation; the associated parameter file can also be stored in the feedback memory and is efficiently read into the drive upon connecting.

Safe teaching-in using a standard tablet

The disruptive character of the new handling solution becomes clear during setup, which can be performed wirelessly with almost any consumer tablet. It is expeditiously fastened in a bracket especially developed by Bosch Rexroth for teaching-in, which can be adjusted to the respective size and securely encloses the mobile device. On the top left is a combination emergency stop and enabling button that makes reliable and comfortable teaching-in possible for the user. While the left hand holds the tablet and can press the red button, the right hand is free for other operational tasks. The visualization and operation of the handling system is web-based and applies the HTML5 standard, hence is independent of the tablet OS. An optional security router with an integrated firewall provides for IT security.

Programming without programming knowledge

Bosch Rexroth also made the process programming, which precedes the teaching-in sequence, as uncomplicated as possible. Because it uses the graphical programming language Google Blockly, as is the case with the tablet, no programming skills in conventional terms are required. In order to move an axis from point A to point B, for example, only the start and end positions need to be specified, and a line to connect them with each other. The grabbers are also opened or closed by means of graphical elements. Thanks to variables, logical expressions and loops, it is possible to easily specify and clearly represent various processes, also complex ones if necessary.

Features for increasing productivity and quality

Positively contributing to the performance of an especially economical operating phase of the new handling solution are its versatile functions and expansion options. These ultimately also afford the user a high degree of flexibility for changes in process or format. For example, the Active vibration damping function, which provides greater product quality in combination with a sensor, or initiates the exact countermovements in the open-loop process in the linear module in order to prevent undesirable vibrations or to move sensitive products. Thus, for instance, the utmost in accuracy can be achieved when loading and unloading using the grabber sparing the mechanical equipment for a longer service life.

Preventive maintenance and IoT integration

Preventive maintenance can also be cost-efficiently realized in combined usage with the optional IoT Gateway. In order to collect data for analysis and evaluation of the service life, the motor decoder can also be used as an intelligent sensor. If the motor revolutions are converted into linear movements, the timing for lubrication intervals or the replacement of components can be derived, for example. Communication standards such as OPC UA can provide for easy integration into customer-specific IoT systems as needed.

Economical in every way

The solution package is especially suited for pick-and-place tasks that must be quickly and flexibly adaptable – such as for the loading and unloading of injection-molded parts, the sorting of workpieces, or for various intralogistics applications.

 

With the new solution package, Bosch Rexroth introduces a fresh impetus into the competitive market for Cartesian handling. Automation expertise, modern web and IoT technologies, and productivity-enhancing features are combined in a rugged and practical solution concept that takes into account current and future market requirements, and which generates disruptive energy. Consequently, machinery manufacturers and end users find quick and very economical way to implement a reliable, efficient and flexible handling solution that can be commissioned, taught, and adapted to current requirements without any significant knowledge of programming and parameterization.

Innovative approaches of the new handling system:

  • A comprehensive economic package comprising industrial controller, servo motor, drives, security zone module and teaching-in bracket for consumer tablets
  • Maximum security through a router with firewall (optional)
  • Minimal total cost of ownership thanks to:
    • Commissioning without the need for parameterization: Drives automatically read stored mechanical parameters when connected with a motor
    • Device-independent visualization and operation (HTML5)
    • Safe teaching-in bracket for consumer tablets
    • Simplified process flow design without programming knowledge, thanks to Google Blockly
  • Added value functions for productivity and quality – for example vibration absorption
  • Prepared for data tracking for preventive maintenance
  • Easy integration into IoT systems through open interfaces such as OPC UA

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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.

Innovative automation solutions for additive manufacturing 2.0

Guest contributor: Peter Berens, Bosch Rexroth

Additive manufacturing is a growth market – sales worth tens of billions of euros are expected by 2020. However, innovative automation solutions are needed if this disruptive technology is to achieve a breakthrough and make the leap from prototype construction and toolmaking to industrial mass production.

If machine manufacturers want to achieve the productivity needed for mass production, they need to reduce the amount of manual work involved, the reject rate and the quality assurance outlay and successfully integrate the machines into the production line. Both challenges can be met through high-performance, intelligent and connective automation.

IoT as a key technology

In the factory of the future, AM machines will be connected horizontally and vertically to higher-level and neighboring IT systems. When it comes to the industrial Internet of things, Bosch Rexroth relies on open i4.0 standards such as OPC UA. With full server/client functionality, processes, cycle times and energy consumption can be evaluated in real time and optimized to achieve better productivity and quality. In conjunction with intelligent algorithms in drive and control technology, Bosch Rexroth also carries out predictive maintenance.

3D printing and the factory of the future

Thanks to decentralized intelligence, drive technology without control cabinets and open standards, the next generation of AM machines is ready for the factory of the future. Wireless communication and modular production lines increase flexibility while reducing set-up times. As a result, the factory layout can be geared to current and future requirements. The next logical step is the decentralization of the control system which will then receive its programs as necessary from the cloud.

What the hardware must be capable of

Whether it be metal, plastic or ceramic: the output in the relevant AM procedure depends very much on the performance of the CNC or motion control system. The shorter the cycle times, the more quickly the NC programs run. The higher the performance, the quicker 3D data can be computed on the CNC and process data collected and processed in real time. The MTX CNC system from Rexroth achieves this with a combination of a high-performance dual core processor and decentralized intelligence allowing fast reaction times. As a result, many additional tasks can be performed by the machine. Planning, programming and the commissioning of all system components take place in a standardized manner via IndraWorks Engineering.

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Software makes all the difference

In order to be able to control the application of additive materials precisely and to influence it easily with process variables, the control software too must be particularly powerful. The MTX system software includes numerous AM-specific CNC functions for this purpose. These include an intelligent temperature control system and a 3D online simulation with collision recognition which automatically visualizes the construction time, positioning and printing head travel. The standardized G code is supported by any slicer software. Integrated NC encoding systems protect manufacturer-specific know-how.

Digitizing the workflow

Another key development area is the digitization of the workflow with typical tasks such as print configuration, job management, machine monitoring including online process modification or controlling intralogistics. Because this is not possible without interfaces to the software programs involved (e.g. CAD/CAM systems or simulation solutions), the MTX CNC system has an open system architecture and the Open Core Interface. As a result, machine operators can easily integrate their workflows. In a pre-production context, there are numerous benefits including material simulations or the certification of quality-related parameters. The CNC system thus fits seamlessly into simulation environments as “hardware in the loop”.

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Efficient, intelligent and connective: the MTX CNC system from Rexroth. (Source: Bosch Rexroth AG)

Industrial 3D printing in practice

Norsk Titanium AS demonstrates just how efficient industrial 3D printing can be. The world’s leading provider of additive manufacturing technologies for aerospace-grade titanium established the first additive production facility on an industrial scale. In its Rapid Plasma Deposition™ machines, an MTX system controls not only plasma burners but also ten servo axes for producing components and conveying or handling the titanium wire. The MTX system also takes care of process optimization in real time by evaluating sensors and calculating correction values. Bosch Rexroth contributed to the partnership through the experience that it gained during more than 100 group AM projects along with various system components such as drive controllers, supply units, motors and linear systems including the IMS high-precision integrated measuring system.

The German machine tool manufacturer Weisser presented its Weisser additive manufacturing exhibit for the first time at the EMO 2017 and the Metav 2018. Equipped with an additive friction welding unit (AFW), it allows fine layers of metal to be deposited on metal materials and then precision-machined using metal-cutting techniques. As a result, the final contour is maintained with minimal material use. This technology too benefits from the MTX CNC system whose user interface can be integrated seamlessly into the multi-touch operating panel thanks to the open architecture.

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The future will be even simpler

With high-performance and high-connectivity automation solutions, industrial 3D printers will be fast and reliable enough for use in mass production. Open interfaces will help to digitize workflows. IoT connectivity is paving the way for the factory of the future. At the same time, experienced system partners such as Bosch Rexroth who provide not only engineering and application support but also complementary technologies such as decentralized drive or linear technology with integrated sensor systems can help manufacturers to acquire the necessary know-how.

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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.

Hydraulics with IO-Link: Reduced effort, high value

Guest contributor: Theobald Herrmann, Bosch Rexroth

In almost all industries, machine users require increased flexibility for production means for small batches and continuous diagnostics of all actuators and sensors to increase availability. In addition to this, there is quickly increasing horizontal and vertical connection of machinery and systems for Industry 4.0 applications. The open standard IEC 61131-9, IO-Link, fulfills these requirements at low connection costs and energy consumption. Flexibility of hydraulics is increased by transmission of parameter changes in running operation. Provision of diagnostics information offers numerous opportunities to extend the concepts of predictive maintenance to increase availability of the systems. The manufacturer-independent IO-Link can be integrated easily and quickly in any industrial automation application.

Standardized wiring and electronic name plate support commissioning and increase availability

• Open standard for bi-directional point-to-point connections in parallel to field bus
• Easy connection with standard cables and M12 connectors
• No additional engineering tool necessary, possible configuration via control system.
• Data for predictive maintenance and quick device replacement
 Industry 4.0-compatible hydraulic components for vertical flow of information

Introduction: Limits of serial field bus communication

The introduction of field bus technology in the 1980s was the starting point for horizontal connection of decentralized actuators within machinery. Serial wiring lead to a considerable reduction in cabling and opened new possibilities for modularization in mechanical engineering. Field buses as well as most current real-time Ethernet protocols are manufacturer-specific, proprietary systems. The protocols have been developed by control system manufacturers and focus on communication between own electric control systems and selected peripherals. For actuators, sensors and other third-party equipment, either their manufacturers or system integrators are required to provide suitable interfaces in hardware and software for the respective field bus. This is very complex as device profiles and software have to be created in the respective PLC for every individual field bus and control system of each manufacturer.

Possibilities for hydraulic connection

Integration of hydraulics in modern automation systems can be realized in different ways. Numerous existing machine concepts apply on-board electronics for control of hydraulic valves. Exchange of digital information is restricted and only possible if the respective device is connected to a superior control system via individual wiring. This state-of-the-art in technology increasingly no longer meets the requirements of end users.

The alternative are valves with integrated field bus connection. These, however, require extensive wiring as well as integration into the control system and the respective field bus protocol by means of dedicated software. Both requires considerable effort that is too high particularly for price-sensitive applications.

Thanks to IO-Link, machine manufacturer and system integrators are enabled to integrate for example proportional hydraulic series valves and sensors into digital communication structures with very little engineering effort. With its simple communication structure, IO-Link has low hardware requirements. Additionally, the standardized M12 connection technology enables simple and cost-efficient connection of hydraulic valves in the field. This way, previously “deaf-mute” components with analog control are transformed in communicating and flexible actuators and sensors.

IO-Link: Manufacturer-independent and compatible with all field bus protocols

The manufacturer-independent IO-Link according to IEC 61131-9 standardizes connection technology for actuators, sensors and other equipment and provides a digital communication protocol for data exchange between control systems and devices regardless of the field bus. Field bus technology is not replaced but extended. Parallel communication enables machine manufacturers use of IO-Link with all protocols and integration of IO-Link-compatible devices into various concepts without additional effort.

IO-Link is currently already supported by around 130 device manufacturers and companies in the field of technology. Around 40 manufacturers offer IO-Link Masters and the standard is supported by nine manufacturers of control systems with central Masters and respective engineering tools. IO-Link devices are in the product range of almost sixty manufacturers of sensors, actuators and other peripherals. Rexroth, for example, now also offers hydraulic proportional valves and pressure sensors with respective technology. Function and performance of these proportional valves are identical to series valves. However, they also offer all options for bi-directional communication via IO-Link. This way, the hydraulics can be integrated seamlessly into connected structures. Parameters can be changed and operating states changed by the control system during running operation.

IO-Link system set-up

A full IO-Link system consists of one centralized or decentralized IO-Link Master, one or more IO-Link devices as well as unshielded 3 or 5-conductor standard cables with M12 connectors. Project planning and parameterization of the IO-Link Master can be realized in the control system hardware or an optional engineering tool. The point-to-point connections between IO devices and the automation system are established by the Master. It serves as the interface to the superior control system.

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IO-Link Masters are offered by around 50 manufacturers for connection of one IO device per port. The selection includes options for the IP20 control cabinet as well as decentralized modules with protection class IP65/67 for installation at machinery. Particularly in large-scale systems, cabling is considerably reduced.

For decentralized IO-Link Masters, the user organization of IO-Link has defined M12 plug-in connectors with three or five conductors. The 5-pole version “Class B” port is used for devices with increased current consumption like hydraulic valves. The 3-pole version “Class A” port provides an energy supply of up to 200 mA which is sufficient for most sensors. In contrast to analog controls, unshielded cables are sufficient for fault-free communication over a cable length of up to 20 meters. IO-Link standardizes connection technology for all actuators and sensors and eliminates numerous sources of errors during the installation of systems. Otherwise complicated and expensive cable dimensioning with individual wiring and shielding is no longer required. In addition, the logistic effort is reduced thanks to application of uniform M12 cables for sensors and actuators.

Rapid commissioning per software

Every IO-Link device features an electronic device description, referred to as IO Device Description (IODD). It provides standardized important information:

• Device data
• Text description
• Identification, process and diagnosis data
• Communication properties
• Device parameters with value range and default value.
• Image of the device
• Logo of the manufacturer

The IODD set-up is identical for all devices of all manufacturers. The IODD enables automatic recognition of the device by the IO-Link Master for immediate parameterization. Also automatically, device descriptions are included in the system documentation.

For project integration of the IO-Link Master in overall automation, commissioning personnel use the engineering tools of the respective PLC manufacturer. The IO-Link Master is selected from the device portfolio and added to overall automation. Depending on the control system manufacturer, all blocks for communication are available in a library for free.

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Via IO-Link to Industry 4.0

IO-Link enables access to device data either directly from the control system or remotely via networks from any location. Particularly important for future-oriented concepts: Already today, IO-Link offers type and instance data of Industry 4.0 devices according to the definition of the German “Plattform Industrie 4.0” initiative.

This way, also hydraulic actuators meet all conditions for future requirements of Industry 4.0 applications. Additionally, this approach is well-suited for subsequent connection of existing machinery and systems with low effort. Users replace installed proportional valves and sensors by interchangeable options with IO-Link connection for direct communication with actuators and sensors.

Diagnosis functions for increased availability

The diagnosis functions of IO-Link devices enable new maintenance concepts and considerably reduce repair times. Now possible call-up of device information in parallel to the process forms the basis for condition-oriented and predictive maintenance concepts. In this respect, proportional valves report whether they are functional as well as errors like under or overvoltage. In addition, the valve and sensor status is displayed for transparent error analysis. An integrated operating hour indicator enables calculation of the residual life-cycle for maintenance and decision-making on further use of the valve.

In case of faults, IO-Link accelerates diagnosis thanks to remote access for maintenance specialists to identify the type and location of any errors. Precise localization without personal presence at the system alone considerably reduces reaction times. If necessary, the maintenance technician opens the IODD file of the respective device in the control system. Other than before, components do not need to be disassembled to decipher hardly readable labels and manufacturers and types no longer need to be looked for in system documentations. Thanks to the electronic name plate, all this information can now be accessed with just one mouse click to initiate the respective order without delay.

IO-Link follows the plug & play principle. Replaced devices are recognized by the IO-Link Master according to their IODD file and the respective parameters are automatically transferred without any actions in the software. This way, even less experienced technicians are enabled to replace components without problems to considerably reduce system downtimes.

Summary

The open IO-Link standard establishes continuous communication with sensors and actuators irrespective of the used field bus. Now, even hydraulic proportional valves can be intelligently, easily and cost-effectively integrated in bi-directional digital communication. This simplifies commissioning in hardware and software and enables flexible adjustment of hydraulic valves for varying production processes. Increased requirements for flexible machinery and systems are now complied with. Extended diagnosis information enables condition-oriented and predictive maintenance concepts and standstill and maintenance times are reduced. This increases the availability of machinery. In addition, IO-Link enables future-proof integration of hydraulic valves into connected structures as Industry 4.0 components with all their related features.

Why hydraulics and IO-Link? Click here

Learn more about Rexroth and IO-Link

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.

 

5 Ways Flexible Manufacturing has Never Been Easier

Guest Contributor: Tom Rosenberg, Balluff

Flexible manufacturing has never been easier or more cost effective to implement, even down to lot-size-one, now that IO-Link has become an accepted standard. Fixed control and buried information is no longer acceptable. Driven by the needs of IIoT and Industry 4.0, IO-Link provides the additional data that unlocks the flexibility in modern automation equipment, and it’s here now!  As evidence, here are the top five examples of IO-Link enabled flexibility:

#5. Quick Change Tooling: The technology of inductive coupling connects standard IO-Link devices through an airgap. Change parts and End of Arm (EOA) tooling can quickly and reliably be changed and verified while maintaining connection with sensors and pneumatic valves. This is really cool technology…power through the air!

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#4. On-the-fly Sensors Programming: Many sensor applications require new settings when the target changes, and the targets seem to always change. IO-Link enables this at minimal cost and very little time investment. It’s just built in.

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#3. Flexible Indicator Lights: Detailed communication with the operators no long requires a traditional HMI. In our flexible world, information such as variable process data, timing indication, machine status, run states and change over verification can be displayed at the point of use. This represents endless creativity possibilities.

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#2. Low cost RFID: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has been around for a while. But with the cost point of IO-Link, the applications have been rapidly climbing. From traditional manufacturing pallets to change-part tracking, the ease and cost effectiveness of RFID is at a record level. If you have ever thought about RFID, now is the time.

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#1. Move Away from Discrete to Continuously Variable Sensors: Moving from discrete, on-off sensors to continuously variable sensors (like analog but better) opens up tremendous flexibility. This eliminates multiple discrete sensors or re-positioning of sensors. One sensor can handle multiple types and sizes of products with no cost penalty. IO-Link makes this more economical than traditional analog with much more information available. This could be the best technology shift since the move to Ethernet based I/O networks.

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So #1 was the move to Continuously Variable sensors using IO-Link. But the term, “Continuously Variable” doesn’t just roll off the tongue. We have discrete and analog sensors, but what should we call these sensors? Let me know your thoughts!

To learn more about RFID and IO-Link technology, 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.

New Design for Hydraulic Power Units

Guest contributor:  Andreas Günder, Bosch Rexoth

Optimum power, less installation space: Thanks to new intellectual and design approaches, compact hydraulic power units increase the economic efficiency of machine tools.

Powerful force in a very confined space

In the production world, hydraulics are firmly established. Machine tool manufacturers appreciate hydraulics for their high power density, toughness and modular design. In the lower performance range up to 4 kW, however, there are also some challenges. Since the installation space is often limited, designers and technical purchasers are constantly looking for increasingly compact solutions.

Installation space is valuable

The demand for compact hydraulic drives is not only due to the structurally limited flexibility regarding extensions, modernization measures and refittings but also due to the requirements regarding acquisition costs and assembly times or structural extensions of the working space with given machine dimensions. In addition to the level of integration of the functions, energy efficiency often plays an important role as well. Last but not least, many manufacturers are following the miniaturization trend. If workpieces become increasingly smaller, the moved mass of the machine tool has to be decreased accordingly.

“Installation space eaters” hydraulic power units

To reduce the installation space, solution manufacturers can start mainly with the following components: hydraulic power unit and control cabinet. When considering this split, it becomes evident that compact power units which are also easy to integrate require completely new design approaches to eliminate all features which waste unnecessary space in the performance spectrum up to 4 kW and to ensure that the units are still compatible with many different machine designs.

Highly integrated design approaches

The features of such innovative design concepts according to the EU Eco-Design Directive 2009/125/EC for example include a tank which is optimized for efficient degassing and reduces the oil volume by up to 80 percent. A much more decisive factor for gaining space is, however, that all functions can actually be integrated in one small power unit – from an economic variable-speed drive for demand-based power output to sensor technology with filling level, temperature, pressure and filter contamination sensors to a completely wired frequency converter.

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Compact and ready for Industry 4.0

For the future viability of this approach with regard to Industry 4.0, a data interface is essential as well. Only with permanent condition monitoring can the operating conditions be optimized comfortably and relevant faults be detected early on. With this equipment, the user only has to connect the electric power, the data interface and the hydraulic supply during installation and the hydraulic power unit is ready for operation

New cooling with heatpipe

So-called heatpipes are considered to be a space-saving innovation regarding the cooling of hydraulic power units. Their high-performance passive thermal conduction allows for a further reduction of the frame size. The heatpipes absorb the thermal energy of frequency converter, motor and hydraulic oil and efficiently transfer it to a central heat sink such as e. g. cooling water…
This ensures an intelligently optimized thermal management within the hydraulic power unit and optimally utilizes the cooling power of the cooling water. There is no need for a separate hydraulic circuit for oil cooling. This reduces installation space, noise emissions, energy consumption and possibilities for leakage.

Heatpipe – Functional principle

Basically, a heatpipe consists of air-tightly sealed copper pipes with underpressure. Inside, there is a medium which transfers thermal energy. In the temperature range of hydraulic power units, the medium may be e.g. distilled water. The boiling temperature of the water is significantly reduced by the low pressure within the heatpipe, which means that a boiling or condensation process can already take place at low temperatures.

Functionality: If you dip the heatpipe for example in hot hydraulic oil, the thermal energy at the lower immersed part of the heatpipe is transferred to the water. The water exceeds the boiling point, evaporates and absorbs a large amount of thermal energy with low temperature difference (latent heat). The water steam rises to the upper part of the heat pipe which is cooled by e. g. a cooling element. Here, the water steam condensates and gives off the thermal energy to the cooling water. Thanks to the latent heatabsorption and dissipation, the thermal conductivity of heatpipes can be up to 1000 times higher than the thermal conductivity of copper pipes. Due to the high elasticity of the copper pipes, the heat pipe can be easily shaped. In this way, ideal heat paths can be formed inside the hydraulic power unit and the installation space can be considerably optimized. Similar application ranges with equal optimization potential can be found in computer technology. Here, the thermal energy in laptops caused by heat sources such as the CPU are transferred to the central cooling elements using heatpipes.

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Plug & Play: no control cabinet

The frequency converter has a high potential for gaining installation space as well. If it has already been equipped with Multi-Ethernet interface for Sercos, Profinet and other standards by the manufacturer, machine and plant manufacturers are able to reduce the control cabinet requirement for the hydraulic unit by up to 100 percent. As a precondition, however, the sensor technology and the motor in the power unit have to be wired to the frequency converter in such a way that the frequency converter can control the hydraulic pressure autonomously. This means that the control cabinet can not only be designed with smaller dimensions. Sometimes it can even be completely omitted together with the corresponding installation effort and related sources of error.

Conclusion

Fully integrated small power units based on a completely innovative design approach for the performance range up to 4 kW provide machine and plant manufacturers with the advantages of hydraulic drives with very little space requirements. As an alternative to purely electrical solutions, the required energy can be converted into a linear movement in a precise and costeffective manner directly at the working area using a simple hydraulic cylinder. If sensor technology, frequency converter and data interface are integrated as well, users not only benefit from comprehensive condition monitoring but also from a significantly reduced control cabinet footprint or even from a design without control cabinet.
More information fully integrated power units: www.boschrexroth.com/cytropac

Operating principle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSPemS94G2I

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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.