Industry 4.0

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.

Predictive Maintenance for Zen State of Manufacturing

Guest contributor: Shishir Rege, Balluff

In a previous entry, Mission Industry 4.0 @ Balluff, I explained that the industry4-0two primary objectives for Balluff’s work in the area of Industry 4.0 are to help customers achieve high production efficiencies in their  automation and achieve  ‘batch size one’ production.

There are several levers that can be adjusted to achieve high levels of manufacturing efficiencies in the realm of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). These levers may include selecting quality of production equipment, lean production processes, connectivity and interoperability of devices, and so on. Production efficiency in the short term can be measured by how fast row materials can be processed into the final product – or how fast we deliver goods from the time the order comes in. The later portion depends more on the entire value-chain of the organization. Let’s focus today’s discussion on manufacturing – inside the plant itself.  The long-term definition of production efficiency in the context of manufacturing incorporates the effectiveness of the production system or the automation at hand. What that means is the long-term production efficiency involves the health of the system and its components in harmony with the other levers mentioned above.

The Zen state of manufacturing – nothing important will come up on Google for this as I made this phrase up.  It is the perfect state of the entire manufacturing plant that continues production without hiccups all days, all shifts, every day. Does it mean zero-maintenance? Absolutely not, regular maintenance is necessary. It is one of those ‘non-value added but necessary’ steps in the lean philosophy.  Everyone knows the benefits of maintenance, so what’s new?

Well, all manufacturing facilities have a good, in some cases very strictly followed maintenance schedule, but these plants still face unplanned downtimes ranging from minutes to hours. Of course I don’t need to dwell on the cost associated with unplanned downtime. In most cases, there are minor reasons for the downtime such as a bad sensor connection, or cloudy lens on the vision sensor, etc. What if these components could alert you well in advance so that you could fix it before they go down? This is where Predictive Maintenance (PdM) comes in. In a nutshell, PdM uses actual equipment-performance data to determine the condition of the equipment so that the maintenance can be scheduled, based on the state of the equipment. This approach promises cost savings over “time-based” preventive maintenance.

PowerSuppliesIt is not about choosing predictive maintenance over preventive maintenance. I doubt you could achieve the Zen state with just one or the other. Preventive and predictive maintenance are both important – like diet and exercise. While preventive maintenance focuses on eliminating common scenarios that could have dramatic impact on the production for long time, predictive maintenance focuses on prolonging the life of the system by reducing costs associated with unnecessary maintenance.  For example, it is common practice in manufacturing plants to routinely change power supplies every 10 years, even though the rated life of a power supply under prescribed conditions is 15 years. That means as a preventive measure the plants are throwing away 30% life left on the power supply. In other words, they are throwing away 30% of the money they spent on purchasing these power supplies. If the power supplies can talk, they could probably save you that money indicating that “Hey, I still have 30% life left, I can go until next time you stop the machine for changing oil/grease in that robot!”

In summary, to achieve the zen state of manufacturing, it is important to understand the virtues of predictive maintenance and condition monitoring of your equipment. To learn more visit www.balluff.us.

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

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

The 5 automation trends in the packaging industry

Guest contributor: Hans Michael Krause, Bosch Rexroth

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i4.0 in practice: the 5 automation trends in the packaging industry

Next-generation packaging machines are being designed without control cabinets and are increasingly vertically and horizontally connected. Big data analyses, smart maintenance and model-based engineering have unleashed tremendous potential. But even conventional automation tasks can be handled more easily with open interfaces and integrated functions. What are the five major automation trends in detail?

What the packaging lines of tomorrow will be able to do

When I look at the highly dynamic packaging industry, I see four major challenges faced by machine builders: more individuality when it comes to packaging, more flexibility in terms of formats, higher availability and less space required for machines and lines. These challenges lead to five major trends in automation:

(1) Connected – the connectivity trend

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As a user, I need transparency, whether I want to improve system availability through smart maintenance, make my line more flexible, or optimize complex packaging processes. Without knowledge of subprocesses and plant conditions, I can’t analyze anything – neither on premise nor via the cloud. Modern automation technology and sensor systems now provide all the necessary data. I have to retrofit existing systems, but preferably without the need for programming or intervention in the automation. The IoT gateway fulfills this requirement extremely elegantly and can be set up in just five minutes. Machine builders can also opt for Starter Kit, which includes the Software Production Performance Manager (PPM), for a complete analysis platform from a single source.

The sweet side of Industry 4.0

There is also enormous potential in cross-vendor and system-wide networking via IIoT protocols such as MQTT or the open i4.0 standard OPC UA. At interpack, four machine builders and Bosch Rexroth will showcase the “ChoConnect” project as an exciting example of authentic M2M communication: Four locally distributed exhibition machines from LÖSCH Verpackungstechnik, SOLLICH, THEEGARTEN-PACTEC and WINKLER and DÜNNEBIER Süsswaren exchange information as a virtual production line for chocolate products using OPC UA in accordance with the Weihenstephan standard and create an end-to-end transparent value chain at the shopfloor level – without the need for an MES or control system. The individual steps of mass processing, molding, primary and secondary packaging automatically adjust performance according to individual capacities. The production process becomes more flexible; system efficiency increases.

Merging of automation, IT and IIoT

The fact that inflexible line PLCs will soon be obsolete is also a consequence of a merging of automation, IT and IIoT. With open interfaces such as Open Core Interface, ERP systems can be directly linked to machine automation, simplifying inventory management for machine components. Obviously, there must be also be a security strategy for regulating access to the control system.

(2) Simple – Make it simple!

The current trend towards fewer personnel per line has increased the need for intuitive control units such as HMI with multi-touch. Transparent and seamless visualization solutions are required – on the production line itself and at other locations in the company – in order to continuously improve processes and respond quickly when necessary. The ActiveCockpit interactive communication platform shows that such solutions are already available today.

Companies often need the ability to easily integrate new machines or lines into existing systems – this can already be done mechanically using standardized chain conveyor systems such as VarioFlow plus in combination with the MTpro planning tool. In the future, open M2M interfaces will allow for easy electrical integration.

With the growing need to simplify diagnostics and maintenance, we will see even more web-based service tools and innovative LED concepts at machines in the future. Augmented and virtual reality are sure to play a part here, too. It has been repeatedly demonstrated at trade shows how the digital twin integrates itself into the real picture using open interfaces so that complex technical relationships can be visualized and understood more quickly. A product orientation module for beverage packages by WestRock will be showcased at interpack.

(3) Efficient – end-to-end digital engineering

Ever more complex design needs and shorter time-to-market requirements are fueling the demand for model-based engineering with simulations and virtual commissioning. As a technology partner with industry expertise, Open Core Engineering not only ensures seamless integration of the machine control with simulation platforms such as MATLAB/Simulink or 3DEXPERIENCE by Dassault Systèmes. For immediate creation of a digital twin that can be simultaneously used by mechanics, electricians and software programmers, Bosch Rexroth delivers digital behavior models of its automation products as standard.

Bosch Rexroth also provides a comprehensive library of prepared technology functions along with the machine control. By emphasizing parameterizing instead of programming, flow wrappers, secondary packaging systems, fillers or sealing machines can be commissioned more quickly. Integrated standard kinematics and functions for delta, parallel and palletizing robots are also available. Object-oriented PLC programming and high-level languages, such as Java and C++, facilitate creation of the machine control software. The controllers feature a web server for easy integration of Internet technologies such as visualization using HTML5. Of course, standardized programming templates support the creation of machine programs following OMAC/PackML standards as well as the Weihenstephan standard and PLCopen.

(4) Adaptive – the adaptivity trend

What if the packaging line automatically adjusted the product stream in the event of a fault, instead of jamming and displaying a lot of error messages? Prefabricated software functions such as intelligent infeeds or product grouping are already available, even for these trend-setting M2M scenarios. For the use of robots and flexible transport system a separate controller is not needed anymore. These are managed by the standard machine controller, and the number of interfaces and the effort required to use transport systems or robotics are reduced.

In view of increasingly complex packaging processes, there is also a need for machines to automatically adjust to their environment. Machines require Smart Sensor Nodes with MEM technology like XDK in order to “learn” from their current state. Virtual sensors like servo motors and drives, including the intelligent MS2N servo motor, provide useful information.

Last but not least, next-generation packaging machines automatically adjust to the current format and regulate process speed as well as product handling. Adaptive software functions have also been developed for this scenario of the future. The spectrum ranges from flexible electronic cams in the machine control (FlexProfile), drive functions such as auto-tuning and anti-vibration to frequency response measurements and innovative filter functions for minimizing resonance frequencies in mechanical parts.

(5) Cabinet-free – much more than just space saving

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This trend in packaging is not just about saving space in the automation technology, machine footprint and control cabinet space. Instead, it’s about a modular machine configuration that allows machine operators and customers to respond flexibly to different requirements. The individual modules are connected to one another only by a single hybrid cable and can be easily integrated into the machine or retrofitted later. This reduces the installation area and increases servo density in favor of greater flexibility. Installation space, cabling and maintenance costs are also reduced. Such modular approaches are especially useful for secondary packaging and rotary machines such as filling and capping machines as well as retrofit projects.

Solutions for these packaging trends are already available. Use them now!

Manufacturers and users of packaging machines already have numerous options for boosting their competitiveness through intelligent and connected automation solutions. But to achieve this, they need an industry-oriented, expert partner with a broad ecosystem of solutions. At interpack 2017, Bosch Rexroth will give visitors the opportunity to experience the trade show theme of “Connected Automation i4.0 now live in all of its facets – including modern networking, simple design, model-based engineering and groundbreaking service. The future of automation has already begun and is ready for “installation” in the latest generation of packaging machines. Now!

 

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 Digital Improvement Process in Three Steps

Guest contributor: Marcel Koehler, Bosch Rexroth

Industry 4.0 solutions enable production employees to digitally replicate and implement a continuous improvement process, in order to increase output, improve product quality and reduce costs. But how do I implement a first use-case? How do I ensure the necessary plant transparency? And how do I configure the monitoring and evaluation system? Quite easily – in three steps, with easy to set up tools and tailored support by experienced experts.

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The focus is on people.

There are fundamental principles that were in place long before digitalization. Robert Bosch once said: “People should always strive to improve the existing conditions. No one should merely be content with what they have achieved; instead they should always aspire to do what they do even better.” Today, as in the past, the path to continuous improvement of production processes starts with people. Improving quality, reducing costs or boosting output requires at least one person to design, monitor and readjust the continuous improvement process. This person defines the essential information, keeps track of it, evaluates it, intervenes when necessary and draws conclusions, in order to adapt the process. With the arrival of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT), however, we now have new tools at our disposal. Tools such as IoT Gateway, which collects a variety of data without interfering with the machine logic, as well as the analysis and evaluation solutions associated with it, including the Production Performance Manager, which visualizes and evaluates the data, initiates the required actions to be taken, and simplifies the review and adaptation of the improvement process.

 

Step 1: Workshop in the company

But how do I use these tools? And how do I implement a first exemplary use-case, in order to gradually introduce it? New knowledge is transferred particularly effectively from person to person, just as in Robert Bosch’s time. In line with this principle, an experienced expert comes to the company and demonstrates the typical procedure step by step as part of the Production Performance Starter Kit from Bosch Software Innovations. In the one-day workshop, he explains the digital tools as well as typical use-cases and views the production plant together with the customer. The result of the joint workshop is at least one concrete use-case, including the solution design. The desired benefits will be examined once again and potential hurdles identified. According to the same formula, the customer can later find, develop and implement additional use-cases.

infografik_ENG_16_9_img_w1184_h666The IoT Gateway collects data from various data sources and natively transfers it to the analysis and evaluation software (Production Performance Manager).

Example of a first production performance use-case

A practical example from a concrete workshop: the condition-based monitoring and maintenance of a heat exchanger. If the heat exchanger becomes clogged due to deposits, approximately 1,500 parts become defective and the plant is forced to shut down for two hours for maintenance. An early warning system should be installed, in order to prevent production rejects and unplanned downtimes. A direct measurement of the flow rate in this plant is not possible, however, which is why temperature sensors are installed before and after the heat exchanger. The IoT Gateway, which is also installed in the line, collects the sensor data and transmits it to the Production Performance Manager, where the temperature difference is determined and compared with threshold values in order to indicate contamination. All measured values are visualized centrally for the employees responsible. When the pipes begin to clog, the system transmits a warning signal or assigns a maintenance ticket to the appropriate qualified personnel.

Step 2: Implement yourself with remote support

In the second step of the Production Performance Starter Kit, a senior consultant from Bosch Software Innovations installs the Production Performance Manager via remote access to the customer’s hardware. In doing so, at least one machine is integrated as a prototype, in order to prepare the user for scaling the solution later on. The demo license is valid for three months and up to ten machines are supported. In addition, four days of remote support are included for the Production Performance Manager. Depending on the technical infrastructure, the shopfloor integration can be done in one of three ways: via individual integrators to be programmed, via PPMP-compatible controllers or system-independent integration via the IoT Gateway from Bosch Rexroth, a universal connector that communicates natively in the open source protocol PPMP in addition to other protocols. Via the web-based user interface, the user manages the sensors, defines preprocessing of the collected data if necessary, and configures forwarding to the target system, in this case to the Production Performance Manager.

Industry 4.0 Showcase with IoT Gateway and Production Performance Manager.

Step 3: On-site user training

After configuring the infrastructure, one last step remains, in which the employees learn to successfully apply the software. This takes place as part of a detailed user training course with an experienced trainer who comes to the location for one day. After this training, participants are able to gain quick access to machine data via visualization, set up simple automated analyses and evaluations, and define intelligent, data-driven actions based on the results. Following the idea of continuous improvement, they are, as the key stakeholders of their digital improvement process, also qualified to review the actions for effectiveness and efficiency. Thanks to the transparency this provides, the user now has a valuable Industry 4.0 tool for their daily work.

elemente_eng_16_9_img_w1184_h666.jpgElements of the joint starter kit from Bosch Software Innovations and Bosch Rexroth

Gradual scaling after only three months

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After only three months, employees arrive at the decisive point, from which they scale the prepared solution and repetitively connect additional machines and entire lines. As costs steadily decrease, the benefit increases disproportionately in the long run as the transparency gained gradually extends across all bottlenecks. In this manner, the production management of Bosch’s Pecinci plant (Serbia) succeeded in sustainably improving the stability of a complex coating process for wiper arms. The IoT Gateway collects sensor and controller data, such as humidity or paint consumption, and forwards the data to the Production Performance Manager. The software analyzes this data and compares it with defined threshold values, in order to optimize the plant availability of the coating plant, which consists of ten individual stations. A track & trace function, which allows conclusions to be drawn from the finished product about quality-relevant sub-processes, is planned as a follow-up project to the continuous improvement of product quality.

Do not be afraid of software! Try it out now and get started.

With the Production Performance Starter Kit, the hurdles to implementing digital processes for continuous improvement are greatly reduced. Any fears associated with the digital toolkit are completely unfounded. The IoT Gateway and the Production Performance Manager do not require any programming knowledge for daily application. Together with the methodical knowledge and practical support of our experts, companies acquire the knowledge necessary to implement their first use-case, scale the solution and tackle additional improvement projects in only three months. Robert Bosch surely would have relished the idea!

Learn more about the Production Performance Starter Kit in the webcast.

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.

Non-Contact Infrared Temperature Sensors with IO-Link – Enabler for Industry 4.0

Guest contributor: Manfred Munzl for Balluff

Automation in Steel-Plants

Modern production requires a very high level of automation. One big benefit of fully automated plants and processes is the reduction of faults and mishaps that may lead to highly expensive downtime. In large steel plants there are hundreds of red hot steel slabs moving around, being processed, milled and manufactured into various products such as wires, coils and bars. Keeping track of these objects is of utmost importance to ensure a smooth and cost efficient production. A blockage or damage of a production line usually leads to an unexpected downtime and it takes hours to be rectified and restart the process.

To meet the challenges of the manufacturing processes in modern steel plants you need to control and monitor automatically material flows. This applies especially the path of the workpieces through the plant (as components of the product to be manufactured) and will be placed also at locations with limited access or hazardous areas within the factory.

Detection of Hot Metal

Standard sensors such as inductive or photoelectric devices cannot be used near red hot objects as they either would be damaged by the heat or would be overloaded with the tremendous infrared radiation emitted by the object. However, there is a sensing principle that uses this infrared radiation to detect the hot object and even gives a clue about its temperature.

Non-contact infrared thermometers meet the requirements and are successfully used in this kind of application. They can be mounted away from the hot object so they are not destroyed by the heat, yet they capture the Infrared emitted as this radiation travels virtually unlimited. Moreover, the wavelength and intensity of the radiation can be evaluated to allow for a pretty accurate temperature reading of the object. Still there are certain parameters to be set or taught to make the device work correctly. As many of these infrared thermometers are placed in hazardous or inaccessible places, a parametrization or adjustment directly at the device is often difficult or even impossible. Therefore, an intelligent interface is required both to monitor and read out data generated by the sensor and – even more important – to download parameters and other data to the sensor.

Technical basics of Infrared Hot-Metal-Detectors

Traditional photoelectric sensors generate a signal and receive in most cases a reflection of this signal. Contrary to this, an infrared sensor does not emit any signal. The physical basics of an infrared sensor is to detect infrared radiation which is emitted by any object.
Each body, with a temperature above absolute zero (-273.15°C or −459.67 °F) emits an
electromagnetic radiation from its surface, which is proportional to its intrinsic
temperature. This radiation is called temperature or heat radiation.

By use of different technologies, such as photodiodes or thermopiles, this radiation can be detected and measured over a long distance.

Key Advantages of Infrared Thermometry

This non-contact, optical-based measuring method offers various advantages over thermometers with direct contact:

  • Reactionless measurement, i.e. the measured object remains unaffected, making it possible to measure the temperature of very small parts
  • Very fast measuring frequence
  • Measurement over long distances is possible, measuring device can be located outside the hazardous area
  • Very hot temperatures can be measured
  • Object detection of very hot parts: pyrometers can be used for object detection of very hot parts where conventional optical sensors are limited by the high infrared radiation
  • Measurement of moving objects is possible
  • No wear at the measuring point
  • Non-hazardous measurement of electrically live parts

IO-Link for smarter sensors

IO-Link as sensor interface has been established for nearly all sensor types in the past 10 years. It is a standardized uniform interface for sensors and actuators irrespective of their complexity. They provide consistent communication between devices and the control system/HMI.  It also allows for a dynamic change of sensor parameters by the controller or the operator on the HMI thus reducing downtimes for product changeovers. If a device needs to be replaced there is automatic parameter reassignment as soon as the new device has been installed and connected. This too reduces manual intervention and prevents incorrect settings. No special device-proprietary software is needed and wiring is easy, using three wire standard cables without any need for shielding.

Therefore, IO-Link is the ideal interface for a non-contact temperature sensor.

All values and data generated within the temperature sensor can be uploaded to the control system and can be used for condition monitoring and preventive maintenance purposes. As steel plants need to know in-process data to maintain a constant high quality of their products, sensors that provide more data than just a binary signal will generate extra benefit for a reliable, smooth production in the Industry 4.0 realm.

To learn more about this 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.

Tool Identification in Metalworking

Guest contributor: Martin Kurzblog, Fan of Industrial Automation

With the start of industry 3.0 (the computer based automation of production) the users of machine tools began to avoid routine work like manually entering tool data into the HMI.  Computerized Numerical Controlled CNC machine tools gained more and more market share in metalworking applications.  These machines are quite often equipped with automatic tool change systems. For a correct production the real tool dimensions need to be entered into the CNC to define the tool path.

Tool ID for Automatic and Reliable Data Handling

Rather than entering the real tool diameter and tool length manually into the CNC, this data may be measured by a tool pre-setter and then stored in the RFID tool chip via an integrated RFID read-/write system. Typically when the tool is entered in the tool magazine the tool data are read by another read-/ write system which is integrated in the machine tool.

Globally in most cases the RFID tool chips are mounted in the tool holder (radially mounted eg. in SK or HSK holders).

In some applications the RFID tool chips are mounted in the pull stud (which holds the tool in the tool holder). Especially in Japan this tag position is used.

Tool Data for Different Levels of the Automation Pyramid

The tool data like tool diameters and tool lengths are relevant for the control level to guarantee a precise production of the workpieces.  Other data like planned and real tool usage times are relevant for industrial engineering and quality control to e.g. secure a defined surface finish of the workpieces.  Industrial engineers perform milling and optimization tests (with different rotational spindle speeds and tool feed rates) in order to find the perfect tool usage time as a balance between efficiency and quality.  These engineering activities typically are on the supervision level.  The procurement of new tools (when the existing tools are worn out after e.g.  5 to 10 grinding cycles) is conducted via the ERP System as a part of the asset management.

Coming back to the beginning of the 3rd industrial revolution the concept of CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing) was created, driven by the integration of computers and information technology (IT).

With the 4th industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, the success story of the Internet now adds cyber physical systems to industrial production.  Cloud systems support and speed up the communication between customers and suppliers.  Tool Management covers two areas of the Automation pyramid.

  1. Machine Control: From sensor / actuator level up to the control level (real time )
  2. Asset Management: Up to enterprise level and beyond (even to the “Cloud”)

To learn more about Tool ID visit www.balluff.com

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

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