IIoT

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.

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.

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.

5 Common IIoT Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Guest contributor: Pat Millott, Balluff

IIoT is the perfect solution for all your data accessibility needs, right? If you check out my previous blogs, I discussed the many benefits of using the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to remotely access data. However, if not used properly, IIoT can get you into some trouble. Let’s review 5 common mistakes to avoid when building your IIoT application.

1. Excluding your IT department
It’s crucial to make sure your Information Technology group is involved in this project. IIoT applications can be very taxing on your network. It’s easy to forget some key aspects like bandwidth and network traffic when developing your application. But when your application is finished, your IT department is going to want to know what network resources that are being used. Some questions they might ask include:

  • How many potential clients will the server have at any given time?
  • What is the max refresh rate of your application?
  • How frequent do you query the SQL server?
  • How are your queries structured?
  • What might be some vulnerabilities on this application?
  • What measures are you taking to protect these vulnerabilities?

It’s going to be a lot easier if they are included right away so everyone has a good understanding of what resources are available and how to protect them.

2. Excluding OT and Controls Engineers
Similar to the IT department, it’s important to include the controls engineer especially if you plan on hosting data from a PLC. The controls engineer is going to want to determine what data is publicly available and what data should be kept private. Some questions the controls engineer(s) might ask include:

  • What is your application trying to show?
  • What PLC data do you want to use for this?
  • Is your application going to write data to the PLC?
  • Do any modifications need to be made to the PLC code?

Keep in mind that any modifications that need to be made to the PLC will probably have to go through the controls engineer. This is to ensure that no code changes on the PLC will impact the efficiency and safety of production.

3. Running out of date software
Software that you write and the software that your application relies on should always be up to date. In other words, if you use a module or library in your code, it’s important to make sure you have the most up to date version. Also, it’s important to keep updating your application for additional security and functionality. Out of date software can lead to potential application crashes or even vulnerabilities for cyber attacks. Keep in mind, an application that runs on out of date software makes the server host vulnerable as well as its clients.

IIoT_Pyramid4. Unorganized data flow
Data flow is an important concept to consider early on in the development of your application. Say you have a server forwarding PLC data to a SQL database that is then utilized in a web application. The web application acts as a historian and analyzes data change over time. Is it better to calculate the data in the back-end application, the SQL database, the server forwarding the data or the PLC? The answer depends on the situation but typically, it’s best to keep the data calculations as close to the source as possible. For example, say your back-end application calculates percentages based on yesterday’s production compared to today’s. In this situation, if the back-end application crashes, you lose historian calculations. Typically, a SQL database is much more reliable as far as downtime and crashes and it will run whether your back-end application is functional or not. Therefore, it would be better to do these calculations in the SQL database rather than the back-end script. Continuing this concept, what if the PLC could do this calculation? Now the forwarding server, the SQL database, and the back-end script can all crash and you would still have your historian data for when they go back up. For this reason, the closer to the source of data you get, the more reliable your calculations based on that data will be.

5. Unprotected sensitive data
Possibly one of the most important things to remember when developing your application. Even simple applications that just display PLC data can give a hacker enough for an attack. Think about this IoT scenario: Say I have a server that hosts data from my personal home such as whether or not my front door is locked. This information is important to me if I want to check if someone forgot to lock the front door. But to a burglar, this data is just as useful if not more as he/she can now check the status of my door without having to leave their car. If I don’t protect this data, I am openly advertising to the world when my front door is unlocked. This is why encryption is crucial for sensitive data. This is also why it’s important to discuss you project with the controls engineer. Data that seems harmless might actually be detrimental to host publicly.

Data accessibility is evolving from a convenience to a necessity. Everyone’s in a hurry to get their data into the cloud but keeping these ideas in mind early on in the application development process will save everyone a headache later on. That way, IIoT really can be the perfect solution for all you data accessibility needs.

To learn more about IIoT visit www.balluff.us.

About 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.

How do I see PLC data from my smartphone?

Guest contributor, Pat Millot, Balluff

From my smartphone, I can do anything from making coffee to adjusting my home thermostat. This wave of appliances and other physical devices connecting and communicating through a network is known as the Internet of Things and it’s playing a crucial role in industry. With the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) we can now monitor PLC data without ever intruding on the PLC. Let’s take a look at how I implemented PLC tags on a web application.

IIoT_computer The first step is to download OPC UA historian software. OPC UA stands for Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture. OPC is a client/server communication standard that was made as a gateway between the PLC and a Windows PC. The UA was added as an upgrade that allowed communication across other operating systems such as Linux and iOS along with other added functionality improvements. Once this software is running and the PLC and PC are communicating, we can work on hosting that data.

IIoT_StructureHosting the controller data can seem like a daunting task at first due to the many different options in software and programming languages to use. For example: Ruby, PHP, ASP, ASP.NET and much more are available for back-end development. For my web app, I used SQL to host the data from the OPC UA software. As for the back-end, I went with node.js because it has great packages for working with SQL; in addition to the fact that node.js uses JavaScript syntax which I’m familiar with. The front end of the app was written with HTML and CSS with JavaScript for interactivity. With all these elements in place, I was ready to host the server on the PC to host PLC data.

With smart IO-Link sensors on our conveyor I was able to look at diagnostic and functional data in the PLC and setup an interactive screen at the conveyor for viewing production and maintenance information.

And now I can even check my sensor outputs with the same smartphone that just made my coffee and adjusted my office’s temperature.

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You can learn more about the Industrial Internet of Things at www.balluff.us.

Shop Balluff products online at www.cmafh.com