Industry 4.0

Boost Connectivity with Non-Contact Couplings

Guest contributor, Shishir Rege, Balluff

In press shops or stamping plants, downtime can easily cost thousands of dollars in productivity. This is especially true in the progressive stamping process where the cost of downtime is a lot higher as the entire automated stamping line is brought to a halt.

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Many strides have been made in modern stamping plants over the years to improve productivity and reduce the downtime. This has been led by implementing lean philosophies and adding error proofing systems to the processes. In-die-sensing is a great example, where a few inductive or photo-eye sensors are added to the die or mold to ensure parts are seated well and that the right die is in the right place and in the right press. In-die sensing almost eliminated common mistakes that caused die or mold damages or press damages by stamping on multiple parts or wrong parts.

In almost all of these cases, when the die or mold is replaced, the operator must connect the on-board sensors, typically with a multi-pin Harting connector or something similar to have the quick-connect ability. Unfortunately, often when the die or mold is pulled out of the press, operators forget to disconnect the connector. The shear force excreted by the movement of removing the die rips off the connector housing. This leads to an unplanned downtime and could take roughly 3-5 hours to get back to running the system.

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Another challenge with the multi-conductor connectors is that over-time, due to repeated changeouts, the pins in the connectors may break causing intermittent false trips or wrong die identification. This can lead to serious damages to the system.

Both challenges can be solved easily with the use of a non-contact coupling solution. The non-contact coupling, also known as an inductive coupling solution, is where one side of the connectors called “Base” and the other side called “Remote” exchange power and signals across an air-gap. The technology has been around for a long time and has been applied in the industrial automation space for more than a decade primarily in tool changing applications or indexing tables as a replacement for slip-rings. For more information on inductive coupling here are a few blogs (1) Inductive Coupling – Simple Concept for Complex Automation Part 1,  (2) Inductive Coupling – Simple Concept for Complex Automation Part 2

For press automation, the “Base” side can be affixed to the press and the “Remote” side can be mounted on a die or mold, in such a way that when the die is placed properly, the two sides of the coupler can be in the close proximity to each other (within 2-5mm). This solution can power the sensors in the die and can help transfer up to 12 signals. Or, with IO-Link based inductive coupling, more flexibility and smarts can be added to the die. We will discuss IO-Link based inductive coupling for press automation in an upcoming blog.

Some advantages of inductive coupling over the connectorized solution:

  • Since there are no pins or mechanical parts, inductive coupling is a practically maintenance-free solution
  • Additional LEDs on the couplers to indicate in-zone and power status help with quick troubleshooting, compared to figuring out which pins are bad or what is wrong with the sensors.
  • Inductive couplers are typically IP67 rated, so water ingress, dust, oil, or any other environmental factor does not affect the function of the couplers
  • Alignment of the couplers does not have to be perfect if the base and remote are in close proximity. If the press area experiences drastic changes in humidity or temperature, that would not affect the couplers.
  • There are multiple form factors to fit the need of the application.

In short, press automation can gain a productivity boost, by simply changing out the connectors to non-contact ones.

 

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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 Factory Owners Can Avoid Choosing the Wrong Industry 4.0 Technology

Guest Contributor, Exor

This article provides a guide for factory owners and IT managers about the principles of lean manufacturing and the criteria to apply, in order to constantly work at optimizing factory outputs, and source the most cost-effective technology while reducing waste at the same time.

This article covers:

  • ‘No islands of automation’ is now ‘no island without a cloud’
  • What are the main types of benefits offered by technology suppliers?
  • Using Lean Manufacturing as a technology filter
  • How can Industry 4.0 concepts help with Lean Manufacturing?

Many factory owners and manufacturers are faced with the challenge of transforming their factories from Industry 2.0 to Industry 4.0 smart factories in order to optimize operational efficiency and automation and to stay ahead in the competitive manufacturing space. Certain customers may require additional customization of products and faster output times, which factories also have to take into account. A large part of optimization involves leveraging and implementing new technology such as IoT architecture and Industry 4.0 systems while reducing waste. Implementing new technology in a factory can be quite an undertaking, and it is advisable for factory owners and manufacturers to avoid costly technology investments which yield no net benefit to the factory at hand.

‘No islands of automation’ is now ‘no island without a cloud’

During the previous decade, many factory owners moved to automation due to the benefits and gains such as higher accuracy, higher productivity, job scheduling ability and availability that increased mechanization offered. They often heard the phrase and the principle of “no islands of automation” that meant they were to avoid automated sub-systems that were not integrated into the overall factory processes and automation and thus provided no benefit to the larger systems in the factory. The aim was to have complete, integrated production and assembly lines that manufactured products seamlessly and without lag time. Automation in and of itself had a significant effect on the factory floor and factory owners experienced an increase in productivity and a decrease in downtime and lag time.

Now those same factory owners are hearing, “no island without a cloud”, since there is a push from IoT companies to promote cloud-based connectivity and solutions and store all the data the factory at hand is generating, in the cloud. The industrial sector is approaching standard cloud-based solutions with caution since there are concerns about the security of data, cost, bandwidth and latency. Even though the cloud does confer benefits to the Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Newer, emerging approaches are looking at using open standards such as OPC UA to control any machine in real-time and implementing machine to machine communication to reduce data storage requirements. The data is then collected and sent to a fog computer or processed at the edge closer to where the machines actually are located, to reduce the concerns with the standard cloud options such as cost and security.

What are the main types of benefits offered by technology suppliers?

Some of the key functionality related to Industry 4.0 technology that suppliers can provide and factory owners should take into consideration are:

1) Data-Driven Plant Performance Optimization

Data-driven plant performance optimization refers to collecting and using data generated by the factory machinery, sensors, HMIs, PLCs, staff and SCADA systems in order to enhance plant operations and processes. The data cycle for plant optimization involves recording and monitoring data, uploading data, analysis of the uploaded data and the reporting of this data using IoT gateways and IoT architecture in the Industry 4.0 context. This optimization should strive to maintain Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), which is a measure of how effective the plant and its industrial equipment are. A process that receives a 100% OEE score means that it has a high-quality output that is as efficient as possible with no machine downtime.

2) Data-Driven Inventory Optimization

Data-Driven Inventory Optimization refers to the process of using real-time data to manage inventory. For example, consider a construction industry scenario where units of supply are labelled with RFID tags and an IoT system can count them. As soon as the supply units drop below a certain level, the sensors trigger an alarm and more supply units are purchased. Consequently, downtime is avoided and the project is more likely to be completed in the scheduled time frame.

3) Data-Driven Quality Control

Due to the ability of IoT systems to collect and manage big data, the IT provider should provide software that is able to develop quality-control models and profiles based on the data. Therefore, each product can be compared in real-time to these profiles (which were based on thousands or hundreds of thousands of data samples) and either rejected or accepted.

4) A Machine as a Service Business Model

This model allows factory owners to turn their machines into stand-alone income generating streams, in addition to the revenue the machine generates from being part of the internal factory processes and production line. So in this model, a specific machine in the factory can be outsourced to a customer or another company that needs it for a set amount of time, and this customer can, through the IoT platform, receive real-time data about the products or services for which they are using that particular machine. A technology supplier should be able to provide HMIs or other systems that enable this multifunctionality. So the factory should be able to receive data about the internal processes the machine is part of and the company hiring the machine should also be able to receive data about the machine and its outputs relevant to their needs.

5) Human Data Interface

The Human Data Interface refers to the platform used for humans to engage with the data, this could be via calls to a database, an HMI, or even a smartphone. The technology provider at hand should provide an interface that allows personnel to engage with the data and draw insights from it.

6) Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance refers to the use of data generated by a certain machine, in order to predict the chances of failure of that specific machine before the actual failure takes place. The maintenance of the machine then takes place proactively rather than reactively. This reduces downtime significantly.

7) Remote Service

Remote service refers to the ability to remotely monitor or repair machinery. This allows repair and maintenance to take place from anywhere and saves the factory owner the cost of transporting machinery to a repair site to be fixed.

8) Virtual Training and Validation

Virtual training refers to training that is provided in a virtual capacity through the use of AI glasses. So, personnel can access this training and learn more about the factory processes in an online environment. Validation refers to the ability of the IoT system to check that the training received was actually beneficial to the staff and the factory. This is done by using sensors to compare the finished products of the factory before and after the completion of training, in order to see if there is a positive difference. Validation also involves using AI glasses to see if the staff member is actually implementing the training received on the shop floor.

Using Lean Manufacturing as a technology filter

Lean manufacturing is based on the concept of eliminating waste from factory processes while ensuring that the customer or client receives the maximum value. Lean manufacturing looks at optimizing the delivery of products in horizontal value streams that ultimately connect to customers. It is about evaluating what is adding value to the customer versus what is adding waste or is not beneficial to the factory.

It is systematic and there are five main principles involved in lean manufacturing:

  • The first principle involves identifying what value actually means to the customer, which will help the factory estimate how much the customer will be willing to pay for their products and services. If waste is removed, then the customer’s price can be met at the best profit margins for the company.
  • The second principle involves mapping the value stream, which means looking at the flow of input materials required to produce the product in its entirety. Emphasis is of course placed on reducing waste.
  • The third principle looks at removing operational barriers and interruptions to this flow.
  • The fourth principle looks at using a pull system where nothing is bought until there is a demand for it. The pull system is based on effective communication and flexibility.
  • The fifth principle looks at continuously improving and striving for perfection in the process.

Lean manufacturing principles can be beneficial for factory owners since they can be used as a technology filter or criteria in order to ensure that any technology implemented in the factory contributes to the reduction of waste and horizontal value streams. The technology in other words should contribute to the reduction of waste, the reduction in standing inventory, increased factory outputs, decreased production costs, and increased labour productivity.

How can Industry 4.0 concepts help with Lean Manufacturing?

…with Data-Driven Plant Performance

Data-Driven Plant Performance as discussed above refers to the use of data in real-time to increase production. This happens simultaneously while using the data to identify areas of waste and unproductivity. Data-driven plant performance contributes significantly to all the five main lean manufacturing principles since customers receive value, the mapping of the value chains are guided by actual data received in real-time, and the data helps identify the barriers such as when there is downtime and which machine/process is causing the downtime, so this can be instantly rectified. Additionally, since there is constant delivery of data from multiple sources in the factory to the staff and personnel of the factory – they can develop pull systems due to the ease of communication and the constant analytical processing of the data. Furthermore, the continuous development of useful models based on big data and real-time data allows for continuous improvement.

…with Data-Driven Quality Control

Data-driven quality control as mentioned above looks at comparing a sample or material to a profile developed from big data rather than conducting many expensive quality-control tests on every single sample in the production line. This fits in with the concept of lean manufacturing since the number of tests is reduced but quality control is maintained.

…with Virtual Training and Validation

Virtual training and validation look at providing training in virtual environments using AI glasses and validating through the use of AI glasses that the training was beneficial, effective and actually implemented. One of the main aspects of lean manufacturing focuses on training staff about lean principles in the factory since staff are a critical component in any factory environment. Therefore, through the use of AI glasses, staff can be trained and guided on lean manufacturing principles in the factory environment they are operating in. Additionally, the AI glasses can validate that staff actually are implementing the training they received in the factory. Consequently, the lean manufacturing concepts of waste reduction and optimization of product delivery will be felt throughout the factory as a result of both virtual training and validation.

Conclusion

Industry 4.0 concepts such as connecting multiple machines, machine-to-machine communication, human-machine communication, real-time data delivery, big data processing and analytical operations really tie in with the fourth principle of lean manufacturing.

Most manufacturers not using lean manufacturing principles rely on a push system which is based on standard forecasting techniques. Production is aligned to those pre-determined set forecasts. This can be problematic since some standard forecasting techniques are inaccurate, increase waste and are not effective. The lean manufacturing pull principle of not producing anything until there is a demand relies heavily on effective communication. With the correct choice of Industry 4.0 technology, this effective communication system can be developed and thus reduce waste and optimize overall factory efficiency.

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Exor 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 Emergence of Device-level Safety Communications in Manufacturing

Guest Contributor: Tom Knauer, Balluff

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

System Perfection – VX25

Guest contributor: Rittal Ltd.

The VX25 is the first large enclosure system capable of meeting the technical requirements of Industry 4.0 to perfection, while at the same time ensuring faster, more productive assembly. This Rittal innovation is the result of our tireless striving for MORE: more simplicity, more speed, more benefits. More than 25 registered property rights confirm the reputation Rittal has earned as the leading innovator in enclosure technology.

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1. Efficient processes

End-to-end, accurate, validated 3D data ensure a high level of planning confidence from the outset. A plausibility check in the Rittal Configuration System facilitates fast, error-free configuration of products and accessories.

2. Reduced complexity

In the VX25, we have managed to successfully replicate all the functions of the predecessor model TS 8 with far fewer accessory parts, while creating new functions and adding value. A consistent 25 mm pitch pattern across all levels and between enclosures has helped to significantly reduce the number of individual parts – for example, 40 per cent fewer punched sections/rails.

3. Improved access

The VX25 is accessible from all four sides, because components can now also be fitted to the outer mounting level from the outside. This saves 30 minutes compared with conventional assembly.  The same applies to the new option of installing mounting plates from the rear.

4. Simple interior installation

Fast assembly is facilitated by complete symmetry on all vertical and horizontal enclosure sides. The installation depth can also be increased by 20 mm with optional accessories. Multiple mounting plates can also be installed in one enclosure.

5. Tool-free installation

The simple, tool-free assembly of the handle system reduces assembly time by 50 percent. Similarly, doors can also be fitted and removed without the need for tools.

6. More functions

Even enclosure accessories can now be built into the base. For example, baying brackets and cable clamp rails can be installed there, and cables can be simply and efficiently retained and secured via the punched sections. Not only does that save time and money, it also boosts safety.

Learn more: https://www.rittal.com/com_en/vx25/index.php?lng=en

 

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.

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Time is money: snappy automation of testing machines

Guest contributor: Andreas Sokoll, Bosch Rexroth

Usefully combining automation and IT is not only typical of Industry 4.0. In the engineering of measuring and testing machines, open interfaces also unleash great potential for efficiency. With the aid of National Instruments’ LabVIEW graphic programming environment and Open Core Engineering, they can now be modelled and automated in an integrated manner without creating a separate PLC code. The effect: a significantly quicker time to market!

Why complicate things if they can be actually be done simply

The idea of precisely modeling customer-specific measuring and testing machines without having to acquire and coordinate an additional PLC programmer is very attractive to many manufacturers. That’s because, until now, they had to program I/O queries and axis motions separately and transfer them into a joint machine program throughout all the development phases. An irksome and time-consuming task, which introduces additional sources of errors. However, this cost and quality-related factor can be minimized if the development environment communicates directly with the control core.

Modeling measuring and testing machines without additional PLC programming: in National Instruments’ LabVIEW programming environment, manufacturers can execute the motion sequences as well as measuring and testing tasks. The Open Core Interface acts as an open interface between the control system and the PC.

Parameterizing instead of programming

National Instruments’ LabVIEW graphic programming environment, which is widely used in the measuring and testing machines field, satisfies this requirement by supporting Bosch Rexroth’s Open Core Interface. Development engineers therefore get direct access to the control functions via their usual interface. Device drivers and functions can consequently be quickly and simply selected as graphic modules (Virtual Instruments) and then only need to be parameterized. This also speeds up commissioning. This is because, in addition to the measuring and testing applications, the full machine workflow can now be mapped in LabVIEW, and consequently in a joint project. There’s no need for the PLC code to be written in parallel and continually coordinated.

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Reduced engineering workload: Since LabVIEW supports Bosch Rexroth’s Open Core Interface, machine developers no longer have to work in two environments. The axis motions can also now be produced directly in LabVIEW.

Over 550 VIs to be parameterized

With its Open Core Interface, Bosch Rexroth has established the basis for not only the graphic LabVIEW language but also other modern high-level languages, software solutions from the simulation and model-based engineering fields, and open i4.0 standards such as OPC-UA being able to access control functions directly. The seamless integration in the respective programming environment is achieved by using a software development kit (SDK). In the case of LabVIEW, it contains more than 550 Virtual Instruments (VIs). They control the connection set up (ApiLib), access to direct motion commands (MotionLib), and access to the control system (SytemLib) or the drive and control parameters (ParameterLib) among other things. They are clearly structured in function libraries and they can be simply dragged & dropped into the project and then parameterized.

Motion PLC, drive and control functions: The LabVIEW SDK contains eight libraries with over 550 additional Virtual Instruments.

Fully fledged HMI for M2M communication

Both the “front panel” and “block diagram” programming windows that are typical of LabIEW now form a fully fledged user interface for man-machine communication. The block diagram shows the flow logic in the form of VIs and links, and all the control and display elements appear in the front panel, e.g. buttons, switches or graphical displays. So direct operation of the machine is also possible. For instance, in order to move an axis, the programmer simply activates the corresponding VI. The SDK provides numerous example projects illustrating the initial steps. The HMI templates that they contain can be quickly adapted to the respective requirements.

BlockdiagrammSimple block diagram: In this example, the logically linked Virtual Instruments read a value from the control unit.

Force measurement practical example

Force measurements are by far the most common form of test task. Including handling tasks, an estimated 90 to 95 percent of all measuring and testing tasks can in practice be carried out just by using LabVIEW. Here’s an example of the monitoring of a joining process:

A DIN 625 industrial bearing is to be pressed into a tolerance ring in a controlled manner. In order to control the linear axis motion, measure the pressing force and compare it with the tolerance range, the programmer divides the project into five steps: Connect, move (axes into position), start force control and measuring, measurement completed, and retract axis. The programming takes place purely in LabVIEW with the aid of self-explanatory VIs such as “Standstill”, “MoveVelocity”, “Continuous Motion” or “Stop”. The VIs are linked by connections in the graphical user interface and are activated and deactivated via target and transfer values such as “TRUE” and “FALSE”.

HMIQuick access to the desired operating interfaces: The SDK for LabVIEW comes with lots of example projects in which the HMI can be quickly and easily adjusted.

Complete control set from a single source

In addition to pure modeling and programming in LabVIEW, as a system manufacturer Bosch Rexroth provides even more ways of increasing engineering efficiency. In the practical example shown for instance, the press-fit procedure is carried out via an energy-efficient electromechanical cylinder (EMC) with an integrated force sensor and drive. In combination with an IndraControl XM control this produces a fast, higher-level control loop in which the mechanical and electrical components work together optimally with short cycle times of 250 µs. The test system is quick to set up so it can precisely control the force moments which arise, run at constant speeds and position the work piece in a highly dynamic, flexible and precise manner depending on the requirements. A Bosch Rexroth linear motion technology tolerance ring is used as a frictionally engaged connection element for the insertion of the bearing.

Quicker to market due to large time savings

With the aid of LabVIEW and the Open Core Interface technology, together with Bosch Rexroth’s modern automation solutions, precise movements can be carried out in measuring and testing machines even without any PLC programming – including interfaces, handshakes and synchronization. For users this results in an enormous saving of time, especially since troubleshooting can also concentrate on one instead of two programming environments. This considerable time saving enables manufacturers of measuring and testing machines to bring innovative and complex products to market much more quickly and also inexpensively than before – but without compromising on quality.

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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.

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Learn more about Rexroth and IO-Link

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