With the demands for flexible manufacturing, efficient production & visibility in our factories, smart manufacturing is driving the way we work today. Analytics and diagnostics are becoming critical to our ability to perform predictive maintenance, improve equipment effectiveness and monitor the condition of the machine as well as the components inside the machine. Typically, our first reaction is to put these devices onto Ethernet. However, the implementation of Ethernet requires a high skill set that is scarce in our traditional manufacturers today. Due to the simple control architecture of IO-Link devices, it allows for many Smart devices to provide the data we need for analytics with a reduction in the Ethernet skill set that has become a roadblock for many manufacturers.
Many people think IO-Link is a new industrial network to compete with EtherNet/IP or Profinet, but this is a common misconception. IO-Link is complementary to those networks and typically enables those networks to do even more than previously thought.
IO-Link is an open standard designed with the idea to act like USB for industrial automation. IO-Link is meant to simplify the smart sensor & intelligent device connectivity on the factory floor in a similar way that USB simplified connectivity to computers for auxiliary devices. IO-Link is not an industrial network or fieldbus; it is an industrial network and industrial controller agnostic. Designed with a master to slave configuration, addressing of the devices is point-to-point, similar to USB. Compatible IO-Link masters can act as slaves or nodes on a variety of industrial protocols and act complementary to the network of the user’s choosing. Eliminating the need for serial communication configuration or network addressing simplifies the connection and integration of devices.
Value in Machine Builds
IO-Link has advantages for both machine builders and discrete manufacturers. For machine builders, the biggest advantage comes from the simplified wiring scheme of IO-Link devices. We have seen machine builder users of IO-Link reduce their wiring hardware & labor costs by 30%-60% for sensors,
outputs & controls. This is realized with the simple sensor tool cords used for connections, quick-disconnect connectors on the cables and machine mount Ethernet masters devices. It is also realized for machine builders in an increase of turns on their floor, a reduction in build labor and significantly faster commissioning time.
Value on the Production Floor
For discrete manufacturers, the biggest advantages have come from the parameterization and diagnostic features on the IO-Link devices. With the ability to store & send parameters between the master & slave, IO-Link devices can be automatically configured. Hot-swapping a complex smart device like a pressure sensor can go from a stressful ordeal including 14-plus setpoints to literally a push of one button. Combining this functionality with multiple diagnostics both in the master & slaves eliminates human error and dramatically reduces downtime & troubleshooting for manufacturers.
To learn more about market leading IO-Link technologies, visit www.balluff.com.
A few months ago a customer and I met to discuss their Industry 4.0 & IIoT pilot project. We discussed technology options and ways to collect data from the existing manufacturing process. Options like reading the data directly from the PLC or setting up an OPC service to request machine data were discussed; however these weren’t preferable as it required modifying the existing PLC code to make the solution effective. “What I really want is the ability to capture the data from the devices directly and not impact the control of my existing automation equipment.” Whether his reason was because of machine warranty conflicts or the old adage, “don’t fix what ain’t broke” the general opinion makes sense.
Capture versus Control.
So then truly connected IIoT automation solutions that are “Ready for IIoT” need to support this basic concept of “Capture versus Control.” We have a strong portfolio of products with Industrial Internet of Things capabilities, check them out at www.balluff.com.
What are the key components to being successful when implementing Industrial IoT? There are three major components to consider when beginning your pilot project for Industry 4.0: Strategy, Data & Action. With a clear understanding of each of these components, successful implementations are closer than you think.
Strategy: What is your plan? What do you need to know? Who needs to know what? How do we enable people to make the right decisions? What standards will we follow? How often do we need the data? What data don’t we need?
Data Generation: Devices need to generate cyclic data giving insight into the process and warning/event data to give insight into issues. Devices should support protocols that allow requesting data without impacting the control system and structured in a way that’s logical and easy to manipulate.
Data Management: How are we going to handle our data? What structure does it need to be in? Do we need internal and external access to the data? What security requirements do we need to consider? Which users will need the data? Where is the data coming from? How much data are we talking about?
Data Analytics: Insight, Big Data, Predictive Analytics, etc. These insights from an industrial point of view should truly drive productivity for every user. Predictive Analytics should help us know when and where to perform maintenance on equipment and dramatically reduce downtime in the plant.
Action: The key component of any IIoT Success. Without daily decisions based on the strategy by every employee, failure is assured. Supply chain needs to know that we are interested in not just the cheapest replacement component, but one that can help us generate data to improve our analytic capabilities. Maintenance needs to be taking action on Predictive outputs and move from randomly fighting fires to purposefully preventing downtime all together.
We have a strong portfolio of automation devices that enable data generation for IIoT applications, check them out at www.balluff.com.
As we wrap up our second annual manufacturing day event at Balluff (Oct 7th 2016), I am motivated to see so many kids and adults excited about manufacturing. This is an amazing industry to be a part of and as the 4th industrial revolution is upon us, we must inspire the next generation to see the light.
At Balluff’s MFGDAY event, we offered hourly time slots for attendees. During that hour, they received a plant tour and participated in hands-on labs. The tour focused on lean manufacturing work-cells, automated systems, and lot-size-one flexible manufacturing. Visitors learned how these tools are utilized at a US manufacturer to be competitive in a global market, how manufacturing technologies are utilized and how STEM education is applied in a manufacturing environment.
The hands-on labs were by far the favorite part for most attendees. We offered 5 hands-on labs from a speed game of flexible manufacturing to technology discovery experience about infrared light. Each lab taught the students and parents about how different sensor technologies worked and created a positive effect on the manufacturing process.
Outside the labs, interactive automation games were available to play and win prizes. The automated bags game was a hit with adults and kids and our RFID tag catapult game took quite a lot of skill. Everything was designed to inspire interest in manufacturing automation and help educate both adults and aspiring students to consider careers in advanced manufacturing.
Our motivation at Balluff to participate in MFGDAY is three-fold:
Bridge the US Manufacturing Skills Gap. Help our manufacturing community bridge the 600k+skills gap by building interest in the public for a career in manufacturing.
Connect with our community. We want to be involved in our community, improve outcomes for local students and support the local economy. That’s why we partnered with local schools like Gateway Community College and Cincinnati State to turn a budding interest into a solid path.
Motivate our employees. Talking about how awesome manufacturing is is fun. And seeing the excitement of a little kid when they can see infrared light through a cellphone camera was the highlight of many employees’ day.
As attendees left the event we asked them a few questions to gauge their interests and the effect of the day on their attitudes toward manufacturing. I am happy to report that we increased an interest in manufacturing careers by 22% in both kids and adults. Many people walked away with a better understanding of how STEM education can positively affect manufacturing careers and 90% agreed that factory automation is cool. Check out our new infographic on MFGDAY16 at Balluff and our press release has event more details.
We have been talking about IO-Link for a long time. The benefits to manufacturers like “hot-swapping” a smart device. One of the benefits for machine builder is reducing commissioning time. So it was not surprising to me to find IO-Link on the exhibit floor at IMTS 2016, but it was surprising how much IO-Link was used on equipment and demonstrations.
On a cool demo of robotic load and unload of two machining centers from the team at Makino Machine IO-Link was used for I/O applications driving solenoids and collecting sensor inputs.
What is neat about I/O hubs regardless of the brand is the ability to collect many simple discrete sensor inputs and drive outputs over one IO-Link channel. It can save tim dramatically over traditional hardwired applications.
At Beckhoff they were showing their IO-Link master options for a slice in the PLC.
Molex displayed their Profinet IO-Link master and slave devices like analog converter and digital I/O hubs. What I liked about their demo is they showed how open and easy the IO-Link technology is to integrate other company’s devices like the Balluff SmartLight.
In the Klingelnberg booth on one of their flagship machines IO-Link masters and SmartLight were installed on the machine. IO-Link inductive positioning Smart Sensors from Balluff were used for measurement of the chucking position.
And inter-operability was also shown with multiple manufacturer’s process sensors with IO-Link installed tied back to a Profinet master. Since IO-Link is an open standard with over 90 automation vendors, it was nice to see the inter-operability in action.
The SmartLight was shown all over the IMTS show due to Caron Engineering’s easy integration into a PC without an industrial network. Too many booths to name had the SmartLight integrated with the Caron IO-Link Master solution.
The fact that IO-Link can be used with multiple master interfaces and options, really makes it an easy to select and universal choice for a variety of applications.
I look forward to seeing what unfolds in the two years before the next IMTS show. I anticipate there will be a dramatic and continued adoption of IO-Link as it enables and scales Industry 4.0 and IIoT applications.
To see more or join the conversation check out #IMTS2016 on Twitter.
(If you aren’t sure what Industry 4.0 or IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) are, take a look at these previous blog entries.)
I’m amazed at all the research published each week presenting the value Industry 4.0 and IIoT are bringing to manufacturing. And the articles about Industry 4.0 and IIoT are not just in industry rags, there are mainstream publications like Fortune & Forbes who are aware of and presenting the power of Industry 4.0 to the masses.
So as I look at the economic effects of IIoT, Morgan Stanley sees: investments in the automation industry are expected to grow at a faster pace than the GDP, capital budgets for IIoT type investments will grow 18% and greater than 70% of respondents believe IIoT is an important strategy for their company. And with 73% of companies investing more than 20% of their technology budget on Big Data analytics and growing, this trend toward Industry 4.0 does not seem to be letting up.
But why are manufacturer’s making these investments?
This infographic really summarizes well how I feel our situation in the US today is laid out.
We need upgrades and investment in US manufacturing infrastructure. And to remain successful we need to improve production efficiency and evolve towards flexible manufacturing processes. In a recent survey from SCM World the benefits of Smart Manfucaturing and can provide a 48% reduction in unplanned downtime from IIoT solutions. WOW! Can you imagine the kinds of investments we could make if we weren’t throwing our money into the downtime fire? In this same survey close to two thirds of respondents said they are ready now or will be in 5 years for implementation of IIoT solutions.
The kind of focus and growth I’m reading about every week is driving investments and benefits for all stakeholders in manufacturing and it would be smart to take a look at where your company stacks up.
If you are interested in seeing how Balluff enables & scales Industry 4.0 and IIoT, visit our website at www.balluff.us.
Ask 10 engineers working in Food & Beverage manufacturing what “washdown” means to them and you will probably get about 12 answers. Ask them why they wash down equipment and a more consistent answer appears, everyone is concerned about making clean healthy food and they want to reduce areas of harborage for bacteria. These environments tend to be cool & wet which usually leads the engineers to ask for 316L stainless steel & ingress protection of IP69K from component manufacturers and also ask for special component ratings.
So what are the basic elements of the washdown procedure?
Hot! – Minimum 140F to kill microbes & bacteria.
High Pressure! – Up to 1000psi to blast away soiled material.
As we wrap up the old and begin to open up the new, let’s take a moment to reflect on what this past year has brought us. Apart from the triumphs and the hard lost battles, we want to bring you some of our top posts from 2015. These posts are as follows:
Who doesn’t like complicated concepts broken down into easy to understand terminology? In this post we break down the differences between point level detection and continuous position sensing as well as provide you with technologies to put into practice.
So you just got a brand spanking new 2-wire sensor for the holidays but you realize you don’t know exactly what wire goes where. In this post we make wiring that bad boy easy and even break down what polarized and non-polarized mean.
So we have covered four of the top posts from 2015, are you ready for the number one post from the past year? So are we! And we will have it for you right after a quick message from our sponsors! (just kidding!)
Through the use of magnetic induction, we are able to reduce the downtime of a machine due to the failure of a slip ring. Inductive couplers pass power and data over an air gap creating a maintenance free, non-contact environment to operate a variety of machinery.
We want to thank you for the wonderful year that is behind us and be sure to be on the look-out for even more exciting news to come this year!
Wow! Talk about a fun, energizing and educational event for employees, students and the community. Balluff just completed our first year participating in Manufacturing Day as a host company. We had over 100 students, kids, parents, teachers, customers and retirees visit our facility over 6 hours during a rainy Friday. We ran tours every hour that consisted of a hands-on lab that taught the difference between manual and automated processes, tours of our production and warehouse facility and a review of how automation is used in a variety of industries.During any downtime the participants could also visit our newly constructed Automation in Action Demo Van (Twitter: @balluffbus) and learn about how sensor technologies support automation in manufacturing.
The high school students that visited loved the hands on applications and asked questions with an engaging and excited spirit that was inspiring. We engaged with some home schooling groups and had a great turnout from those folks as well. I loved how eager all the kids were to learn about sensors and automation. Even the big kids found value and inspiration. The posts on the Balluff facebook page I believe say it all:
Thank you guys so much for the tour! We had fun and learned a lot. The kids have been playing make believe with sensors and their badges since we got home.
Thank you for the wonderful tour! My husband and I really enjoyed it! It’s nice seeing the mechanics behind the some of the equipment that we’ve used in the chemical industry and manufacturing processes!
But the best part of this event was how inspiring it was to our employees. Both those giving the tours, participating at the signup table or hands-on labs and even those who were not direct participants. Everyone was so proud and excited to share with the community our passion for automation and how committed we are to our customer’s success. Manufacturing is a great industry, with great opportunities and its great to share that spark with others.
Thank you to everyone who attended, participated in and supported this great event! You can see more photos from the event on our Flickr page.
In automated manufacturing, part quality issues are a weekly discussion and this continues to be true in most weld shops across North America. One of the more common issues that I encounter in discussions with customers involves nuts being welded to a part.
Nut problems seem to come in a variety of frustrations:
no nut present
There are many different sensing technologies that have been applied or attempted over the years for weld nut detection and each has its pros and cons. In my travels I have personally encountered technologies like machine vision, mechanical plungers, inductive proximity sensors, photoelectric sensors, specially designed “nut sensors” and linear position sensors, to name a few. The biggest complaints I hear about different technologies is either they are unreliable/unrepeatable or they aren’t rugged enough to survive a hit from big metal parts or they can’t take the heat of close proximity to welding.
Repeatedly we have found two technologies are finding success for tough weld nut detection applications in two different parts of the production process.
Post Process Check Stations – Mechanical Contact with PlungerProx sensor. This sensor uses a spring loaded pin sized for the proper nut to detect presence, is easily repairable (if necessary) and has the ability to adapt to a wide range of nut threads and diameters.
In-Process Check on Pedestal Welders – Linear position feedback on the height of the weld gun can provide exact measurements and feedback on the status of the weld nut from presence to orientation of the nut.
I acknowledge that every nut and every application are different. I regularly see the key to success is to test and discuss with your local sensor guy about the best technology for the situation. If you are interested in discussing a particularly difficult application please connect with me on Linked-In or Twitter @WillAutomate.