It’s the worst when a network goes down on a piece of equipment. No diagnostics are available to help troubleshooting and all communication is dead. The only way to find the problem is to physically and visually inspect the hardware on the network until you can find the culprit. Many manufacturers have told me over the past few months about experiences they’ve had with down networks and how a simple cable or connector is to blame for hours of downtime.
By utilizing IO-Link, which has been discussed in these earlier blogs, and by changing the physical routing of the network hardware, you can now eliminate the loss of communication. The expandable architecture of IO-Link allows the master to communicate over the industrial network and be mounted in a “worry-free” zone away from any hostile environments. Then the IO-Link device is mounted in the hostile environment like a weld cell and it is exposed to the slag debris and damage. If the IO-Link device fails due to damage, the network remains connected and the IO-Link master reports detailed diagnostics on the failure and which device to replace. This can dramatically reduce the amount of time production is down. In addition the IO-Link device utilizes a simple sensor cable for communication and can use protection devices designed for these types of cables. The best part of this is that the network keeps communicating the whole time.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits that IO-Link can provide to manufacturers visit www.balluff.us.
During the recent economic downturn, businesses have lost scores of experienced, trained personnel who were very familiar with (among other things) monitoring the health of their DeviceNet System and who may have been responsible for keeping things “up and running”. Now that business is ramping back up, companies are running lean and we’re all doing “more with less” of everything (including people), the need for rapidly diagnosing issues on a DeviceNet system has increased. These reasons are exactly why the DeviceNet Analyzer was developed.
The analyzer is a collection of components used for analysis, monitoring and maintaining DeviceNet systems without having to call a third-party to conduct these procedures. The ROI is amazingly fast after technicians have been trained on the use of this powerful tool for checking DeviceNet and CAN bus installations:
Analyze and track down telegrams with poor signal quality. Check for causes of faults, like missing bus terminations (or too many bus terminations), faulty bus drivers, or trunk and drop lines that are too long.
Physical cable troubleshooting is accomplished on a “wire test” function that detects the location of cable breaks and short circuits. “Weak Spots” like incorrect cable types, lengths, and faulty plugs are also located.
Monitor…comparisons can be made at regular or continuous intervals via an online function. Gradual degradation of system quality can be seen and proactive preventative maintenance can in turn be enacted.
If you have DeviceNet “Heartburn”…there is an Antacid! For more information on the DeviceNet Analyzer, click here or watch the video below.
I am seriously excited about the new Smart Light. It will revolutionize how we automate and interface with people working in the manufacturing environment. If you didnt watch this video… you need to watch this video.
Even if you don’t know what a stack light is, you will want one of these for your discotec to light it up!
Operating on the open communication protocol IO-Link that I have discussed in previous posts, I think this single part number will improve the factory for:
an operator wanting to know when to refill a feederbowl, position a part, or empty a full output bin
a maintenance guy needing to know what cell is causing the machine downtime
a plant manager wanting to know the machine output, speed, productivity
I’ve recently heard this comparison used a number of times and the parallels are quite interesting. USB was designed to help standardize a dizzying array of connectors and configurations of supplementary devices that developed during the age of the Compaq vs IBM. It always took days to configure and establish communication between devices and then finally you could never get all the functionality that the device promised because of your PC’s specific configuration. USB revolutionized the personal computer by allowing for a standard interface for simple devices from hard-drives to keyboard lights, and best of all by offering a device drivers the functionality promised could be delivered. If the device broke, you bought a new one, plugged it in and it worked.
In April, Jim Montague of Control Design wrote an interesting article on Machine Mount I/O entitled “Machine-Mount I/O Go Everywhere.” I think the article makes some very good points as to the value of why someone wants to move from inside an enclosure, or controls cabinet, to mounting I/O products directly on the machine.
He summarizes, with the help of a number of industry experts, the below points:
I recently had the opportunity to attend Hannover Fair in Germany and was blown away by the experience… buildings upon buildings of automation companies doing amazing things and helping us build our products faster, smarter and cheaper. One shining topic for me at the fair was the continued growth of new products being developed with IO-Link communications in them.
All in all, the growth of IO-Link products is being driven by the need of customers to know more about their facility, their process and their production. IO-Link devices are intelligent and utilize a master device to communicate their specific information over an industrial network back to the controller. To learn more about IO-Link, read my previous entry, 5 Things You Need to Know about IO-Link.
There are many terms used for I/O technology in industrial automation: Remote I/O, Distributed I/O, Modular I/O, Expandable I/O, Block I/O, Conventional I/O and the list can go on. What do they all mean? Can they be used interchangeably? What is the difference?
Lets be honest… this is a muddled topic and many people use different things interchangeably. I’ve done a bit of research and reading of automation magazines, forums and websites and have tried to piece it together.
As many machine builders, OEMs, individual plants, and large corporations decide to move from the “bus” to the “net” (Profibus or DeviceNet to Profinet or EtherNet/IP) they have a chance to look at all the new architectures available and decide on which is the best for them. Here are the first two topics to take into consideration: