IoT Heralds New Trends in Factory Automation for Improved Output

By : |December 4, 2018 0

By Sunil Mehta, General Manager – Automotive Business Development Department & Milind Gokhale, Senior Manager, e-F@ctory Promotions, Factory Automation &Industrial Division, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt. Ltd.

In the recent past, factory automation has been witnessing several changes, thanks to technological advancement that has led to a seminal improvement in the operations. There has been more efficiency in the factory processes along with higher reliability and a conspicuous improvement in the quality of the output as well. With the coming in of intelligent sensors and universal connectivity, the necessity for operator intervention in manual settings or in open control loops is becoming increasingly lesser while closed-loop controls too is changing.

The framework that drives these changes is the Internet of Things concept(IoT) that is creating a flood of new technology. IoT is the connection of uniquely identifiable electronic devices using the Internet “data plumbing,” including Internet Protocol (IP), Web services, and cloud computing. With the onset of IoT, factory automation has been witnessing a sea of change, thanks to the several new trends that IoT is heralding in.

Sunil Mehta General Manager Automotive Business Development Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt

Sunil Mehta General Manager Automotive Business Development Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt

In factory automation, IoT uses technology to streamline, collapse, and create system architectures that are more affordable, responsive, and effective. The goal is frictionless communications and interaction from manufacturing field input/output (I/O), including sensors, actuators, analyzers, drives, vision, video, and robotics, for better manufacturing performance and flexibility. Wireless IP devices, including smartphones, tablets, and sensors, are already being used in manufacturing.

The IP-enabled factory automation architecture is now distributing more functions into new breeds of powerful industrial controllers and sensors/actuators with embedded processors, eliminating the need for middle-level software that is cumbersome, expensive, and difficult to maintain. Along with intelligent sensors and machines, IoT encompasses cloud computing, analytics, Big Data, mobility and universal visualization. Improved business performance, production efficiency and asset optimization remain the core objectives for manufacturers to implement this technology.

The benefit of having IoT on the factory floor is the ability to constantly monitor production data. While the machines in an automated factory are becoming as efficient as they can be, by collecting production data, room for improvement can be found in the system as a whole, rather than at each individual machine or station. A further benefit is the ability to monitor and troubleshoot the manufacturing process remotely at any time because of the constant connection to the Internet.

Ethernet and wireless networks will form the basis of the IoT architecture, and fortunately, many specifiers are already familiar with their use in production equipment. In general, plant floor sensors, devices, machines and systems will be required to transmit their data to the cloud computing platform for analysis and then be capable of accepting real-time feedback from the analytical engines for performance improvement.

Companies too are fast adapting to the power of technology. Leading factory automation (FA) solution providers have proposed innovative and state-of-the-art concepts that integrate technology and innovation to bring changes for the better. These automation solutions have been developed with the aim of reducing production costs across the board, from development and manufacturing to maintenance, utilising highly advanced information technologies to optimize factories and support production systems of the future. Today’s integrated factory automation solutions for manufacturing firms are one step ahead of the industry, enabling the overall total cost of development, production, and maintenance to be reduced through the utilization of FA and information-processing technologies that continuously support customer relations.

Benefits of FA

Milind Gokhale Senior Manager e-F@ctory Promotions Factory Automation &Industrial Division Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt

Milind Gokhale Senior Manager e-F@ctory Promotions Factory Automation &Industrial Division Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt

Advanced FA and IT data communication technologies are aimed to get benefits from the full potential of a plant. A flexible FA system helps in increasing the operating rate, decreasing the lead-time, reducing the cost, and enhancing the quality –issues that manufacturing industry constantly face. FA-IT information interface produces innovative solutions that embody the digital system. They connect production equipment directly to a Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and further on to a higher IT system.

Modern FA systems offer vertical integration with its MES Interfaces, but also offers horizontal hardware integration of all its automation products on the shop floor. This is achieved and designed around the iQ Platform, which is a consolidated automation platform bringing all aspects of automation onto one main programmable automation controller. The design highlights the integration of controllers, CNCs, Robots, HMIs, engineering environment, and networking, hence resulting in reduced TCO.

The implementation of a complete IoT concept for a factory is costly and work-intensive but the benefits are substantial.  The bottom-line goals of improving productivity, product quality and return on investment are recognized.

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