Whether you have a corporate initiative to connect all your equipment, or if you are looking for ways empower front line workers to make better decisions – connecting your equipment can play a vital role. Many executives when asked what data would they like to get from the equipment, respond with “ALL the data!”. Of course, this isn’t always practical so we try and help using these 3 topics:
Determine just exactly what you need to achieve your goal. There are 5 categories of information you can expect able to get from your equipment to help you achieve your goals. I have ranked them by typical cost to achieve, lowest first.
A. Status - On, Off, Producing
B. Performance - Amount and speed of products made.
C. Quality - Cycle time, good or bad first pass, in process temperatures, pressures, etc.
D. Traceability - Which things came in and went out .
E. Asset health - Machine component performance over time.
These connection classes speak more to capability of a machine control to natively provide information via an Ethernet network like the ones we all use everyday. These classes really give no indications of which of the 5 information types are available from a machine.
Legacy - To me, this is any equipment that has has no way to natively connect to any network and will not be able give over its information without retrofitting the control or adding an appliance.1
Modern (with options) - This is how I refer to any control that's ready to give over the goods, but requires a hardware or software modification to connect it to a network and get the data flowing. You will need to go to your control vendor and often, your equipment OEM too for capability and pricing.
Modern (Ready for Connection) - This is easy. Plug in the Ethernet cable to a capable and secure network, configure the machine IP address, and (depending on the software you picked) start collecting data.
1Appliance - specialized hardware that can be connected to sensors on your machine, to translate sensor data to your network.
Choosing software is easier once you state your short and long term goals for what you will do with the information from your equipment. I group software too, just so it is easy to understand where they fit into your strategy.
Point Solution - Software with specific purpose and functionality.
Enabling Technology - This software's purpose is to unlock information from multiple sources (including your connected equipment), and make it available to other systems.
Enterprise Class - This software is designed to interface to multiple systems, and share information across departments, sites, and your entire enterprise.
This should remove some of the mystery around connectivity, and with this basic knowledge you have what you need to get started building your own connection strategy. I hope you find this useful. If you need more help, schedule a call with me.
Manufacturing equipment and software is necessary and expensive. It can also be very complicated to use and support. But these systems can help you be more flexible, efficient and profitable. TZ Indy simplifies these tools to help companies get everything they need from their systems, so they can worry less, and spend more time focusing on their customers.
Whether you need a PLC retrofit, and OEE tool or an enterprise manufacturing execution system, its important to have a system that is easy to use and support. A system that makes it easy for front-line workers use to make good decisions and have an impact your business.?