A DCS, or “Distributed Control System”, is an automated control system that streamlines the functionalities of the different devices used throughout a workspace. DCS utilizes a wide range of controllers to permit all the parts to converse with one another just as PCs do. These controllers are distributed geographically across a plant to allow for high-speed communication to the control process. When utilizing various kinds of modules, the framework may require diverse correspondence norms, for example, Modbus and Profibus.
A Brief History
For the longest time, automation has always been the end-goal process when it comes to industrialization. That is that the user can quickly and efficiently complete a process repeatedly. Whether that process involves production or maintenance, the last two decades have seen a monumental rise in digitalization across numerous industries. Of course, digitalization is not a stranger to the world of automation machinery (and it would be incorrect to conflate that one is the opposite of the other). As it stands, all of the major industrial companies have some form of proprietary software that they use to automate their machinery and it’s been that way for several decades. However, in research done by Forrester, 77% of businesses today still rely on a paper process, with only 63% still using spreadsheet programs. Ultimately, this makes it more difficult to keep up with customer demands, and really wanting for a more streamlined process.
Automation and Digitalization
What is Automation?
Automation physically performs a process without the constant need of a human operator. Its tasks are dedicated by a group of rules preset by an operator usually in the form of either script commands or more robust software pending on what the task is.
What is Digitalization?
Digitalization is basically the process of taking a hard copy of something and converting it into a digital format. This could be anything from a worded manual or even a photo. Digitalizing is crucial to automation because it is how an automated process interprets data to commit to a function. The last few decades have seen a progression in the control of industrial automation from manual to digital.
One example of how digitalization can streamline automation is through the way tasks and functions are being given to a piece of industrial equipment. For the longest time, equipment like automoted robots in manufacturing have been relying on external devices like PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) to output individual commands. These are all multiple components linked together on a bus and then connected to the drive and other components. This is the current setup for a lot of industrial and manufacturing operations.
While this setup does get the job done, it does present a few issues.
For starters, communication is one of the most important things when automizing. When multiple components come into play, there is always the chance of communication issues between devices. This can be attributed to various issues, like conflicting software between the devices or even simply how something is connected. There is also the issue of troubleshooting and trying to figure out the cause of an existing issue. With digitalization, instead of having a bunch of devices trying to talk to one another, there can be just one fully-integrated device using a single software. Having instant diagnostics would also cut down on troubleshooting time.
A Little Thing Called BIM
One piece of digitalization that could potentially change the way automation works is actually a technology that is becoming more prominent in the field of architecture and engineering called BIM (Building Information Modeling). What is BIM? In short, BIM is a digitalized way to create and manage data in the design, construction, and operation of products. Often it is used by architects, engineers, and construction working on sophisticated buildings. It allows for multiple teams to collaborate in real-time as they are working on a project. The same technology could virtually model the layout of a factory and could share accurate data in real-time across multiple teams.
Imagine an entire manufacturing setup being represented by a virtual model that is constantly sharing diagnostics of the equipment. If something were to break down or get faulty, the diagnostic could alert the technician, and using the virtual model, they can get a better visual representation of what is causing the issue and where it can be found. Simultaneously an alert can be sent out across different departments so that different teams can quickly communicate and come up with solutions to the problem. This in turn saves time on labor and the cost of troubleshooting.
Automation has always been and continues to be the end goal for many companies across multiple industries. With digitalization allowing for the process to function more autonomous than ever, it seems we are moving further along into a world of unfettered interconnectivity. As the digitalization of automation continues to progress, the acknowledgment of anxiety over its effects on human employees cannot be ignored. If everything is fully automated and more streamlined, what place does the employee have?
One issue that we need to consider is how automation will affect socioeconomics. From an optimistic point of view, one could argue that the present automation has already done away with a lot of the ‘human element’, and the margins of laying off workers would be small, especially when a company could train up employees to learn the technology.
On the other hand, we’re talking about a situation where only a handful of positions are available. Often, a company would rather onboard someone who already has experience rather than train an existing employee. Automation could pessimistically mean that both low-skilled and specialized employees both have a hard time finding work. On one end when most of the general tasks can be automated why would a company need to hire humans? Not to mention that exists a ceiling with just how many specialized jobs exist versus how many specialized employees compete to fill those seats. This is an existing issue we can see across multiple tech sector positions today.
What the solution is, remains to be seen. While the advancement of automation is crucial to productivity, it is something that should be treated cautiously in regards to how it affects the working person.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a great benefit to industries across the board, but its role in the manufacturing industry has grown exponentially in the past few years. From predictive machine maintenance to improved supply chain communication, read below for some ways that AI benefits manufacturing businesses.
Supply chain communication
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to manufacturing, and AI can help streamline communication throughout the supply chain. According to LiveMint’s report on supply chain modernization, companies who work with delivery partners can leverage AI to provide timely feedback and dynamic pricing to their customers. This communication doesn’t stop with delivery companies, either. With manufacturing companies often offshoring production to different parts of the globe, time is of the essence when it comes to stocking products and making them ready for delivery. Such communication is crucial in today’s health crisis, where companies with global operations are scrambling to consolidate tasks and remain in business.Read More
What Does “PLC” Stand For?
A Programmable Logic Controller, abbreviated as “PLC” is a computer used to address the issues of a particular assembling process. These devices come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, with numerous alternatives for computerized and simple I/O, as well as protection from high temperatures, vibration, and electrical noise. The invention of the PLC allows for computers to be streamlined into the industrial automation process.
A PLC can be a solitary device figuring and executing operations, or a rack of various modules utilized to meet whatever your automation system requires. A portion of the extra parts include processors, power supplies, additional IO, interfaces, and more. Each part cooperates to have the option to run open or shut circle activities that are appraised at fast and high accuracy. Take a CNC machine for instance; a PLC would be utilized to control positioning, motion, and torque control. These devices are popular since they are inexpensive in relation to the amount of power and lifespan they possess. PLCs can run for hours on end.Read More
Established in 1972 in Newtown, Wales, this industrial part manufacturer owned by the Nidec Corporation continues to provide high quality AC Drives and motor control management products today. In this post, we will be showcasing some of the classes and parts Control Techniques has to offer.
The Unidrive line of products from Control Techniques includes devices like brushless AC servo motors. The Unidrive Classic series drives are available in five different sizes and twenty-six different models, allowing you to fit one of these devices in almost any existing automation system. This series of drives have enough built in parameters to meet most task demands.
The Unidrive Classic series offers complete I/O configurability, advanced position control, programmable logic functions, regeneration mode for four-quadrant operations, high speed communications for quick feedback, preset macros for simplified operations and more.
The Focus DC line of products are solid state analog DC drives built to last reliably in almost all environments. This family has regenerative models and different enclosure kits available to offer a wide range of custom configurations. Optional kits for these drives include ones that offer toggle switches, signal isolation, M contactor kits, dynamic braking and tachometer feedback modules.
The Commander SE line of products offer flexibility in many automated systems by being the top choice for microdrives. They are built to be rugged machines that can stay physically stable and constantly sit at correct temperatures. These devices are shipped with shipped with firmware that makes first time setup and installation as easy as possible, including the parameters that immediately meet the needs of most drive applications.
The Commander SE series offers full control of all levels of parameters, visualization of terminal connections, multiple motor speed preset settings, open loop vector control, fully configurable analog/digital Input/Output settings, sequenced switching between multiple parameters and communications via DeviceNet, PROFIBUS DP and Interbus S.
The Unidrive SP series comes in both free-standing and modular forms. The SP modular offers all the benefits of the normal Unidrive SP system along with more intense system power configurations. It is easily able to be connected together to create almost any custom setup necessary. Parallel drives are used together for higher powered motors. These drives are built to last and are flexible.
Some additional modules include SPMA AC in / DC out Drive, SPMC AC in / DC out Rectifier, SPMD DC in / AC out Inverter, SM Control MASTER, SM Control SLAVE, SPM Power Selector.
MRO Electric and Supply offers a variety of new and refurbished Control Techniques devices. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Factory Automation and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Advances
As technology evolves, automation has become more and more prevalent in the factory automation space. Machine-to-machine enables private and exclusive communication and control over sensors, cameras, industrial equipment, robotics (check out our FANUC Robotics parts) and essentially anything else. Manufactory facilities and several other remote systems are managed much more easily with machine-to-machine advances in communication.
Initially, with industrial and enterprise applications as a focal point, machine-to-machine communication was easily defined and used for a limited amount of tasks. Nowadays, there are many fewer limitations associated with the machine-to-machine communication.
Pressured to lower costs and improve speed and overall efficiency, factory automation companies are often in an uncomfortable spot. While using high-end, sophisticated automation applications and tools, more real-time data must be obtained to streamline more of the day-to-day operations and tasks. Implementing machine-to-machine solutions can help with operational efficiency gains, time and cost savings, and performance optimization.
From a cellular standpoint, machine-to-machine solutions enable integration of environmental controls into a single system, and to unify with security and video surveillance systems. All and all, companies are able to secure several properties from anywhere they wish to, even as they fine-tune power efficiency and decrease operating expenses.
Due to the immense increase of machine-operated plants in companies who rely on keeping critical assets and functions performing optimally, several companies are exploring options associated with a machine-to-machine communication. Of the many benefits, the fact that it’s able to deliver remote access to gather real-time process data to cut operation costs is often one of the most well-recognized. The ability to identify and rectify production line faults, or design and implement preventative maintenance strategies, for example, is what machine-to-machine communication is designed for.
Involving data exchange over the telephone line or via the internal with machines, plants, computers for issue detection, diagnostics, and repair, teleservice is an imperative aspect of machine-to-machine communication. Offering an optimal answer to diagnose distant systems, teleservice is becoming more and more popular and is not going anywhere.
Telecontrol, another aspect of machine-to-machine communication, deals with connections of distant process stations to one or more central control systems. Many networks, both public and private, can be used for communication used to control. For these diverse applications and businesses, cellular M2M connectivity can address many business and technical challenges and enable important benefits.
Additionally, M2M systems can be designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions and easily manage and control connected devices across the country or around the world. M2M systems provide flexibility to move equipment as needed, or bring up and tear down systems quickly for temporary or seasonal deployments. By using modern M2M management and application platforms, and taking care to choose platforms designed to meet real-world requirements, organizations can take full advantage of the M2M revolution.
In case you were wondering, machine-to-machine systems are indeed designed to withstand environmental conditions and easily control connected devices in any location. They are flexible and can move equipment with ease. In order to use machine-to-machine communication optimally, look into management and application platforms. Click here to view our article on IT and Robotics.
Boosting Factory Automation Productivity
In the factory automation space, productivity is much more than an imperative management concept; it is a scalable tool that drives employees and processes to be functioning at their best. In order to keep employees on track and enable goals to be met in the workplace, fine-tuning processes and running a ‘tight ship’ as far as time management is concerned is considered best practice.
As far as work is concerned, understanding where to start is the first, and often, most difficult step. Understand what may set your company back, whether it be a worn down motor (such as a FANUC CNC Motor) not performing up-to-par, or a poorly-maintained Servo Amp (such as a FANUC CNC Servo Amp). Missing expectations due to a faulty machine is avoidable, as seen in this article focusing on Maintaining Automation Machine Tools.
To ensure your teams’ insights aren’t hindered, consider documenting priority-oriented processes such as customer service, client retention, and cutting operation costs, that way, more focus can be put toward improving workflow, coaching employees and pinpointing other areas that could be improved on. Take industry benchmarks into consideration; they can be used as a point of reference to determine if an area can be improved in, or if it’s already up-to-par. Along with documenting the aforementioned processes, keeping track of progress and growth can also aid in fine-tuning.
In order to remain on the same page with employees, ask for their buy-in and try to understand where they’re coming from. They may help shed light on problematic areas such as why certain departments aren’t working as closely together as they could be, or if downtime could be minimized by having two departments working together more effectively. By making employees feel valued and trusted, a company is less likely to run into honesty issues, communication issues and/or issues with collaboration. The foundation for productive operations starts with an honest, well-communicating team. Teams need to have an in-depth understanding of where they’re expected to add value and, of course, what the company is working toward as a whole. Eliminating clutter in order to have a well-focused and productive team is an achievement that most of those in the factory machine automation space don’t lose sight of. MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC CNC parts available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email email@example.com.
These days, there are shortcuts and tools for essentially any and every niche. Many of those in the machine and factory automation space are focusing on robotics (see FANUC Robotics parts) to explore ways to automate processes in hope of enhancing productivity. Be sure to stay ‘in the loop’ when it comes to tools that could enhance one’s productivity through collaboration, etc.
Siemens’ Update Broadens Toolset for Digitization in Machine Shop Environments
The most recent update from Siemens’ NX software coalesces the next generation of tools concerning additive manufacturing, CNC (computer numeric control) machining, robotics, and, last but not least, quality inspection to enable the digitalization of part manufacturing within a single, cohesive end-to-end system.
Up-to-date automation competence for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), including robotic programming, adaptive milling, and tooling design, provide innovative, industry-specific technology to help deliver high-quality products to the market in less time. The new NX Machining Line Planner tool, combined with integrated NX CAM software for feature-based machining, provides new capabilities for industries with high-volume production of complicated parts, such as automotive and industrial machinery. The latest version of NX continues to support end-to-end solutions for additive manufacturing, helping manufacturers realize the goal of using 3D printing for industrial production.
Part manufacturers proceed to face increased pressures from modified market expectations, with customers who require optimized accuracy and faster response times. In order to remain competitive, many part manufacturers look to digitalization, which connects all of the steps of part manufacturing planning and production with a single source of information, or a digital thread. Implementing a digital strategy can enable part manufacturers of all sizes to take greater advantage of automation, adopt 3D printing for production, and ultimately expand into new market opportunities and reduce time to delivery.
State-of-the-art automation enhancements within the latest version of NX provide powerful ways to expand production efficiency and decrease cost. Robotic programming technology provides the ability to automate complete manufacturing cells, including programming robots to perform machining. Adaptive milling and tube milling are new capabilities that provide innovative ways to automate CNC machines and accelerate cutting of complex parts. Adaptive milling is a high-speed cutting method that leverages automation within NX to decrease machining cycles by up to 60 percent while extending tool life. Tube milling streamlines the 5-axis programming process by eliminating preparation and minimizing inputs, utilizing advanced capabilities to create ideal tool paths and minimize errors in machining on the shop floor.
Mold and die manufacturers can now accordingly dictate tool production costs through integration between NX and the Teamcenter portfolio. Engineers can now use NX to automatically recognize features and parameters on the desired part, and provide pertinent information to Teamcenter, which can precisely calculate the tool cost. The newly integrated capabilities of Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software solutions can enable tool manufacturers to win more orders and increase profit margins through automated costing and accurate quotations.
New to this version, NX Machining Line Planner, combined with integrated NX CAM, enables the feature recognition, distribution, balancing, programming and simulation of operations over multiple setups and machines. Particularly helpful for industries with high-volume production of complicated parts with many features, NX Machining Line Planner uses a digital twin of the complete machining line and NX CAM feature-based machining technology to optimize the entire process. NX Machining Line Planner, combined with the power of the digital twin, offers a truly unique solution that enables automotive and machinery manufacturers to reduce planning time and increase overall production results.
The newest version also inflates the new additive manufacturing solution in NX by including the new module, NX AM for HP Multi Jet Fusion, which is certified by HP and powered by Materialise, to prepare print jobs for HP Jet Fusion 4200 3D printers. The NX software module will allow customers to develop and manage parts in a single software environment for Multi Jet Fusion printing solutions, avoid costly and time-consuming data conversions and third-party tools, and improve their overall design-to-finished-part workflow efficiency.
Additionally, Siemens develops applications for additive manufacturing process simulation in Simcenter 3D, a crucial tool to help manufacturers industrialize additive manufacturing by printing components the first-time-right. These simulation applications are an integral part of the Siemens’ additive manufacturing solution. Increasing productivity is one goal for most of those in the automation space (check out boosting factory automation productivity here). MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished Siemens products available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information Technology involves storing, retrieving, altering and transmitting massive amounts of data.
Because IT is heavily reliant on computers, automating the field is definitely the most practical direction.
Slowly taking rein in the sector, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is terminating the manual effort associated with IT tasks and business processes.
RPA grips technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning and vision, big data analytics and, eventually, quantum mechanics, to complete several tasks.
There are two types of automated deployments:
- Simplified robots (such as FANUC Robotics products found here) that execute a script to recurrently execute a specific function.
- Cognitive RPA/software-based AI that learns the tasks they are presented with and learn how to make choices on their own.
Currently, large global IT and BPO (business process outsourcing) organizations are using lesser forms of RPA.
Using RPA enables organizations to provide IT services at higher efficiencies and minimize costs.
Utilizing RPA enables organizations to provide IT services at increased efficiencies while cutting costs.
Many say that a handful of companies are currently in the early stages of conducting RPA proof-of-concept trials, while some are entertaining production pilots.
Many IT service lines are expected to come under RPA’s influence.
- Helpdesk is a field that falls under this category. RPAs could potentially automate non-ticketing activities that, as per IT reports, occupy 25% to 40% of a helpdesk’s tasks. Some of these tasks include monitoring, providing clarifications and reporting. As for ticketing, RPA could assist in automation common service requests such as password resets.
- IT infrastructure outsourcing is another area that is expected to be impacted by RPA. In this, robots (such as FANUC motors, amplifiers, and drives) could observe critical thresholds and, under certain threshold breach conditions, could even fix the issue.
Companies have already started to leverage RPA for many of their client projects.
Processes that mandate RPA include rule-based, high volume, several systems, repetitive tasks, data mining, or data entry tasks. MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC Robotics products available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email email@example.com.
- RPA slashes labor costs immensely.
- The technology offers a less prying way for integrating systems because software AI access applications through the user interface.
- Robots would connect to various UIs, including legacy green-screen applications, and would not touch the underlying software.
- RPA projects require less time and money when compared to traditional automation.
- AI robots will provide better quality, faster processing times (within hours compared to weeks with manual approach), major improvement in traceability for audit purposes, and increased high-speed analytics.
- RPA would easily scale and address fluctuations in volume.
Automation projects, as per industry experts, should not take more than a year to complete. They would likely cost between half a million USDs to two million or more, depending on the number of robots and their complexities. Check out our article on factory automation and machine-to-machine learning here.