Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing Businesses

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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.

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What is a DCS?

DCS stands for “Distributed Control System” which is an automated control system that streamlines the functionalities of the different devices used throughout a work space. 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.

What is a Distributed Control System
Distributed Control System Layout
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What is a PLC?

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. 

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Control Techniques Manufacturer Showcase

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.

Unidrive
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.

UNI2403 by Control Techniques

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.

Focus DC
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.

Commander SE
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.

Commander SE products by Control Techniques

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.

Unidrive SP
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 sales@mroelectric.com.

Factory Automation and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Advances

fanuc robotics

 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.

MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC parts available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

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

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 sales@mroelectric.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.

Workforce Automation and Robots

FANUC Robotics

Workforce Automation and Robots

Automation has been in mind for not just decades, but centuries. Whether we’re talking about those who worked in flour mills or those who dealt with windmills, automated processes have always been on inventors’ minds. While automation would technically result in job losses, the increased prevalence of robots and robotics parts (FANUC Robotic Parts found at MRO Electric)  in the manufacturing, packaging, and engineering space would result in interesting implications for consumers, employees, companies, organizations, etc.

Does Workforce Automation Result in Job Losses?

Many are convinced that automation will come and take over a majority of the work done by humans in the next few decades, and some feel as though their jobs are safe. Let us take China for example. China is one of the most dominant manufacturing hubs in the world, supplying a huge chunk of the world’s electronics products. Over the past few years, Chinas’ factories cut human workforce by an astounding average of 50%, due to the increased prevalence of robots.

Are there Advantages of Workforce Automation?

Although there is definitely a negative side of workforce automation, do positive sides exist? Customers could experience, to an extent, cheaper and more effective services and products. This would be due to the cost savings of the autonomous robotics, which yield a one-time fee along with other basic upkeep costs. Lower production costs would also make it possible to build items in the U.S. vs overseas, which many would prefer.

 Automation Limits?

There are limits to mostly everything, and automation is no exception. Short product life cycles that quickly become obsolete and ability to entertain fully-custom projects do not fit into an automation system. For example, paying for a large number of robots to build an electronic product that will become obsolete in less than a year would not be a smart decision from a business standpoint. The ability to be flexible and custom is imperative when concerning several products in several different markets.

What does Second Machine Age Mean?

Robotics in machine automation is becoming a larger part of the workforce as time goes on. Some companies plan to simply increase production levels with the help of robots and robotics parts while keeping their employee count the same and reassigning their workers to other positions within the company. With the addition of robots and robotic parts in the workplace, workers will be needed to maintain robots, calibrate and monitor them, analyze data and more.

The rise of robots and robotic parts is unavoidable in several niches. Today’s technological prosperity is changing tomorrow’s workforce for good. MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC Robotics parts available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

Lastly, be sure to check out our articles on boosting factory automation productivity here.

Siemens’ Update Broadens Toolset for Digitization in Machine Shop Environments

Siemens CNC

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 sales@mroelectric.com.

IT and Robotics

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:

  1. Simplified robots (such as FANUC Robotics products found here) that execute a script to recurrently execute a specific function.
  2. 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.

Affected Areas

Many IT service lines are expected to come under RPA’s influence.

  1. 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.
  1. 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 sales@mroelectric.com.

Automation Advantages

  1. RPA slashes labor costs immensely.
  2. The technology offers a less prying way for integrating systems because software AI access applications through the user interface.
  3. Robots would connect to various UIs, including legacy green-screen applications, and would not touch the underlying software.
  4. RPA projects require less time and money when compared to traditional automation.
  5. 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.
  6. RPA would easily scale and address fluctuations in volume.

Feasibility

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.

Control Market & Industrial Automation Trends

Control Market & Industrial Automation Trends

Industrial Automation

Vendors Will Need to Advocate Portable Applications

The lack of multivendor portability of applications is an enormous issue for those in the automation industry. The operators behind the automation architecture initiatives understand that without open ecosystems, providing portable applications between vendor platforms, revolution is stifled.  Nontraditional suppliers are already offering products that are programmed with IoT software.

Edge Devices Will Blossom

The rapid rise of the Internet of Things concepts and technologies, including high power/low-cost processing and communications technologies, is enabling new intelligent nodes, which operate at the network edge to improve manufacturing performance and efficiency. This will be a growing trend.

The quick rise of the Internet of Things ideas and technologies is empowering state-of-the-art knowledgable nodes, which operate at the network edge to polish manufacturing performance and efficiency.

Omnipresent Smart Sensors

Smart sensors and control devices have been proven to produce aid by yielding increasing amounts of contextual data. Because of the most recent IO-Link addition gaining quick adoption, the cost of implementing smart sensors has decreased immensely. Along with these are Ethernet sensors. Ethernet sensors communicate using industrial and related formalities, which contribute data for automation and communicate directly with business systems. Industrial applications have also begun to use Bluetooth sensors.

Collaborative Robots Will Become More Affordable

As many of us know, the number of collaborative robots dramatically increased in 2016. These newly-established light and inexpensive robots are engineered to operate cooperatively with people. They are also intended to incorporate vision systems along with state-of-the-art software to provide self-awareness. These robots have average costs of under $40,000.00, making them suitable for an enlarged number of tasks. These robots are evolving similarly to how personal computers have- providing a product with less power than larger offerings, but adds value for a larger number of users.

Internet of Things (IoT) Technology Will Slash Automation Costs

Talk of the Internet of Things (IoT) theories, and the technology influencing the industry is starting to feel very real. The progressing maturation of technology and merchandise is stimulating the Internet of Things with fastened innovations including higher-powered processors, analytic software, sensors, cloud computing, visionary systems, and more. All and all, this will likely result in more economical and higher performing industrial automation systems.

Thinner Architecture Will Come to Automation

As many professionals in the industrial automation space know, 2-3 layer automation systems are beginning to occur, resulting in increased performance and less software maintenance prices. This trend is becoming more and more common, with computing being driven down into more handy controllers, intuitive instruments, and driven up to plant level computers and cloud-hosted applications.

MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished products available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.