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Applications and How-Tos

IIoT for analytics – how IoT can be used to improve performance

Jonathan Bullick | March 13th, 2017

Centralized control of applications that rely on automation is a huge benefit of the Industrial Internet of Things, and is typically the first thing you’ll hear about when getting a pitch for an integrated system. In this post I’d like to go over another benefit that many installations can take advantage of in order to see increased productivity and lower operating costs, and that is using IIoT for analytics. The data needed for maintenance and optimization has been available for years. With the growth of the internet and networked systems this data is now easier to access and store. But now that we have all of this at our fingertips without ever having to set foot on the factory floor, what do we do with it?

Predictive maintenance and self-optimizing production have been cited as two of the top issues driving increased IIoT adoption in regards to analytics. Both of these issues can be addressed by using data gathered during operation – the key is in finding the right types of data and applying fixes or changes appropriately.

IIoT and maintenance

IIoT for analytics - COMBIVIS Studio
COMBIVIS Studio HMI software from KEB can be used devices in an IIoT setting.

Failure of a single machine or line of machines can range from mildly annoying to catastrophic for business. You might think that a constant need for reactive maintenance might be a sign of IIoT failure, or that it has no place in the centralized control and monitoring. However, keeping track of these types of problems are key to identifying patterns in line faults.

When a critical failure occurs there is a real need for diagnosis so it can be prevented in the future. Programmed machine components, such as drives or PLCs, can log critical data and send it to HMIs using software like KEB’s COMBIVIS Studio HMI. Detailed logs provided by the components will let operators know the state of the machine components just before failure – even if the equipment was damaged. If significant delays are suspected of leading to a lack of happy customers, logs can show the amount of downtime in relation to failures and machine states and pinpoint the component that needs to be addressed.

Another way IIoT can be used as part of reactive maintenance is setting up alert systems so when failure or downtime occurs it can be dealt with swiftly. KEB’s C6 Router has the ability to send SMS or email notifications when events are triggered that may require the operator’s attention.

In the past, evaluating each component of a line after a fault could be time consuming and sometimes dangerous. Now that the data is gathered and stored in a central system, it can be analyzed without having to put on a hard hat and safety glasses, and predictive maintenance can be implemented. Look for patterns in machine states and set alerts to notify operators when thresholds are crossed that signify a possible failure. Logs can be kept for “hours on” so an accurate time-table for maintenance and replacement can be kept. Accurate tracking of machine operation can also help pinpoint aberrations in performance both sudden and chronic.

IIoT and Analytics - C6 Router
Optimizing performance

Throughput and accuracy in production makes customers happy and keeps costs low. By logging key performance indicators you can make changes as needed to optimize production. These indicators are typically things that would not cause a large failure, but lead to a pattern of lost time and errors in production.

You may have a standard time estimate for production of a product that has a built-in assumption of 80 minutes of production downtime per week. In reviewing logs of average downtime duration, you discover that downtime is closer to 120 minutes per week. You can use this info to adjust your lead time estimates and provide better estimates to your customers. Measuring throughput at key sections of production can identify bottlenecks, and power consumption during peak performance periods can help analyze spending requirements.

KEB and IIoT for analytics

KEB has several products in our automation line that collect this useful data, and many others that have the ability to create data for collection and analysis. With top-of-the-line industrial design, 40+ communication drivers, and an integrated EtherCAT master and runtime environment the C6 HMI LC is a fantastic tool for solution for automation. With COMBIVIS Studio HMI and COMBIVIS Connect you can take advantage of KEB’s worldwide, secure network to set up commissioning and monitoring of your system.

IIoT for analytics - COMBIVIS connect
The C6 VPN Router is another product we feel can greatly benefit customers looking to use the internet of things (*note, this only applies to router models with integrated HMI features). It has a rugged industrial design with no fans or moving parts. Cable-free integration can be accomplished with a SIM card on any 2G/3G/3G+ network, and a 4G version is also available. These features are perfect for remote installations that are typically not easy or safe to get to. Once the router is installed and paired with COMBIVIS HMI software maintenance and analysis can be done from the office, which means you spend less time at the airport.

KEB drives, like the F5 Inverter, can be linked with the HMI LC or Router and be used to gather the kind of data you would need to apply predictive maintenance and line optimization. Current, voltage, speed, and other measurements can be created during operation and sent to a device capable of logging. KEB has control product specialists right here in Minnesota, so if you have any questions about how you can set up your system to log important operating metrics and key performance indicators feel free to contact us and we’ll help you out.

An intricate or robust IIoT network is not a perfect solution for every application. Smaller lines where the machines have ample space to operate and users have lots of room to maneuver would make maintenance on a single machine from the factory floor quite easy. If the installation is in a climate-controlled facility and just a short walk down the hall rather than a 3-hour flight, the extra networking might be unnecessary. But there are many instances where centralized control can make gathering important info easier. Extreme temperatures, remote locations, tight spaces – consider the amount of effort required to work with these conditions and you may find that you’ll get great ROI on an industrial IIoT setup from KEB America.

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