Growing up in the 80’s, I was fascinated by the evolving computer presence and narratives found in the movies. From Terminator to No Way Out, I watched these films and they sucked me into the world of new age of computers and how they could be applied. War Games was an especially memorable movie for me. It is premised on an artificial intelligent computer system called W.O.P.R. that was able to self-learn so that it could respond automatically to detected threats to achieve the optimal outcome. It learned by continually running war game scenarios with itself to predict outcomes like the modern day AlphaGo Zero.

Just as W.O.P.R. learned through scenarios, so can humans. So, for this blog, I thought I would provide some real-world scenarios of where industrial IIOT solutions could be applied to manufacturing systems. I hope it sparks creative ideas for applying this modern technology stack to your business.

Silo and Inventory Monitoring:

Problem – Outdoor storage silos were installed with only local displays for level monitoring. The only way the operations team could see the level in the silos, was to physically walk outside and take readings. If operations teams could reallocate the time associated with recording manual readings and then reentering those values in other systems, then these resources could be reallocated to perform higher value tasks.

Solution – Having access to a 4-20ma signal coming from the level transmitter, we can piggyback onto that signal and re-transmit the silo level value using our line of Advantech Industrial IoT modules via WIFI or LTE-M. This device can be read by our InSource X0 Edge Gateway which then moves that data securely to the AVEVA Cloud Historian. Now operations and any other privileged user can see the levels in the silos along with trends of consumption and replenishment on any mobile device or computer. In addition, reallocating resources to activities that contribute more directly to increased production is a quick way to see ROI.

Simple Current Monitoring:

Problem – Lack of energy consumption visibility. A company desires to track end-point usage of energy without large investments in infrastructure and downtime. The adage, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure” holds true for energy savings projects. To reduce energy consumption, the first step is to determine which units are causing waste. Also, simply by measuring energy consumption, companies often see immediate value from behavior changes as a result of the Hawthorn Effect.

Solution – Deploy self-powered split-core Current Transformers (CT) at the point of usage for each phase of a motor or other powered system. These CTs can be installed in minutes and wired to our line of multi-year life battery powered Advantech Industrial IoT smart mesh nodes. These battery powered devices create their own wireless network and communicate their data back to a central gateway device. Our InSource X0 Edge Gateway, then can push this data to the AVEVA Cloud Historian for historical trending and analysis. By monitoring the current consumption of each piece of electrical equipment, one can reduce consumption as well as use this data to support and justify additional energy savings projects.

Quick Downtime Monitoring:

Problem – Our production equipment is not network connected and most have PLCs that are not readily accessible for data collection efforts. The desire still exists to understand downtime and count production, then use this information to reduce downtime, thus increasing efficiency and capacity. Further, an easy to set up collection system will help justify more significant utilization improvement projects. By executing more extensive utilization projects, companies can achieve dramatic ROIs.

Solution – A simple proximity sensor can be wired to one of our Advantech Industrial IoT transmitters. The WISE modules have a built in high speed counter to detect fast moving parts. This device can accumulate production counts and then re-transmit this data wirelessly or with a hard connection to our InSource X0 Edge Gateway. Our InSource X0 Edge Gateway can then be used to move the data securely into the AVEVA Cloud Performance solution. By counting parts, we can determine production counts and the running state of the monitored equipment, up or down. In addition, operators can enter the downtime reason codes manually from a tablet or PC. The result is a clear picture of untapped production value.

Stack light Monitoring:

Problem – Again all or most of our production equipment are not network connected but each machine and line have a unique stack light with 3 light indicators 1) Green = Running, 2) Red = Down, 3) Yellow = Idle. The desire exists to capture downtime information over time, then use this information to improve utilization. By executing utilization projects, companies can see ROI through greater production efficiency and capacity.

Solution – Advantech is currently working on an Industrial IoT solution and we happen to have 1 of 2 working prototypes in house. With the Stack light IoT strip monitor, we can place a 5-year life battery powered photo sensor strip that can detect which light is on and then transmit that information to our X0 Edge Gateway. Our InSource X0 Edge Gateway can then translate the light indication to up and down or idle states which then get sent to the AVEVA Cloud Performance solution. Here is an example of a completely non-intrusive way of capturing machine utilization. This is coming in February 2019.

Just as the computers of the 80’s inspired me and my imagination, modern day software and technology are still tickling my neurons and energizing my desire for creativity and imagination. I am certainly looking forward to the upcoming new year and its endless possibilities.

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