Networked, efficient, flexible
What role does measurement technology play for Industrial Internet of Things?
Industrial Internet of Things: The term is becoming an emblem of innovation at trade fairs. Experiments are underway in numerous learning factories and pilot projects to show what Industrial Internet of Things can be and what it can achieve. Industrial Internet of Things today is first and foremost a vision: A vision of the networked company, of machines communicating with each other and of optimized supply chains. The divide between this vision and reality in real production shops is often enormous. With measurement technology from HBM, the vision can come closer to reality.
Small and medium-sized companies especially, but not exclusively, often have machines that have seen many years of service and do not offer modern interfaces or plug-and-play solutions. But these are the very companies that can especially profit from networking machines and people. That's because Industrial Internet of Things means more efficiency, flexibility and speed – to a great extent without any need for human interaction.
Instead humans make decisions and monitor processes. Intelligent systems report without being prompted if something has gone wrong. Humans intervene as problem solvers. That leads to improved throughput times, fewer rejects and less down time. Many processes can be optimized little by little on the way to the vision.
But Industrial Internet of Things means still more: It is not just optimizing machine processes but also networking on a horizontal level.
But what will the path to this networked production look like? Can machines from 1998 actually be adapted to make networking possible? And how much will it cost? Many companies are asking these questions. Some large companies are making great strides, while smaller companies move forward bit by bit. This much is clear: The path from industry today to Industrial Internet of Things is long, and the path will seem different for every company. The preliminary stages of Industrial Internet of Things are the first goal, and that goal is achievable.
Important steps have already been taken to involve small and medium-sized companies: Politics and science have discovered the topic for themselves, while ideas and solutions are being developed at trade fairs, conventions and conferences. Companies also benefit from the experience of learning factories, which are operated throughout Germany for research purposes. Bit by bit companies are cautiously moving towards networked processes. It is already apparent in the first phase that there is no need to reinvent production lines: Existing systems can also be upgraded with suitable sensors to take over communications tasks.
Modern measurement technology enables this step in the direction of Industrial Internet of Things.
With the PMX industrial amplifier HBM offers an intelligent data acquisition system that is able to monitor and control the entire measurement chain. Quality management and maintenance can be sustainably improved with PMX. Employee information can be forwarded selectively using web-based data preparation. The system also "learns." The goal is self-optimization based on assigned key figures. All of this leads to gains in efficiency while quality, speed and adaptability are optimized.
Processes can also be made fit for Industrial Internet of Things with HBM weighing technology. In dynamic weighing, for example, communication and software are becoming more and more important. The PanelX software is used for example to configure FIT7A digital load cells. It has an intuitive user interface with touch control to adjust all parameters for the measurement. PanelX can also be used to adjust load cells, select the bus address and baud rate, enter the limit values with hysteresis and for graphical analysis and realization of measurement results. Web help provides support if needed.
The electronic transducer identification co-developed by HBM with TEDS (Transducer Electronic Data Sheet) not only makes setting up measurement chains fast and easy ("Plug and Measure"), but also guarantees reliable measured values for any measurement – even with a large number of transducers. Important characteristics are stored internally in the form of an electronic data sheet in every transducer. The measuring amplifier is able to load this data and convert it to the correct settings automatically without any human interaction: an important building block for networked manufacturing.
The Technical University of Darmstadt described the initial situation as of 2015 in a study "Industrial Internet of Things – potentials, benefits and good practice examples for industry in Hesse," which was prepared as part of the "Efficient Factory 4.0" research project. According to the study (in German):
To change this TU Darmstadt opened the 4.0 Competence Center for medium-sized companies in March 2016 based on the "Efficient Factory 4.0" research project. Companies can learn more about Industrial Internet of Things there and work towards the possibilities of digitization, a preliminary stage of Industrial Internet of Things, based on real processes in seminars and learning factories at the university. The Darmstädt Competence Center is one of an initial five in all of Germany sponsored by the Federal Ministry for the Economy.