Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) projects are redefining and shaping how modern factories and plants operate. By providing analytics on everything from predictive maintenance to industrial automation, IIoT projects can help improve efficiency and allow companies to make better, more knowledgeable business decisions. However, most modern plants are all facing the issue of scaling. Most factories and plants have implemented IIoT pilot programs, but have failed to progress to a full-scale overhaul where IIoT is ubiquitous in the work environment. Below, we’ll expound on the complexities that come with scaling and offer suggestions on how to mitigate those issues, thus opening up a world of new possibilities for your company.
It is estimated that by the year 2020, the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) will exceed 20 billion! These are whopping numbers, and undoubtedly display strength on the part of developing technologies. But at the same time, it is becoming clearer that wireless mobile internet networks would have to be improved to ensure seamless performance of connected devices.
When old-school engineers are preached about the upcoming wave of Industry 4.0 technologies and how they will revolutionize plant operations with remote connectivity, they often respond with little excitement, and with good reason. Embedded system is a well-established technology within the industry that has offered remote connectivity for decades now, be it HVAC systems, assembly lines or chemical tanks. So, if everything was available from the start, why the IoT buzz then?
Whenever the word “supply chain” is uttered, most professionals usually think of logistics, because the concept has been embedded in their thought processes for the past four decades. When optimization of supply chain is explored, the goal is to optimize the flow of materials from the raw material state to the distribution center where finished goods are auctioned.
The wide-scale adoption of the Internet of Things and automation technologies is inevitable. For the past decade, many industrial companies are seriously considering IoT and automated processes. This means every single physical parameter is up for grabs and should be utilized to increase the competitive edge for a business.
IIoT is no longer a concept limited to research papers, conferences and keynote speeches; it is here. The deployment of the Internet of Things within manufacturing and other sectors has been building over the years and has now adopted an exponential pattern. Big Data Paradigm, M2M communication, and advanced sensory technologies are just some of the hotspots of Industrial IoT. The benefits are visible and include operational efficiency, greater on-site safety, and higher productivity.
Detection of objects or fluids is one of the core tasks that are performed in any industry, upon which the productivity is dependent. Proximity sensors are employed for such tasks which detect the presence/absence of an object through electromagnetic fields, light and sound.
Data is sensed, processed & acted-upon within an industry through a wide range of sensors & actuators, which by now have become intelligent enough to perform a number of sophisticated activities with little intervention. But despite of the great many innovations in interface technologies, an economical & reliable solution has still been missing that would conclusively address uninterrupted communication down to the lowest field level.
Leuze Electronic IO-Link.
IO-Link is a serial, digital communication protocol that would be used within automation technologies to connect sensors/actuators within an automation system. With the IO-Link, the “last mile” problem of communications with sensors & actuators would be neutralized through digitization. While previously only binary switching states and analog signals were transferred, IO-Link would even allow status information to be read by the sensor or actuator.
IO-Link has traversed from the concept of being a bus system and transformed into a point-to-point connection between the IO-Link device and the connection unit.
Leuze Electronic offers several IO-Link products in order to support seamless operation within your automation infrastructure.
Contrast sensors can be used to detect a variety of light sources, from white to laser generated red to RGB. Leuze Electronic contrast sensors provide highly accurate detection & comparison between changing contrasts and deliver the results with minimal signal jitter.
- KRT 3B Series - The series features contrast sensors that can distinguish between grayscale values enabling them to detect minimal contrast deviations. This makes them ideal for sensing presence of texts or imprints.
- KRT 18B Series - Several industrial applications require detection of contrast marks on film bags and blister packaging. The 18B contrast sensor combines ease of use via permanent signal indicators with high performance. If required, the sensor also provides analog output for heavily demanding detection applications.
Retro-reflective Photoelectric Sensors
Retroreflective sensors are based on the simple principle of obstruction between a light beam, which sparks a response from an actuator. Such photoelectric sensors are commonly used in safety-related applications. Leuze Electronic offers photoelectric sensors based on its IO-link technology to provide uninterrupted, blazing-fast communications to your system. The various sensors offered by Leuze include:
- 46B diffuse sensors
- HT 10 diffuse sensors
- 3C retro-reflective sensor
- 46C retro-reflective sensor
Optical Distance Sensors
Optical Distance Sensors make use of pulsed light beams to detect changes in distance from a target surface. These sensors either use laser or LED lights as a medium, precisely measuring the distance over a wide variety of materials. Leuze Electronic offers the following Optical Distance Sensors under its IO-Link banner:
- ODSL 8 - Housed in compact-metal enclosure, the sensor can be commissioned quickly and provides reliable readings.
- ODSL 9 - This is a highly precise optical distance sensor, and works against harsh surfaces, e.g. glossy objects.
- ODS 10 - The optical distance sensor measures the distance to a non-cooperating target, making the information available as a measurement value. The device works at a maximum range of 4000mm, while a range of 25000mm can be achieved using a reflector.
Light Curtains are an essential requirement of any facility with machinery that can pose a risk to human life. By eliminating safety risks, light curtains indirectly improve the productivity of the environment. Leuze Electronic offers the following light curtains:
- MLC 500 - These are type-4 safety light curtains and can be used to safeguard even the most sophisticated machinery on the plant floor. The devices can be used universally due to their flexible design, and are IP67/69K certified for use in harsh environments.
- MLC300 - These are type 2 safety light curtains, available in basic & standard versions, fulfilling a variety of user requirements. The curtains can be used in extensive applications and sport metal end caps, flexible fastening and AIDA-complaint pin assignment.
Digitization is affecting all walks of life, from the way we travel to the way we spend our money to the way we gain knowledge. People are becoming more empowered and expect greater quality, something that’s driving competition to great heights. The pace of innovation and the ability to disrupt the market is ramping up, with each company looking for ways to improve their productivity while alleviating their costs.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken the manufacturing world by storm. By tapping into the already existing streams of data, IoT based software & hardware technologies have defined the term “automation” in a futuristic manner. For manufacturers especially, the implications are grand. It is estimated that by 2025, IoT could unleash as much as $2.31 trillion in global economic value.
But don’t let sheer numbers get to your head. Migrating from a conventional system to a IoT based one is easier said than done. Makings sure you’re checking all the necessary boxes is vital for your company’s survival. Decisions regarding the choice of hardware & software can be daunting due to the confusing & overwhelming technology used.