Machine connectivity offers the promise of reduced maintenance costs, improved serialization, less product loss and better safety. In theory, these are all valuable benefits that machine builders can provide to end users. But how much of that vision is actually being implemented?
"It's one thing to talk about smart machines, but it's another thing to see it," explained Andy Pringle, OEM director for Latin America, Rockwell Automation, who kicked off the Global Machine and Equipment Builder (OEM) Forum at Automation this week in Chicago. "Today, the IIoT [Industrial Internet of Things] is bringing a lot of smart devices into the infrastructure. How do we take data, aggregate it, contextualize it, analyze it and respond to it? And how much does it cost to do that?"
Smart technology and IIoT-enabled connectivity can be used to improve total cost of design, development and delivery, to optimize asset performance and to meet regulatory standards, for example. "Many people look at these as challenges," said Pringle. "I'd prefer to call them opportunities for you to innovate and differentiate the value of your solution in a way that you previously haven't been able to. It's about how you can create a better user experience. Your end-user customer has a goal, whether you call it smart manufacturing, Industry 4.0 in Europe, or China 2025.
The Connected Enterprise is a rapid value creation opportunity, explained Pringle. "We facilitate the sharing of information between industrial assets and the rest of the enterprise value chain," he said. "You know your equipment and your solutions. But do you produce data in real time? How are you contextualizing that information and using it in a way that differentiates you?"
At your service
One company that's been able to successfully capture and contextualize its machine data is Italy-based Cavanna, a 55-year-old, family-owned manufacturer of more than 5,000 installed packaging machines and lines in almost 60 countries. Keeping all these machines in proper running order is the responsibility of a separate business unit, headed by Amedeo Caccia Dominioni, service division director, who also spoke at the Forum.
Through its remote monitoring capabilities, Cavanna is able to help its customers maintain uptime on machinery, even a considerable number of its 104 automatic lines with robots.
"Our main goal is to make those machines run as well as possible and as long as possible," said Dominioni. Over the course of more than a half-century, Cavanna has amassed almost 1,000 customers, built four production plants—two in Italy, one in Brazil and one in the United States—and registered more than 100 patents. "We handle service calls, and we handle all of the training through our Cavanna Flow Pack Academy," said Dominioni. "We also handle film tests with our Test C Lab."
One of its machines is the Cavanna Slim, a very narrow piece of vertically oriented equipment. "It's very space-saving," explained Dominioni. All of the controls Cavanna uses are from Rockwell Automation, including Allen-Bradley ControlLogix and CompactLogix controllers along with the Studio platform.
Monitoring equipment to avoid or at least reduce machine downtime is a generally accepted benefit of remote connectivity. But Cavanna went a step further and decided not to just help with increasing uptime, but to improve operating efficiencies with the data it was already collecting on its mostly customized lines of equipment.
"Years ago, we started with the idea of using smart machines to collect production data to calculate overall equipment effectiveness [OEE] and total cost of ownership [TCO]," said Dominioni. "We are very keen on these. OEE is a combined calculation of availability, performance and quality. Especially in big companies, OEE is very important. Big companies also are asking for TCO because it's equally important."
Cavanna included cameras and sensors to monitor the operations and collect OEE data on one of its lines in the Netherlands. Information on availability, performance and quality are shown on a remote HMI dashboard, and the client can see the situation and understand how the machine is running, and, if there are problems, how to correct them.
"To access this data, we use the eWon Talk2M eCatcher," explained Dominioni. "Most of our machines have this installed in the line. We can talk with the client and with the line.Talk2M is a hosting service that is very, very secure." (eWon is a member of the Rockwell Automation Encompass Partner program.)
For problem-solving, especially in plants where operators might be at a disadvantage when it comes to troubleshooting skills, more information is always appreciated. "Sometimes, our counterpart in the plant is not well-qualified," said Dominioni. "To increase performance and reduce downtime, we try to offer alarm messages and diagnostics that are more detailed. We supply troubleshooting information for as many situations as possible, and we include the possible solutions, so the clients can try first to solve the problem themselves."
Cavanna also provides animated videos for tablets that are designed to help engineers and operators perform certain tasks correctly. "The major parts of the lines are covered by those videos to prevent mistakes," said Dominioni. "We also assist in identifying spare-parts through a tablet-based interactive catalog. We're also promoting smart glasses for remote assistance. You can do the same with an iPad, but the glasses give you hands-free ability."
This article was originally published on ControlGlobal.com.