The process of integrating new, advanced manufacturing solutions into existing systems can appear to some to be similar to the old adage, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” The ability to easily add, monitor, and analyze sensor data on pneumatic systems, and other fluid power applications are more along the lines of “I can maintain it before it breaks” rather than “I can fix it before it breaks.”
The Industrial Internet of Things promises that it will capture machine data in real-time, allowing for the monitoring and measuring of machine health. Through the use of intelligent systems and dynamic analytics, we can achieve greater operational efficiency while simultaneously decreasing maintenance costs and downtime. As new machines are produced, it is predicted that intelligence will be built into the systems at the front end.
However, in the enormous retrofit market, the largest amount of value can be discovered. The idea of tearing down an existing system and starting again is unappealing when adding sensors and software can achieve the same result. Many factors, including time, skill, and capital inputs, can obstruct the successful application of these intelligent systems. However, as Kevin Kakascik of AutomationDirect points out in a recent article, these obstacles can—and should—be easily overcome by gaining a better understanding of the advantages.
“Many end-users and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are finding it simple to integrate IIoT capabilities into their pneumatic equipment and other automated systems,” writes Kakascik. No matter what brand, model, or the age of equipment and associated controllers are in use, there are intelligent devices and cloud-enabled PLCs that make this possible and feasible. One of the first practical effects will be a reduction in maintenance costs.
We have always considered maintenance to be a profit center rather than a cost center, and better managing machine health allows plant leaders to conduct preventive maintenance at a lower cost and at a time that is convenient for the operations team, rather than reacting to fire-fighting crises when equipment underperforms or requires repair when the equipment fails.
The greater benefit of an intelligent system, on the other hand, is a better understanding of the overall performance of the system. You may begin by better understanding and managing your compressed air costs, which will help you save money in the long run. (As an aside, energy should be regarded as a profit center in its own right.) You can check the cycle times and the performance of solenoids in this section. You have the ability to take command of the entire enterprise.
Understanding is driven by data, which is a fantastic and sometimes underutilized source. The concept that Kakascik underlines in this piece is that, according to him, “Not only is this approach flexible, but it is also modular and scalable.” “Users, systems integrators, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can experiment with IIoT functionality before implementing it on a much larger scale once it has been proven.”