Analytics software achieves unprecedented productivity

IIoT benefits like faster time to market, optimising workforce knowledge, increasing productivity, lowering downtime and analytics software have taken time to become practical solutions that benefit OEMs. According to Schneider Electric, EcoStruxure Machine Expert provides an intuitive starting point.

Many disparate technologies have now come together. The core elements of IIoT-ready devices, edge control, software and analytics can now talk to each other. Together, they offer a new generation of digital services to their manufacturing customers.

New digitisation tools simplify core processes such as engineering by configuration (instead of programming), IIoT ready machine control and data analytics. This also extends to basic control devices like motor starters. For example, by applying motor load management to machine building using avatars (digital objects with integrated pre-programmed functions). For OEMs, this means a new way of engineering.

It is an innovative way to reduce programming devices by focusing on configuration by functionality. It is also faster and easier to maintain than custom configuration. The avatar approach eliminates having to look up compatible components in catalogues and then configure individual contactors. The simple action of dragging and dropping a function avatar like one for the control of a reversing motor function. It generates automatic access to libraries and pulls the required devices that enable the function to work. New configuration tools also produce a bill of materials based on the avatar selected.

For machine control, new IIoT-ready PLCs support both logic and motion applications to enhance flexibility while driving down cost. Typical machine applications include packaging, electronics, material handling, hoisting and pumping. The same PLCs also set a new standard in digitisation scalability. Users can extend the power of the CPU to increase the number of access points that the PLC can support. In addition, they can connect to the cloud without the need for a gateway.

They also support open standards to improve machine to device, machine to machine, and machine to plant communication. Such unprecedented flexibility reduces the OEM integration work required when implementing new machines.

Analytics software generating benefits for OEMs


Analytics software represents a third area where OEMs can benefit from digitisation. A simple mouse click can gather and analyse machine performance data to identify behavioural anomalies. Such abilities open the door to new, lucrative monitoring services that OEMs can now offer to end users. This presents two opportunities for achieving unprecedented machine productivity through diagnostic and prognostics.

Machine diagnostic monitoring

Here, custom algorithms identify asset issues of the monitored machines. Firstly, the algorithm learns the machine’s optimal behaviour as a reference point: from these, operating parameters are set. If the machine deviates outside of these parameters, it provides the operator with an early sign of failure. Moreover, it can track other relevant machine parameters like pressure, vibration and current data for pumps, compressors or chillers. This allows the analytics software to identify leaks in a cooling or a pumping system.

Machine prognostic monitoring

Over time, artificial intelligence algorithms teach the monitoring software what is normal and abnormal machine behaviour. This measured data can help predict the future behaviour of the machine: collecting more data provides more dependable, precise, and powerful predictions. For OEMs this could mean less time invested in building physical models to perform simulations. Analytics software helps address performance issues before they result in unplanned downtime.

For example, measuring vibration, current and torque for servo drives helps predict the health of the corresponding mechatronic asset (servo axis, gearbox, robot arm, etc.). Likewise, informing support personnel of increased friction and higher-than-normal thermal loads gives them more time to react.

Linking these innovative technologies is via an open three-layer architecture like Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Machine. It is an architecture designed to support practical implementations of IIoT-ready smart machines.