Why smart controllers are driving smart manufacturing

OEM machine builders now find themselves at the heart of the industrial digitisation revolution. New generations of smart controllers are at the heart of smart machines, and the smart machines they build are the pillars of smart manufacturing.

Smart manufacturing involves leveraging the benefits of advanced technologies to optimise operations and gain a competitive advantage. Smart infrastructures within plants enable a more efficient manufacturing process and thus faster responses to dynamic market demands.


The growth of smart controllers

The smart controller is central to the smart machine as it controls both the process and also communicates to the IT layer. It allows data interpretation for signalling changes in machine workload demand and resource availability when aggregating the plant capacity. This is essential for providing the transparency needed for real-time decision making and controlling processes to ensure the best return on assets.
Smart controllers within the machine allow it to be connectible, flexible, secure, scalable and ready for monitoring. Software analytics and smart controllers enable the machine to react and expect future changes. Such capabilities allow the factory to optimise its output and make better decisions that help to maximise profit.


Combining logic and motion control

New controller developments provide combinations of functions to help machine builders address the challenges to end users posed by digitisation. For example, smart controllers that provide both logic and high precision motion control can enhance machine development and performance.

Yet, interactions between a controller (PLC) and cloud services need a communication gateway. Moreover, where several PLC to cloud connections exist, the gateways need managing, representing a further separation between the PLC and the data.

Modern smart controllers like the Modicon M262 need no gateways as they offer native lightweight data format JSON and cloud protocols MQTTs or HTTPs. Using embedded encryption protocols like TLS they link to the cloud in a cyber-secure manner.


Faster implementation of digitised manufacturing

The Schneider Electric framework integrates smart controllers into an architecture called EcoStruxure Machine. EcoStruxure is an IIoT-ready platform for embracing openness and collaboration with third-party devices and partner software. Its open framework for linking common technologies makes it easy for OEMs and end-users to digitise mixed vendor environments.

It helps deliver rapid investment paybacks through digitised solutions because OEMs and users do not have to start from scratch. Their pre-built architecture links smart devices to edge control and software, analytics and services. This supports the transition to digitised environments and can help to define future digitisation priorities.

Delivering smart manufacturing requires mastering the ability to orchestrate both existing and new technologies. The data gathered and linked to the cloud will not convert to useful, actionable information without a logical architectural foundation. Linking technologies together in an open cyber secure framework supports the management of data to guide decision making to grow plant profitability.

In particular, find out how BPX and the Modicon M262 IIoT ready controller can help your business grow