Machine builders are finding it hard to remain competitive and need to find ways to capture new markets. Moreover, with more competition from abroad, they need to differentiate their offering in ways customers find interesting. Failure to achieve this is a fast way to the bottom of the price-driven negotiations. Smart controllers help make the difference.
There are different ways for machine builders to win new customers for their business. One is to focus on the design aesthetics and how the equipment interfaces with the operators and plant. Advanced HMIs improve both the look and feel of the machine, including its functionality and flexibility. Efficiency in operation is essential, well designed and easy to use control panels contribute to this.
Secure remote connection options are growing in popularity as they allow engineers access to all areas and provide immediate analysis of problems. For example, by connecting to modern predictive and preventative maintenance tools, they reduce unplanned machine downtime. Moreover, linking to augmented reality tools and smart glasses reduces diagnostics and increases uptimes. In short, building smarter machines supports smart manufacturers by delivering what customers value. So, what does this mean for the machine designer?
According to Schneider Electric, smart manufacturing is about leveraging advanced technologies to optimise operations and gain a competitive advantage. Smart infrastructures within plants enable a more efficient manufacturing process, allowing faster responses to dynamic marketplace demands. A core component within the smart manufacturing facility is the smart machine. This is why OEM machine builders now find themselves at the heart of the industrial digitisation revolution.
Smart controllers within a machine allow it to be connectible, flexible, secure, scalable and ready for monitoring. Combined with software analytics, smart controllers enable machines to anticipate changes that may happen in the future. Such capabilities allow producers to optimise their output and to make better decisions that help maximise profitability.
The convergence of logic and motion
Smart controllers like the Modicon M262 provide combinations of functions to help machine builders address end-user digitisation challenges. For instance, it simultaneously provides both logic and motion control for the machine. This convergence of high precision capabilities enhances both machine development and field performance, whilst also making programming easier. Furthermore, connectivity, flexibility, scalability and conformity to new IIoT requirements in cybersecurity and data management also benefit.
Linking PLCs to the cloud needs managed gateways, whereas modern smart controllers do not. Instead, they offer lightweight data format JSON and cloud protocols MQTTs or HTTPS. With embedded encryption protocols like TLS, they link to the cloud in a cyber-secure manner.
Modicon M262 smart controllers form part of a larger collaborative ecosystem within the Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Machine framework. This is an open IIoT-ready platform for collaboration with 3rd party devices and partner software. As a result, achieving rapid investment paybacks through the deployment of digitised solutions is relatively viable (like smart controllers) because OEMs and users do not have to start from scratch.
Linking technologies together in an open but cyber secure framework allows for the management of data. It is the best way of making decisions to improve plant profitability.