By Paul Studebaker, Contributing Writer
The vision of seamless connectivity and smooth integration throughout automation and information systems became even more real on the show floor at the 2018 Automation Fair® event, where Rockwell Automation demonstrated the latest technologies of The Connected Enterprise®.
A tour of the Smart Devices and Systems exhibits began with a reminder of the process- and self-diagnostics being incorporated into smart devices. From motor controls to safety systems and sensors, field devices increasingly can deliver useful information.
Smart Field Devices Provide Smart Diagnostics
The newest smart sensors can be hard-wired or connected via IO-Link (it’s the same part number) and provide appropriate self-diagnostics, such as “lens is getting dirty” for an optical presence sensor.
Smart safety components come in hard-wired or GuardLink™ versions, which are supplied power and communicate via the same cable. Smart diagnostics in this application includes information such as which emergency stop switch has been pushed or which sensor has been tripped, and when. Along with speeding repairs, this information can be integrated with context to identify systemic problems with products, lines or operators.
Smart motor controls include contactors and soft starters that can communicate information about their condition and load so you can plan maintenance activities and prevent failures. For example, “an intelligent overload relay that detects an overtemperature problem can predict when it will trip and communicate it over Ethernet to a PLC and the operator,” says Bill Martin, program manager, networked components, Rockwell Automation. “This allows operators to reach a stopping point and prevent the consequences of a sudden, unplanned shutdown.”