Industrial manufacturers and producers across industries are implementing smart manufacturing initiatives into their enterprises.
To succeed, they require smart machines that can easily integrate into a facility, provide access to information and be flexible to quickly react to changing market demands.
As a result, end-user companies are challenging machine and equipment builders to deliver custom, smart and innovative machines that meet their specific needs, and can help them compete and supply globally.
However, building customized, modular machines requires more time and resources – both of which are being stretched thin for many OEMs.
Since this is not an optional task for those who want to stay competitive, machine and equipment builders need to find the right balance between designing standard machines for efficiency, and customizing machines to meet specific needs. They also need to select a solution that meets customer requirements and stays within budget.
A solution? OEMs can create standard, scalable building blocks to leverage when designing machines.
By organizing how they build with a small upfront investment of time and resources, OEMs can more efficiently modify existing designs to build customized machines. This will help them save time and resources over the long term.
OEMs don't have to start this process from scratch. Free, online tools available from companies like Rockwell Automation help them create scalable building blocks; select the right, “just-enough” products; and more efficiently develop customized machines based on the standard blocks. The tools cover the four system, life-cycle phases of a machine, allowing OEMs to concentrate on creating more innovative and differentiated intellectual property.
- Select the Right Equipment: When OEMs start designing a machine, they can use performance and capacity tools to assist with product selection and configuring the architecture. These tools can help OEMs choose which controller will work within the defined parameters of the machine's architecture; get a jump start on CAD documentation; choose the right architecture to meet standards requirements; identify the best motor-drive combination; and more.
- Develop Smarter: To kick off machine development, OEMs can leverage design, conversion and sample code guides that can help accelerate time-to-market. For example, OEMs can use a software, sample-code library to organize and store code by library function. The library provides OEMs an easy way to find and re-use existing code, which leads to generating less new code, producing machines more efficiently, and still meeting customer requirements.
In addition, a wide array of accelerator toolkits include pre-configured components, such as sample machine and application code, to significantly reduce development time.
By implementing the preprogrammed, pretested faceplate/AOI sets for devices, such as drives, networks and I/O modules, OEMs can configure devices without writing a single line of code.
- Commission More Efficiently: Commissioning time can be a significant concern for OEMs, and configuration and diagnostic tools can help OEMs more efficiently set up their machines. System quick-start guides walk OEMs through setting up a machine, from specific drives to the whole network. Accelerator toolkits also provide guides on starting up and troubleshooting machines.
- Maintain for Best Performance: Once a machine is installed and running, OEMs can use status, diagnostic and troubleshooting tools to continuously improve operational efficiency. For instance, the System Ferret is an inventory software tool that seeks out and logs all devices communicating on DeviceNet™, ControlNet™ and EtherNet/IP™ in a control system, and provides a report with catalog numbers, serial numbers, revisions and CIP™ paths. In addition, the EtherNet/IP toolkit provides easy-to-use resources for all phases of EtherNet/IP implementation, including design, configuration, commissioning and troubleshooting.
Design, selection, commissioning and maintenance tools are part of the commitment from Rockwell Automation to help OEMs reduce their time to design, develop and deliver their machines and speed time-to-market. OEMs can work with Rockwell Automation to determine which tools fit their needs best and will have the biggest impact on their business to stay competitive.
For more information on tools available to OEMs.
Co-authored by Steve Mulder: regional segment manager for packaging, Rockwell Automation
CIP, ControlNet, DeviceNet and EtherNet/IP are trademarks of ODVA Inc.