Not all that long ago, if you went running, you would use your watch for lap times or to let you know when it was time to call it a day.
Jump forward a few years and your watch can tell you how many steps you have taken and even measure your heart beat. Come forward a little more and all of a sudden you have a GPS-assisted dynamic map, an altimeter, pollution indices and NFC – to pay for your post-run protein shake – all coupled to the newfound ability to share your efforts, route, heartbeat and athletic photos on just about every social media channel you care to mention.
This evolution in personal technology is an almost exact copy of what is happening in the industrial world. Looking at the basics, let’s consider a sensor that simply supplied a “yes” or “no” signal – then sensors became smarter and shared more than just simple on/off data. This data then expanded in volume and evolved into something that could be analysed before being shared with a dashboard so everyone can see what the sensor is seeing.
Collecting data, analysing data and sharing data are the key points here. But this data must be something worth sharing in a format that makes sense to other users.
Whether it is the wonderful view from your running route or a sensor telling you that it might be getting a bit dirty – or that the last 50 products have been slightly oversized versus the previous 50 – all data has an endpoint. It is what you do at this endpoint that adds the real value to the data you are collecting.
But you still need to be a bit choosy in what you go for. Everyone makes smart devices, but it’s how you can put these together and the simplicity with which you can do this that sets you apart – something that our customers are telling us that we have achieved.
In general, operational intelligence and the subsequent analytics can only be really useful if you use the right smart devices coupled to the right software.
As early computer practitioners extolled: garbage in = garbage out. Your aim should be to get the right information, analyse it using complementary software and then deliver it in a form that others downstream will find useful.
This approach to smart manufacturing is not something you should farm out to multiple companies – otherwise you will end up with multiple platforms, multiple protocols and multiple conflicts.
A true holistic approach sits on one platform, over one network and can be designed, programmed and controlled in one environment.
If I have piqued your interest, why not join us at the SPS IPC Drives event 27-29 November 2018 in Nuremberg, Germany, in hall 9 at stand 205?
You’ll be able to see much of what I have discussed in action. Even if you leave our stand with just an idea or action plan on how to smarten up your operations, half of our job is done. And we can certainly help you with the other half.
Co-authored by Michael Mueller Field Business Leader DACH Power and Components, Rockwell Automation