An increasing number of U.S. manufacturers are embracing the concept of smarter machining and the Industrial Internet of Things.
The IoT is fundamentally reshaping the industrial landscape, according to Beth Parkinson, director of market development at Rockwell Automation’s Connected Enterprise.
Machine and equipment builders are now starting to look at how they can leverage IoT technologies to expand capabilities in how they build intelligence into their equipment, including expanding the ability for remote monitoring, reporting and management to prevent unplanned downtime.
Smart manufacturing is a highly connected, knowledge-enabled industrial enterprise, where devices and processes are connected, monitored and optimized to enhance productivity, sustainability and economic performance.
Jennifer McNelly is executive director of the Manufacturing Institute, which focuses on improving and expanding manufacturing in the U,S. She says that 35% of American manufacturers currently use data generated by smart sensors to enhance their processes.
This means taking into account advances that allow smart objects and machines to interact and communicate with one another, configure themselves, analyze data, predict and prevent failures and adapt to changes within the manufacturing process.
TE Connectivity is investing in factory IIoT solutions that are compatible with existing automation, especially for upgrading existing machinery.
This includes ARISO Contactless Connectivity, which aims to overcome traditional limitations of space, vibration, dust and dirt, and user-friendly “field-installable” connectors that require no tools. For Gijs Werner, strategic marketing manager:
One of the biggest advantages of smart manufacturing is remote maintenance management and enabling subsystems to take autonomous, decentralized decisions. The overall effect of integrated manufacturing systems is a reduction in downtime and significant productivity gains.
Smart machining is progressing at a rapid rate, agrees Daniel Walldorf, Industrial IoT business development:
There is more to come. Self-learning and self-optimizing machines will be the next step. You won’t have to teach machines anymore, they will learn by themselves.
Towards the Virtual Design of Machinery?
We are already seeing complete virtualized machine designs. This will be more and more common practice in coming years, whereby end-users can ‘touch and feel’ machines before they are built. Today the focus is mainly on the functional or mechanical side of machines but I expect this to be expanded to a virtual world where machines can be demonstrated as part of the complete supply chain where setups can be demonstrated, tested, changed and the optimum can be found before complete systems are built.