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Guest Editorial

Don’t wait to implement IIoT

By Paxton Shantz, Beckhoff Automation LLC

FFJ 0321 guest lead2March 2021 - As we begin the process of recovering from the pandemic, a key component for domestic manufacturing is our ability to embrace and harness the power of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and integrated systems. Although the terms are familiar, I see too much misinformation that overcomplicates these ideas and their implementation.

This misinformation often stems from companies that are selling unnecessary software or hardware in attempts to lock you into a singular solution for a technology that should be open. It also distracts people from the true goal of allowing integrated systems to make decisions in real-time (using Industry 4.0 concepts and machine learning).

Consider, for example, two common challenges: late deliveries and poor quality. Manufacturers that aren’t leveraging IIoT technologies possess no central database to access and immediately analyze data, so they instead work to piece together information and make (subjective) human decisions based on historical data. In addition to the data being historic, it typically only considers information from the MES and machine control (PLC). Late deliveries and quality often become a question about the materials and machine and rarely about subtleties, such as scheduling, that could be attributed to the ERP system.

The amount of money being invested into ERP systems often obscures any shortcomings. Without integrated IIoT, we continue trying to squeeze more out of machines and operators instead of focusing on optimizing the orders, the scheduling, etc. As a result, even a high-quality machine’s overall equipment effectiveness can drop to dismal levels, even below 50 percent in some cases. Any manufacturer not developing a plan to begin or complete their digital transformation—to digitize all their plant information into a central “unified namespace”—will face increasing difficulties catching up and will very soon find themselves unable to compete with companies that have migrated.

While an IIoT strategy could harness third-party cloud services, it could also include aggregating data at the enterprise level, sending select information for review in analytics software or performing analytics directly on the machine controller. Placing the focus on an open-architecture IIoT system, which easily connects to any machine and publishes to the local manufacturing unified namespace, will correctly prioritize immediate production gains and waste reduction. If there is hesitation about connecting to the cloud, it is okay to only embrace local IIoT to digitize data from the business side and the shop floor and then consolidate it in a unified namespace over a local area network (MQTT, OPC UA, etc.). This strategy allows you to begin without the potential security threats from outside connections.

Developing a mature analytics solution will take some time. But it is critical to select partners, including integrators, machine builder OEMs and suppliers that provide truly open IIoT solutions. Ignoring this at the start can result in unnecessary expenses and an underpowered solution. Don’t wait to reach out to experts. Now is the time to act. Whether large or small, successful manufacturing and production will belong to those that invest in an IIoT solution that successfully analyzes and digitizes their business systems to make decisions based on subtleties that might otherwise remain unnoticed.  FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Beckwood Press Co. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Triform

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc.

LASER TECHNOLOGY

Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC MC Machinery Systems Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SigmaTEK Systems LLC

BEVELING

Murata Machinery, USA, Inc. Davi Inc. Striker Systems
Steelmax Tools LLC TRUMPF Inc.

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

COIL PROCESSING

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Bradbury Group MTS Sensors Rolleri USA

STEEL

Burghardt + Schmidt Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial Automec Inc. BLM Group
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies SafanDarley

WATERJET

Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

PUNCHING

Barton International

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc. Behringer Saws Inc.

WELDING

Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company

 

MetalForming Inc.

 

 

 

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

 

 

 

Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

 


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