Smarter Automation Is Accelerating Digital Transformation

May 10, 2023
Data is everything in today’s manufacturing environment. But capturing data that can guide critical decisions about production, labor and machine maintenance can be a challenge for companies looking to shift to smarter automation solutions.

Creating an overlay network to capture actionable machine data from both new and existing sources, regardless of manufacturer, can be key to a factory’s digital transformation. By incorporating nearly any sensor found on a factory floor, I/O systems can be built that fully make use of rich data from both new and legacy equipment. This can be done without disrupting existing controls and without the expense that comes with all-new sensors, thereby simplifying and speeding up installation and implementation.

Unifying disparate signals

Sensors, tower lights, valves, motor drives and other devices all send out signals as part of their basic function. By capturing and monitoring these signals, operators can unlock a wealth of valuable machine information.

To facilitate communication among devices, Banner Engineering’s Snap Signal suite of modular hardware taps into each source’s data stream. Converters, most of which are the size of a single AA battery, take these signals and change them to a unified protocol. With the data speaking a common language, it is ready for distribution, analysis and visualization via monitoring platforms such as a local PLC/HMI, the cloud, or a SCADA system.

Two major benefits of converting disparate signals to a unified protocol are the ability to easily incorporate legacy sensors and the seamless transmission of data across multiple IIoT (industrial Internet of Things) ecosystems. No matter what language a device is speaking—whether it’s discrete, analog, IO-Link, serial, Modbus or Profinet—data coming from that device can be accessed and used.

Analyzing data to understand trends

Smart automation systems can provide a clear picture of both present and future machine operation, combining functional data with predictive information to track performance. For example, a radar sensor monitoring the volume of liquid in a tank can display this level via an indicator light bar on the side of the vessel.

When the tank level gets low, a connected controller can instruct the indicator to flash, notify a nearby operator and send a text message to operators elsewhere letting them know that the tank needs to be filled. Over time, trends in data collected from the sensors can indicate when raw materials need to be ordered to maintain inventory while preventing overstocking.

Elsewhere in the same system, a temperature and humidity sensor can monitor a nearby enclosure to ensure it does not overheat and cause the PLC or other electronics to fail. Changing trends in temperature and humidity data can indicate the potential for equipment stoppage, letting operators perform maintenance before a serious breakdown occurs.

By monitoring a single sensor, you can understand cycle time, throughput and uptime. If you have multiple machines with identical sensing points, performance comparisons can easily be made among the machines. Data from these sensors can help improve efficiencies, lower costs, and predict equipment maintenance needs.

Making connections easy

To remove barriers to digital transformation—both real and perceived—Snap Signal uses standard M12 connections and creates a unique plug-and-play overlay network by connecting existing devices using splitter cables. The attached monitoring connections “listen” to the signals, preventing existing devices from interfering with the control system. The quick connections remove the need for rerouting previous cable runs, speeding up the process of monitoring devices on your machine. Devices lacking an M12 connector can be easily converted using field-wirable M12 connectors.

Processing on the edge

The intelligence that drives Snap Signal is found in Banner’s DXMR90 series of controllers. These compact, programmable devices consolidate signals from multiple connections, process data, and provide a gateway to the IIoT. A built-in logic controller provides local processing of action rules and scripts for data analytics, condition monitoring, predictive maintenance, OEE analysis, diagnostics and overall troubleshooting.

Maximizing performance through data

Automation is made smarter by collecting, converting and processing data from nearly any source right where it’s being generated. Snap Signal accelerates your digital transformation by providing the flexibility to monitor key equipment in one area or your whole facility—and monitor from anywhere, any time—to improve efficiency, performance and maximize machine uptime.

Sean R. Foley is global product manager at Banner Engineering.

Companies in this Article

Sponsored Recommendations

Measurement instrumentation for improving hydrogen storage and transport

Hydrogen provides a decarbonization opportunity. Learn more about maximizing the potential of hydrogen.

Learn About: Micro Motion™ 4700 Config I/O Coriolis Transmitter

An Advanced Transmitter that Expands Connectivity

Learn about: Micro Motion G-Series Coriolis Flow and Density Meters

The Micro Motion G-Series is designed to help you access the benefits of Coriolis technology even when available space is limited.

Micro Motion 4700 Coriolis Configurable Inputs and Outputs Transmitter

The Micro Motion 4700 Coriolis Transmitter offers a compact C1D1 (Zone 1) housing. Bluetooth and Smart Meter Verification are available.