HMI streamlines access to factory information

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Wrestling big data to the ground and forcing it to give up its most valuable information is not a task for the faint-hearted. The volume of data produced by a factory’s machines often overwhelms the would-be user. And the complexity of polling machines for data, then moving it into an IT or business-level database before any analysis can be done, just slows down an already cumbersome and time-consuming process.

Pity the poor machine operator who’s just trying to figure out why the production line isn’t working properly. But now there’s a way to eliminate layers of data handling that slow down the process.

“While most suppliers require you to program a PC or PLC to move all this information into a database where it can be analyzed, Mitsubishi Electric has devised a programmable human-machine interface (HMI), the GOT 2000, that pushes data directly to the database,” says Lee Cheung, product marketing manager. “Not only is the data from each machine already in the HMI terminal, but it can be accessed directly by the operator using a touchscreen without waiting for data analysis.

“Since the GOT interface is already connected to the components of the machines that make up the production line, including drives and robots, the data path is directly mapped,” he explains. “That means there’s one less layer of handling, which speeds up data access and simplifies the engineering involved in architecting the system, as well as the efficiency of how well it runs.”

The amount of information available through the GOT interface is unique, claims Cheung. “Operators have access to information from the servos, VFDs and robots, as well as alarms. It’s pretty unusual to get that kind of comprehensive view of what’s going on in all the components in a production system.”

Mitsubishi Electric servos, for example, include a machine-learning algorithm in the amplifier. This built-in AI can diagnose unusual torque, friction or vibration, so an operator can see how well the mechanical portions of a machine are functioning. That data can also be used for trend analysis. In addition, the HMI system can provide general load characteristics from VFDs, including load ratios, as well as maintenance forecasts from robots.

“This encyclopedic access to information is what makes it a smart devices, whether the data is used for IT analysis, by the operator or for maintenance,” says Cheung.

“Many customers in the automotive segment rely on the GOT system to avoid downtime. Others, using wireless connectivity, find it a good option for servicing equipment, such as OEMs who make car wash systems,” he adds.

“The GOT 2000 is capable of connecting to two separate networks, passing data between them while remaining secure,” he explains. “Since most factories already have both IT and factory networks, it provides a simple approach to IT/OT convergence.”
Mitsubishi Electric has also introduced a GOT mobile function to allow monitoring and maintenance from mobile terminals based on data information received via the GOT. This mobile function for remote monitoring and maintenance uses web technologies. By accessing the GOT web server from a web browser running on a PC or mobile terminal, devices can be monitored independently, and data information can be accessed with the browser on each terminal.
The data that is displayed can be contextualized for the viewer, so only the relevant information is shown to different personnel. For example, production managers are most likely to want to see the current production status to determine if production targets are being met.
Maintenance engineers, on the other hand, will be more interested in monitoring alarms, errors and maintenance forecasts. Especially convenient is the ability to view troubleshooting videos and documentation directly on a mobile terminal, allowing a maintenance engineer to move freely around the machine and quickly remedy any problems.

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