Machine and Process Management

Is the IIoT Only Relevant for Complex Systems and Sophisticated Products?

In our daily life we are seeing more and more things become connected. It’s not only things that we expect to be, and derive value from being, connected, like our computers, phones, or temperature controllers, but there is now the possibility to connect simple things like our toothbrushes and combs!

We can think about a manufacturing site in a similar way – we know that PLCs, energy monitoring devices, and variable speed drives are very important “connected things” that bring better efficiency (among other things) to an IIoT solution. But it’s often difficult to imagine how and why we would connect the simplest products to the IIoT.

However, even connecting a simple electro-mechanical pushbutton can help you increase the efficiency of your manufacturing process. Let’s take the example of the infamous big red button – the emergency stop button.

As you surely know, most emergency stop pushbuttons can use an additional auxiliary contact to indicate their status to an edge controller. When all emergency stop pushbuttons within a factory are providing their status to the edge controllers, and that information is shared on a map, it is possible for the maintenance team to more quickly localize an actuation, either accidental or voluntary. Quicker identification of where an action has taken place leads to quicker answers, and then your production can be restarted in a shorter time.

With the same system, the map showing the status of all emergency stop pushbuttons within a factory can also be displayed in the first aid office, which means first aid workers can be notified more quickly where to go in case of an accident on a large site.

It is also possible to go one step further – the collected data of all emergency stop pushbuttons can be logged and analyzed by specific software, and shown using specific applications. Finding which emergency stop pushbutton is activated more often can help you gain some key insights into your process, including:

  • Are some parts of your production lines more dangerous for your operators?
  • Is there an area where your manufacturing line is often stopped to solve technical issues, for example a jam on a conveyor belt?
  • Do your operators use the machines properly and do they need some training? For example, if they use emergency stop pushbuttons instead of the normal stop pushbutton at the end of a shift then restarting at the beginning of the next shift could be slower and the machines could require more maintenance due to a more brutal stop…

One last point, which I know you are thinking, is that this can surely easily be achieved in a new installation where the integration of this data is planned during the early stage of engineering. But what about existing installations? Well, wireless technology enables the ability to provide the auxiliary contact of emergency stop pushbuttons over radio, which means that the upgrade of an industrial site to enable such capabilities can be done without creating a wiring nightmare.And so, while the value of connecting your comb to the internet is questionable at the very least, we can clearly see the value of connecting even the most simple industrial products in a manufacturing site.

Discover more about our simple connected products, with our Harmony range of pushbuttons.

 


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