Sensors are valuable sources of information and can also be used outside of conventional machine and plant engineering to optimize processes and conserve resources.
The Internet of Things opens up new possibilities for networking even sensors spread over long distances. Sensor signals can be provided at exactly the right time in the place where the information contained in the signals can be used profitably.
For example, the detection of filling levels using modern sensor technology is possible in most cases with lesser or greater ease. Where containers are spread over long distances, however, greater cost is often involved with the transmission of sensor signals. This means automated solutions have to be disregarded and filling levels have to be monitored manually with more or less regular observations.
With networking via the Internet, level data from a large number of sensors spread over long distances can be processed centrally and prepared for further processing.
Pepperl+Fuchs shows connections of sensors to various cloud platforms in a solutions park.
An application has been developed with partner connectavo which uses sensors to record the filling levels of the reservoirs of a number of filling machines in use across various production sites and manages these levels centrally.
The replenishment logistics are simplified as a result and downtimes due to a lack of materials are avoided. In addition, if the filling level falls below a critical level, a message is sent to the mobile phone of the person responsible for replenishment.
A different application has been implemented together with SAP. A sensor for type verification of light units for mobile compressors is used in this application and the data from this sensor is supplied in the cloud of an MES system that organizes the material flow for the complete assembly of the compressors.
Status data from sensors in company IT
The increase in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is one of the most important applications of Industry 4.0. The retrofitting of existing production systems poses major challenges for plant operators.
The application presented as a joint project by Pepperl+Fuchs, TE Connectivity, and Software AG uses hardware that can easily be retrofitted. This is based on the sensor level of the SmartBridge interface from Pepperl+Fuchs and on the control and fieldbus level of the spark device of TE Connectivity. These two data ports transmit the extracted performance data via cable or via a radio interface to the business platform of Software AG. This platform allows three important added value services within the context of Industry 4.0 through data consolidation with a downstream analysis:
1. Process optimization
Spark uses the process data from sensors and actuators from the control level and displays this on a dashboard, which also reveals less obvious delays or micro-downtimes with the help of a historical data recorder.
2. Status monitoring
A correlation of historical events with the actual machine runtimes and maintenance recommendations of the manufacturers provide a good picture of the actual (maintenance) status of the machine or plant.
3. Service on demand
Photoelectric sensors from Pepperl+Fuchs even provide information about diminishing detection capability due to soiling of the exit lens or the reflector. This information is extracted from the machine circuit with the help of the SmartBridge interface and transmitted to a service platform via an Internet gateway. The platform evaluates the status information from the sensors and, where necessary, triggers a field service application, which can be completed either by internal or external maintenance service providers.