But this is not enough. Nowadays manufacturing companies are focusing on two main targets: the individualization and identification of production lots and the achievement of an efficient production since it has become a usual practice in the manufacturing process to produce variations of the same product or packaging in large quantities.
In the near future, it will be possible to customize products while they are still on the production (for example, customizing soda bottles with a specific name on them).
On the other hand, by adding customization options to the production process, maintaining efficiency at all levels, from plant level to machinery control, becomes a challenge, especially when trying to keep production costs low without compromising the quality of the products.
In order to make all these concepts possible, it is necessary to understand the importance of data exchange between field devices such as sensors and drives.
Balluff offers a wide portfolio to help our customers integrate into this new industrial revolution: "The Industry 4.0". In order to understand the concept of Industry 4.0, we must understand the concept behind this revolution: "The Internet of Things" (IoT).
On a daily basis, we connect our smart phone to several other devices like the car, Smart TVs, computers and, in the future, we will be able to connect all kinds of electronic devices to each other, getting them to exchange all kinds of information; This is called IoT (Internet of Things): intelligent electronic objects interconnected with each other, sharing information.
In the industrial environment, two-way communication between field devices, controllers and systems is also used to view the conditions of the production line in real-time. To describe this communication process, the term "Industrial Internet of Things" (IIoT) is used.
How can we achieve two-way communication between sensors, drives and control systems?
This can be achieved with the help of a comprehensive provider such as Balluff, since we are the only ones in the market that can provide a complete IO-Link architecture (industrial communication protocol for intelligent devices, compatible with most of the preferred industrial networks: Ethernet/IP, ProfiNet, CC-Link, DeviceNet, Profibus DP and EtherCat).
With the IO-Link subnet, and the use of devices enabled with this communication network, you can achieve:
- Flexible manufacturing: production diversification/individualization
- Reduction of downtime due to changes in tools or molds.
- Protection of molds, dies, and tools.
- Fast error detection, quick replacement of damaged sensors and real-time monitoring.
- Databases development for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.
- Implementation of error-proof systems (Poka-Yoke), scrap reduction, space saving.
- Self-parameterization of sensors in the field, recipe changes.
- Improved handling of analog signals, reduced wiring.
….Amongst many other benefits.