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The idea is to create a smart production environment with an entirely connected eco-system that captures and records data which can be used to improve productivity, efficiency, save costs and reduce downtime. Simple if you’re building a new factory, but what about existing ones with legacy equipment?
What is it you actually want from your facility?
You all want the same things: higher OEE, higher transparency and faster reaction to demands. Now that’s great if you’re building a new factory but in actuality, the majority are brownfield sites which have been around for years and don’t look anything like they were first designed.
There are three main issues inside existing factories:
1. Disparate technologies and systems – it ultimately depends which vendor is flavour of the month.
2. Little transparency – there’s still a lot of manual operation and manual data recorded.
3. Machines from different generations – factories have a mixture of older machinery with no automation and new machinery with automation and all those in between.
So, how do we give customers and end-users visibility of their existing assets with minimum investment and disruption?
Implementing IIoT in existing factories
There are three major requirements of Industrial IoT for existing factories:
1. Transform messages into information: Giving messages a universal meaning turns them into information. The aim is to get your disparate technologies into a single format that you can understand but every vendor has its own format of information which doesn’t always match what the end user requires.
2. Real-time calculation of KPIs: KPIs calculated on-site can allow faster reaction from machine operators.
3. Enhancement must be economically suitable: There needs to be minimum capital and operational expenditure – you can’t be selling existing capital to buy new equipment or increase your staff in the hopes of reaching better machine performance.
There has to be some way of achieving these with minimal expenditure. The conventional method of getting information from machines is to add some kind of industrial gateway. You then feed that data to the Cloud, run some analytics and generate a report, pass that onto the operator and they will make some changes – either to improve productivity or throughput for example.
However, this is a timely process. By the time you’ve exported the data to the Cloud and run a report you’ve lost two, three or even four days of production. You have to rely on constant Cloud connectivity to run analytics and the reports you tend to get are higher level business reports rather than things pertinent to a machine operator. Also, the Cloud is expensive! So, in answer to these problems, B&R designed the Orange Box.
Smartphone-like Industrial IoT solution
The Orange Box enables machine operators to collect and analyse data from previously isolated machines and lines and get them fit for the smart factory with minimal effort.
An Orange Box consists of a controller with application specific I/O modules, an HMI screen and B&R’s preconfigured software blocks – known as mapps (Modular Applications). The controller collects operating data from any machine via its I/O channels and fieldbus connection. From this data, the mapps generate and display OEE ratings and other KPIs, and can also share the information with higher-level systems via OPC UA.
Installing the Orange Box requires no changes to existing hardware or software. Equipment owners can achieve a substantial boost in productivity with a remarkably small investment in time and cost. Thanks to the mapps, the Orange Box is as simple and intuitive to operate as a smartphone.
The Orange Box is also entirely flexible and modular. To collect and analyse basic operating data, all you need is a 25mm-wide compact PLC and the mapp OEE component. For more advanced features – such as alarm management or energy monitoring – the solution can easily be scaled up with more powerful PLCs and additional software components.
Choose the Orange Box if:
• Single machines or lines need to be connected and OEE/KPI calculation of Orange Box is sufficient
• Installation and configuration cannot be modified: neither existing hardware nor software needs to be changed or exchanged
• Increased data transparency is needed: data is collected and evaluated fully automatically in real-time
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