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MICA allows manufacturers to access information from machines, such as energy use and cycle times, and combine it with production figures to generate valuable real-time data. Once this information is unlocked, it gives the user a better understanding of what’s happening on the shop floor and allows them to develop strategies for efficient production planning and predictive maintenance.
Thanks to its open source software, the MICA is extremely versatile and can be used to undertake a variety of projects across a range of markets, including condition monitoring and asset management. What’s more, it can be easily retrofitted to legacy machines, to achieve all the benefits of Industry 4.0 and the ‘Smart Factory’.
HARTING has recently responded to customer demands and produced the MICA Wireless, a device with all the advantages of a standard MICA but with the added benefits of portability, Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth Low Energy and GPS.
LTE for 4G communications means the MICA Wireless can operate on remote sites where local network areas are unavailable. The addition of GPS allows location tracking to be implemented and Bluetooth LE lets you connect to the latest generation of wireless sensors. As a result, you can collect and process data directly at the machine or plant and wirelessly forward relevant information to MES and ERP systems.
MICA Wireless utilises the MICA modular hardware design, so it can be combined with existing or customer-specific function boards. Because of its open software architecture, a host of modern open source tools such as C, C++, Java, Python, node.js, Node-RED, R are available for programming and data processing.
We caught up with Gavin Stoppel, Product Manager at HARTING, to ask him about this latest addition to the MICA range.
What are the main benefits of the MICA Wireless over standard models?
“Flexibility is a huge benefit. This is a rugged, IP-rated edge computer that can be mounted wirelessly which removes the need to interface into an existing wired infrastructure. It is therefore incredibly easy to get your digitalisation project up and running. It’s the same principle as connecting your phone to a Wi-Fi network, so the whole process of getting started has been simplified greatly.”
What are some of the applications for MICA Wireless?
“The main application is interfacing into Industry 4.0, namely connecting to wireless sensors which can then be integrated into your MES/ERP system. This allows you to export production data from the shop floor easily and without the need for hardwired sensors, so you have the flexibility to use the MICA in any production environment you choose. MICA Wireless can also be used for tracking assets, much like RFID, but with the added advantage of being able to track over a much wider area.”
What do you believe the future holds for digitalisation projects?
“Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) is an incredibly exciting area of development and more and more manufacturers of wireless sensors are starting to embrace this technology. Currently, engineers are developing increasingly cost-effective smart sensor solutions, which brings condition monitoring into the Industrial Internet of Things environment.
“For example, this new technology allows temperature and humidity levels to be closely monitored remotely, which has applications for a wide range of industries, such as temperature-critical logistics. Within manufacturing, I think the next steps will be the ability to measure shock and vibration levels on portable machinery and remote diagnostics of wear and tear.”
For more information on the MICA range, please visit: https://www.harting-mica.com/en
About the author:
Gavin Stoppel is a Product Manager at HARTING, specialising in the Internet of Things and its application across various industries. His background is in process control and automation in the petrochemicals industry and he has over 35 years’ experience across manufacturing, product management and sales.
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