The key part of Industry 4.0 (and the Internet of Things in general) is having devices and machines sharing their data through an internet connection.
By installing different sensors throughout a device, information about all the IIoT machine's components can be made available over the internet throughout operation and even recorded for future reference.
For machines or robots in an industrial setting, this shared data can be used to create a virtual snapshot of the functions and status of each machine as well as the entire manufacturing center.
Facilities employing these techniques are becoming known as smart factories, and it's largely possible because of servo drives.
The Role of Servo Drives
By design, servo drives are great gatherers of IIoT machine status data. They're connected to numerous components and constantly pull data from them. This doesn't just include current, voltage, speed, position, and back EMF from the motor; It also includes operating information from I/O devices and sensors (such as thermometers or accelerometers). Servo drives also have their own internal operating data that can be useful.
What's more is servo drives are already connected to a network bus, a great pathway for that data to be sent to the machine's main controller.
From the main controller, the data can be compiled and then shared or accessed via an internet connection with the facility's mainframe or over the web.
Advantages of Shared Machine Data
Making IIoT machine status available throughout the factory and beyond has numerous benefits.
Maintenance and Technical Support
Analysis and readouts of temperature, pressure, speed, or other properties can indicate the health of components within a machine. As long as the servo drive has access to the relevant data, then it can send it to the controller which can make it available over the internet. Factory managers can set up alerts when a machine's component readouts reach a level indicating that they might need attention or replacement.
If the machine owner's technicians can't fix a machine's problems themselves, they can seek help from the machine's original manufacturer. With access to the status of the machine's components, remote technical support becomes much more streamlined. It's easy for the original manufacturer to identify the problem and eliminate variables quickly without using the factory technicians as a middleman.
As mentioned before, the data collected by servo drives sent to the controller sent to the can not only be shared with the facility's central command, but also logged. This creates a record of each component's readings and can make it apparent when errors may have been occurring.
Products being built can be tracked throughout the entire assembly process. This data can also be logged.
If it's found that a certain machine was operating incorrectly for a certain time, it becomes easy to determine which products were possibly affected and isolate them for inspection.
The digital record of each IIoT machine's processes and performance can also be analyzed and used to improve overall manufacturing productivity. With data on timing and throughput of each machine process, algorithms can be developed to optimize efficiency for different jobs.
New algorithms can also be developed to modify production procedures if a machine is currently non-operational to preserve as much efficiency as possible.