Uptime—it’s a big focus in the manufacturing environment, today more than ever. The enemy of uptime is unplanned downtime. In any facility, there must be some downtime for maintenance, change over, cleaning, etc. However, nothing ruins productivity like unplanned shutdowns, breakages, and lost product due to poorly operating equipment. The only surefire way to begin reducing downtime and increasing machine efficiency is to collect data throughout your facility to determine the root causes.
Gather Data with IO-Link® Technology
Some of the more common causes of downtime at a machine level are sensors. Whether it be from misalignment, dirty lenses, damage, or incorrect settings for the application, these issues can take a significant amount of time to troubleshoot and remedy, especially in large machines that may have hundreds of sensors. IO-Link can address this significant problem as well as many other issues. IO-Link is a sensor-level network that can help increase efficiency in the plant by providing visibility throughout the plant network into each machine at the sensor level.
Once you have sensor-level data pushed up to the network, a lot of things become possible. Since the sensors are visible to the control system, you can assign meaningful names to the tag structure. Unique names allow data to display on maintenance screens in a meaningful way, giving technicians insight into issues as they arise. You can name sensors by location or function and view their status from an HMI.
Additionally, you can alter settings, such as gain, through the maintenance screens to help sensors ride through to the next planned maintenance. When a sensor does need to be realigned or replaced, you can put it into maintenance mode on the same screens, causing the amber LED to flash in a distinct pattern and making it easy to locate the sensor in question. If you run multiple products on a single line, requiring sensor change over, you can now make the adjustment in seconds from the same maintenance screens.
Increase Machine Efficiency
The data provided through IO-Link is not just for maintenance. It also allows for increased machine efficiency and helps deliver more information to the top line. You can collect information like time-stamped data, temperature, faults, margin warnings, and more. For example, you can use temperature data to determine premature sensor failure and combine this data with a rapid decrease in margin visible through timestamping. Based on that information, you could deduce that the application may benefit from sensor relocation, shielding, or replacement with another sensor type to better suit the application requirements. This data can be particularly helpful for quality records and reducing capital spent on spare parts.
Ready to Reduce Downtime and Gain Efficiency
Gathering data on the plant floor and connecting it to the network is the wave of the future and the path to efficiency. Whether large or small, every company can benefit from more data and a properly networked facility. Data drives quality increases, lower maintenance related cost, and a smoother running facility. We can help you make your machines run more efficiently. To learn more, contact one of our Automation Specialists today!
Are you using data to make your operation more efficient? Let us know in the comments.