Supercharge Legacy Manufacturing Equipment
Manufacturing equipment lasts a long time, I have been in plants that had equipment from the 40s, 50s, and 60s and those machines are still running strong.
A lot of these machines have no electronics or if they do they are very simple. Therefore, our preferred solution of connecting directly to the PLC to collect data won’t work.
So manufacturers that want to collect real-time data and performance information can’t really do much until these machines are replaced, right?
Wrong. You don’t need new machines to get better data
Don’t fall prey to the classic narrative that manufacturers can only be as sophisticated as their oldest machines. It’s NOT TRUE.
However, adding sensors to legacy equipment poses a lot of challenges.
Many manufacturing companies don’t want Wi-Fi or Ethernet to run into the plant. Often they don’t want it for security reasons.
This is a classic problem we have been looking at since founding SensrTrx and I have personally evaluated 100s of different solutions to help solve this very specific challenge.
So the question is: “How can I track the availability, efficiency, and performance of this old equipment”?
The best solution we found so far is Banner Engineering’s wireless sensors and gateways. Here’s why:
1. Many of the sensors can be battery operated
2. The sensors communicate with a gateway via RF
3. Wire replacement and counter radios can connect with almost any sensor or I/O point
Great. How do I do this?
Let’s talk about this in the context of a recent implementation of SensrTrx.
They did not have Wi-Fi or Ethernet in the plant and they did not want to install it. Their machines are older, 15+ years, and we could not tie into the PLCs.
The customer wanted to measure the number of rotations of a spool of wire as it unrolled and was fed into the machine.
The installation was fast and easy, the DXM 100 Gateway was installed in a closet and connected to Ethernet.
We don’t have to worry about range or passing through walls as you do with Bluetooth because the range of the node is measured in miles not feet.
The spools are in a part of the machine that does not have power, so the battery-powered radios made the installation easier.
SensrTrx supports the DXM protocols out of the box and it took less than 10 minutes to configure.
Our engineers paired the part count nodes with the gateway and the customer’s maintenance team installed them on the machines.
The nodes counted the number of cycles on the machines, sent them to the IoT Edge platform which in turn sent the part count to SensrTrx.
From this one data point per machine, SensrTrx is able to detect downtime, track cycle times, and performance of the machines.
No new machines, significantly better data
In less than one day, this customer was able to supercharge 7 different legacy machines and start getting production data to manage and improve their processes.
These part count radios are not the only option. Another option to light up legacy manufacturing equipment (literally) is the wireless tower lights Banner created.
They are designed to work with the DXM Gateway and replace your existing tower lights. The new lights are configured to transmit their color and status codes to the gateway which can be used to count cycles and track downtime.
Banner also has photo eyes, temperature, and vibration sensors just about everything you would need to collect data on your equipment.
Just because the equipment is simple – or old – doesn’t mean you can’t make it smart by using the Banner sensors and an easy-to-use technology like SensrTrx.
Ask someone how to make SensrTrx Manufacturing Productivity work for you. Start getting visibility into your plant.
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SensrTrx Manufacturing Productivity Software
SensrTrx is manufacturing productivity and analytics software that provides real-time visibility on the factory floor to help reduce downtime, improve on-time delivery, and increase profitability of manufacturing companies
About the Author
Bryan Sapot is a lifelong entrepreneur, speaker, CEO, and founder of SensrTrx. With more than 24 years of experience in manufacturing technology, Bryan is known for his deep manufacturing industry insights.
Throughout his career, he’s built products and started companies that leveraged technology to solve problems to make the lives of manufacturers easier. Follow Bryan on LinkedIn here.