Many manufacturing analytics products have been bundled (and oversold) as a piece of a bigger ERP or plant management system like SCADA. This usually means a lot of customization, long implementation times, additional hardware, and often times, special training or new staff requirements.
We’ve built a purpose-driven SaaS application designed specifically to keep costs down while providing invaluable analytics.
Overall implementation in a plant monitoring 20 machines, for instance, can take as little as 3 weeks. The factors that influence this timeline are based on the type of machine, the complexity of the production process and whether you’re tracking many custom metrics beyond availability and performance. As part of the setup and implementation, we’ll provide you with many of the dashboards you care about and easy-to-understand training so you can create them yourself.
We’ve put together this quick post to help you understand the different types of sensor data and connectivity available to you using the SensrTrx application.
PLC, as Easy as 1-2-3
The most common SensrTrx implementation is direct to the PLC; most machines from the past 15 to 20 years have them. From these devices, SensrTrx can gather data from 100+ different protocols and begin tracking essential metrics like downtime by reason, cycle times, etc. in real-time.
In some cases, if a machine lacks connectivity, we’ll pull data directly from internal sensors and work hands-on with your IT to establish a secure network connection. A simple wireless device can send data directly to the SensrTrx Gateway.
Retrofit your Legacy Machines Instead of Starting New
Many manufacturers are running on older machines that either do not have a PLC or have embedded sensors but no connectivity. These legacy machines are often critical to at least one part of the manufacturing process, maybe it’s that monster lathe built in the ’60s, “Ol’ Faithful”.
In this case, inexpensive hardware can easily be retrofitted to track cycle times and downtime or a simple device can be installed to read and transmit internal sensors.
We can also leverage products from Banner Engineering who produce wireless devices with sensors to count machine cycles through vibration and other data. It’s the closest thing to a peel-and-stick sensor on the market, can cost around $500, and will begin reporting in seconds.
Through calculations on machine cycles, we can determine downtime, with manually added downtime reasons, old machines can begin to provide valuable metrics on their performance and availability.
That data can be wirelessly transmitted to the SensrTrx application and within a few hours, Ol’ Faithful can be happily singing machine analytics with the rest of the line.
SensrTrx Talks to Complex PC-based Machine Controllers (So You Don’t Have To)
One popular CNC machine tool builder advertises that its customers have read/write access to 6,000 data points. Another boasts that its machinery contains up to 60 embedded sensors, able to monitor everything from the spindle temperature to how much power is being drawn on the axis motors.
Like the chatty Cathy in the buffet line, these complex machine tools use a PC-based control spewing thousands of data points from the many different embedded sensors monitoring pressure, temperature, for different parts of the machine (spindle speed anyone?). In other words, way too much information for a plant-level operational dashboard.
Since most of that is overkill for what you need to do, we’ll show you only the data you need and spare yourself the custom development you’d require to get it yourself.
Don’t Forget Your Operator Data!
When you’re able to view downtime and performance by line, shift, and operator, for instance, machine and sensor data within the right context will provide you deep insights into your overall plant’s performance.
To add to this, we also set-up and configure manual input from your operators and users into the application. This will allow your people to add data about downtime reasons or quality commentary (e.g. good product vs. bad product). We’re one of the few manufacturing analytics applications offering this so we can provide you with deep visibility and a more holistic view of the plant floor than you have now.
Interested in learning more? Reach out to us and schedule a custom demo here.