Palm-size Embedded Computer Provides Cost-effective Preventive Maintenance for Industrial Band Saws
Based on the concept of Industry 4.0, intelligent factories should not only strive for manufacturing technology innovation but also focus on machine monitoring and preventive maintenance, which is an important part of optimizing the production process. Unlike traditional periodical maintenance or emergency break-down repair, preventive maintenance can detect and troubleshoot hidden faults in advance. Take the metal-cutting band saw as an example; equipment manufacturers can collect and analyze data to predict when, after thousands of cutting operations, saw blades or other components will wear out. Meanwhile, plant managers do not have to urgently call their suppliers to arrange for repairs on damaged machines, thus reducing equipment downtime and increasing overall plant productivity while also improving the quality of finished goods.
A preventive maintenance system can make use of a fanless computer with installed data acquisition card to collect equipment data. However, machine control cabinets have very restricted space for accommodating extra hardware, and complex wiring within the cabinet can affect the appearance while increasing the difficulty of maintenance and management. For this type of space-limited machinery, Advantech specifically designed a palm-size data acquisition (DAQ) computer that allows equipment manufacturers to easily integrate their preventive maintenance systems into machines. At the same time Advantech offers customized services for users, helping them to optimize the accuracy of data acquisition and to create a high-end product image through professional industrial design, thus enhancing their market competitiveness.
A precision mechanical and electrical technology company in Taiwan that provides industrial band saws for a variety of metal processes is a leading global equipment manufacturer. Founded four decades ago, it had produced more than 100 kinds of cutting systems. Its products had been sold in more than 80 countries and obtained recognition and adoption by many well-known enterprises such as Siemens, Schneider Electric, and Boeing. Interested in taking advantage of the benefits of Industry 4.0, the company was actively investing in the development of innovative applications to increase the value of its products. Two of the new features it wanted to introduce in its band saws were machine monitoring and preventive maintenance.
The company originally intended to use US-sourced USB data acquisition hardware in the initial development phase. After careful evaluation, it realized that the high component cost would negate any possible competitive advantage the new functions might provide. And using a computer-plus-data-acquisition-card proved less than practical because it took up considerable space, and added complex wiring. The company decided to look for a better solution.
To fulfill the predictive maintenance requirements, certain functions were specified, such as multi-channel analog I/O with fast sampling for acquiring machine information, multi-channel digital I/O for machine control, and a network port for uploading data to the backend management system. Industrial metal band saws are typically used in harsh environments—environments with abrasive dust, with vibration and knocks, with electrical noise that occurs when the drive motor kicks on and off. The solution would have to deliver accurate information in spite of these challenges.
Advantech's MIC-1810 is the world's first embedded data acquisition computer module with signal conditioning and processing transducer integrated into a PC-based control platform. Installing it in a band saw control cabinet and connecting current sensor and RTD (resistance temperature detector) sensor enables equipment manufacturers to accurately acquire data that can be used for machine modeling that shows values for components that need to be maintained or replaced. Predictive maintenance becomes a reality.
In order to make MIC-1810 lean and compact, Advantech downsized and refined the traditional embedded computer. The MIC-1810 was made palm-size by removing some unnecessary system functions and adopting a fanless design. The built-in terminal block enables direct connection with the sensor signal line, which saves space and eliminates some wiring. The adopted DIN-rail mounting makes it compatible in the distribution boxes or control cabinets of all kinds of machines. Anti-vibration and anti-dirt features maintain system stability even in harsh environments.
Moreover, MIC-1810 with multiple I/O channels acquires electrical current and temperature signals for real-time monitoring through analog input channels; it controls workpiece motion via digital input and output channels, and uploads machine information to the Cloud via the Ethernet port for remote monitoring.
Regarding the software, the WebAccess/MCM bundled with MIC-1810 is both a software development tool and a browser-based machine monitoring system that allows users to save software licensing fees and engineers to design a preventive maintenance system through simple settings without programming. The software provides a number of equipment-monitoring functions to speed up the completion of system design, such as: directly converting collected signals to actual physical quantities, saving users time in creating a mapping table; filtering noise by providing Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) to make signal analysis simpler; and using an oscilloscope to instantly display the signal waveform so as to confirm that a device is working properly. WebAccess/MCM makes use of machine data collected in the Cloud to produce visual displays for clear, easy management.
- MIC-1810: Data Acquisition Computer with Intel Core i3-3217UE processor, 8-ch current input and 4-ch RTD
- WebAccess/MCM: Browser-based Machine Condition Monitoring System
The industrial band saw manufacturer in this project remains committed to technological advancement and process innovation. Over the years, the company has not only won Taiwan's Golden Pin Design Award but has also been rated top brand first place for cutting services by the US Steel Center. Accordingly, it has relatively high requirements for the components used inside its machines in order to maintain its best-brand image and corporate reputation. The cost-effective MIC-1810 fully met this customer’s needs, both for performance and appearance.
Also, Advantech offered customized services that addressed signal acquisition interference problems and additionally designed a dedicated logo for the customer, giving its metal band saw machine monitoring and preventive maintenance features that made it a high value-added product that is now competing successfully on the world market.