Intelligent drive in the era of Industry 4.0

- Aug 13, 2018 -

Intelligent drive in the era of Industry 4.0


With the rapid growth of Industry 4.0 applications, machine builders are under pressure to use fewer people to provide shorter development times for advanced machines. The need to provide the necessary information for operational decision making with real-time data is growing. The keyword associated with Industry 4.0 is connectivity (connections between all participants in the production process), even in factories that have not yet applied Industry 4.0. It is important that components or systems be at least compatible with the requirements of Industry 4.0 and that they can connect and communicate with internal and external networks.

Although it is easy to implement with new components, it is not realistic to replace all existing systems to ensure compatibility. This has led to the development of a variety of devices that provide at least a basic connection to an Industrial 4.0 system without affecting the automation logic. The development of the drive allows manufacturers to configure various functions through built-in technology that eliminates the need for external PLCs, reflecting the changes made to previous generation drives that offer limited functionality.

No external PLC required

Modern drive systems have been sufficiently intelligent to perform positional displacement and speed control. The implementation of these features is as simple as viewing an email via a mobile phone. Another expectation that Industry 4.0 brings is that the drive system can capture data on machine functionality and performance, then configure the data and present it to the outside world.

Advanced drive manufacturers can configure a variety of features through built-in technology that eliminates the need for external programmable logic controllers (PLCs). For example, the latest servo drives include the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61131-3 programmable controller operating system. This reflects the changes made to the previous generation of drivers that provided limited functionality.

It takes some time to fully understand the implications of these advancements in the drive, but today's smart drives have the ability to solve real-time control challenges, which is a major aspect of Industry 4.0. The PLC is removed and the direct access to the drive eliminates time intervals and optimizes cycle time and product consistency.

Keep in sync

Even if a drive system does contain a certain problem-solving tool or function block, it still faces the challenge of synchronizing multiple motions on one machine. In the case where the bus system used is uncertain, the solution that can be used is to allow the drives to communicate without having to return to the central control system. This is where the deterministic bus system such as SERCOS III is self-contained. A deterministic system is not a necessary prerequisite for the application of Industry 4.0. The drive can store real-time data and send it to the upstream system in a non-deterministic manner.

Now that there are a variety of advanced tools available in the drive, it is important to choose the right tool. The goal should be to enable machine builder programmers without specific experience to access and use these features. It is recommended to use tested and tested PLC function blocks that can be used with PLCs under the IEC 61131-3 standard and can even be combined with ladder logic programming.

There are now a wide variety of function blocks available that can be selected for each application. What they can do is from collecting location information on the conveyor belt, winding machine control to closed loop registration control, and even creating complete motion trajectories for cross cutters and cross sealers.

Create an HMI

Human Machine Interface (HMI) is another key component of Industry 4.0. In the past, creating interfaces for machines and operators required the intervention of a central PLC and bus system for sending critical machine setup information and variables to the drive. Diagnostic and machine status information is re-imported into the PLC before being displayed on the HMI.

While modern bus systems can do this, it can require a lot of programming work and can be unnecessary when the drive system contains all the required information. To solve this problem, many drive systems contain all the tools needed to create an HMI. In some cases, the central PLC may not be needed because the drive can use a full range of inputs and outputs, which were previously connected to the PLC.

The key factor that must be controlled is the time required to set up and debug the machine. Smart drives now offer a number of tools that reduce startup time through optimized axis motion and process synchronization.

These quick-start tools are designed to move the drive in the early stages of machine commissioning, even when the machine control software has not yet been installed in the system. The result is a quick and easy test of the machine's mechanical performance using only basic IT tools such as mobile phones or tablets.

Helps maintain

Intelligent drive systems can participate in proactive maintenance strategies as they are delivered with a complete set of key tools that can perform critical predictive maintenance functions, minimizing additional programming effort. This software can be set to continuously monitor real-time machine performance status and process status. This includes waveform analysis by analyzing temperature changes, as well as checking for backlash, increased friction, or process overload.

If a fault condition occurs, a code is generated and sent to the HMI. If you find a critical issue that requires the machine to stop running, you can make decisions within the drive to minimize the risk of production loss and machine damage.

Industry 4.0 provides enhanced processing power and improved functionality for smart drives. This brings more opportunities for manufacturing companies to optimize programming, production and maintenance. Because in many cases the PLC requirements are reduced or even no longer needed, more advanced machines can be created in less time.


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