February 12, 2020
| Jeff DeAngelis
Managing Director, Industrial & Healthcare Business Unit, Maxim Integrated
Momentum toward industrial convergence is building as many companies strive to create intelligent manufacturing facilities. Achieving industrial convergence calls for real-time decision-making at the edge of the manufacturing line. This is where equipment can be monitored and actions taken to generate enhancements in manufacturing throughput and efficiency and to reduce operational costs.
A new generation of equipment that is nimble, has built-in intelligence, and can dynamically react to its environment is needed to realize this industrial internet of things (IIoT) capability. If we go down to the semiconductor level, we recognize that a whole new class of products is needed to enable better performance and flexibility. This new class of technology will rely on:
Thanks to industrial automation technologies, robots, such as these shown inside a car factory, take an active role in bringing greater efficiency to the manufacturing process.
Let's take a closer look at each of these three areas.
As more intelligent bi-directional sensors replace their unidirectional counterparts inside factory equipment, the manufacturing facilities will be better equipped to adapt to product changes and to avoid unexpected downtime. IO-Link® technology is turning traditional sensors into intelligent sensors by enabling them to become interchangeable via a common physical interface that uses a protocol stack and an IO Device Description file to allow a configurable sensor port. With IO-Link sensors, an industrial controls engineer gains visibility and control all the way to the edge of the factory floor.
In the manufacturing world, it's a given that product demands will change; for example, new specs will emerge or new variations will need to be introduced. What happens if new IOs need to be implemented to accommodate these changes…but they're not available? For example, consider a scenario where factory automation equipment now requires two analog output channels, one analog input channel, and two digital output channels in order to raise productivity. However, the control system only has 16 channels of digital inputs available plus one expansion slot left in the programmable logic controller (PLC) rack. Imagine if a single 8-channel software-configurable Universal IO card was available to accommodate this change. This would replace the need to buy a 4- to 8-slot PLC rack plus a new 8-channel digital output card, 8-channel analog input card, and 8-channel analog output card.
Manufacturing-based artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm platforms can deliver higher levels of diagnostic capabilities for real-time, edge-based decision making. As sensors collect a wealth of manufacturing equipment health and status information, algorithms can provide the predictive analytics that result in useful insights. Today's semiconductors are providing status flags on conditions such as overvoltage, short circuits, and over temperature. The next step is to tap into intelligent sensors, software-configurable IOs, and AI algorithms to provide a sequencing of events that enable an operator to identify the root cause of an equipment failure.
Clearly, the automation industry is boldly marching toward its next evolution. What I've discussed in this blog post are just the highlights. At this year's embedded world Conference, I'll talk more about the topic of industrial convergence. Mark your calendars for 10a.m. to 10:30a.m. on Wednesday, February 26, for "How Ultra-Small Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) Enable Intelligence at the Edge."
Speaking of embedded world, Maxim has a full slate of demos and talks at the show, February 25 to February 27 in Nuremberg, Germany. In the industrial area of our booth (#4A-606), we'll have demos of our Go-IO IIoT reference design, which provides multiple software-defined IOs in less than 1 cubic inch, and our IO-Link reference designs for master and smart sensor applications.
Also at the show, Maxim will have demos of Essential Analog, automotive, healthcare, security, and IoT solutions. And there are two other scheduled speakers during the conference: Ole Dreessen, principal member of the technical staff, Field Applications, will lead the AES Cryptosystem Key Extraction on Standard µC and Countermeasures Workshop from 9:30am. to 12:30p.m. on Thursday, February 27, at embedded world Conference; and Szukang Hsien, executive business manager, Automotive Business Unit, will speak on "Matrix Local Dimming LED Driver for Local Dimming Automotive Displays" from 9a.m. to 9:20a.m. on Thursday, February 27, at the electronic display Conference.
See the full list of Maxim embedded world demos, book a private meeting with our tech experts, and check out details (and register) for a board giveaway from our embedded world page. Hope to see you at the show!