Dario Dallefrate – Automation Engineer https://www.theautomationengineer.com A drives, motors and automation resource. Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:52:47 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.6 https://i0.wp.com/www.theautomationengineer.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/CT-favicon.png?fit=16%2C16&ssl=1 Dario Dallefrate – Automation Engineer https://www.theautomationengineer.com 32 32 101235857 How Drives & Motors Fit Into Industry 4.0 https://www.theautomationengineer.com/insight/how-drives-motors-fit-into-industry-4-0/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-drives-motors-fit-into-industry-4-0 https://www.theautomationengineer.com/insight/how-drives-motors-fit-into-industry-4-0/#comments Wed, 05 Oct 2016 13:47:07 +0000 https://www.theautomationengineer.com/?p=647 On the surface, Industry 4.0 can seem a somewhat nebulous concept. Dario Dallefrate, global product manager at Control Techniques, aims to shed some light. In our business we hear a lot about Industry 4.0 and how it will revolutionize, if it hasn’t already, our working practices. We see examples daily of how connected machines are […]

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On the surface, Industry 4.0 can seem a somewhat nebulous concept. Dario Dallefrate, global product manager at Control Techniques, aims to shed some light.

In our business we hear a lot about Industry 4.0 and how it will revolutionize, if it hasn’t already, our working practices. We see examples daily of how connected machines are allowing factory owners to produce more, using less energy, much quicker than they could before.

But how are they doing this, and how do drives and motors fit into the equation?

To answer that, it’s important to understand that, at its heart, Industry 4.0 is data. The real value comes from taking this data and aggregating, analysing, sharing and using it to enhance and automate decision making processes on a large scale.

Clearly we can look at sensors and other devices which collect feedback from a process, but crucial to all of this is the subsequent effect this data has on drives, motors and controllers.

Modern variable speed drives can harness vast amounts of information by acting as a hub for data gathering. This allows predictive maintenance and machine optimisation, while also providing data which can be analysed to improve the design of future machines. Drives with integrated intelligence are in a unique position within a control system.

We know, for example, that electric motors consume an estimated 70% of all electricity used in industry. It would clearly be useful, therefore, if we were able to measure accurately the motor’s consumption in real-time using data provided by the drive. That same data can then be used to boost or enhance machine performance as well as increasing throughput.

drives and motors in industry

Of course, in order to communicate effectively, there needs to be certain standardized control protocols. Ideally, this would mean one protocol.

This is where standard Ethernet comes in

It offers seamless integration with other equipment to share process data anytime, anywhere. Not only that; using standard Ethernet ensures other machine control protocols like Profinet, Ethernet/IP or Modbus TCP/IP can communicate properly.

Indeed, standard Ethernet is pivotal to collect and share data seamlessly within the whole distributed factory. It makes sense then that drives with integrated Ethernet are the preferred option for Industry 4.0 applications.

It’s no secret that production systems are becoming more and more heterogeneous. End-users have always used different products from different vendors to meet their needs, making standardised communication vital to ensure efficient operation.

Any smart devices within a factory need to be able to share data with operators and planners via Ethernet, but they also need to keep exchanging data with existing products. Therefore they need to support popular legacy fieldbuses, as well as fieldbuses based on standard Ethernet.

The importance of data visualisation is also crucial. Big data – i.e. the wealth of information collected from devices within a network – means there is an increased need to visualise information in a user-friendly way.

Smartphones, tablets, even smart TVs are becoming more and more popular in industrial applications as HMI (human machine interface) devices.  Web-based technologies are vital to ensure the quick accessing of data, therefore smart automation devices with integrated web HMI capability should be preferred for Industry 4.0 applications.

indutry 4.0 applications

It’s important to note too that different users will have different requirements and will experience different benefits. Take, for example, the automotive component manufacturer. A typical application could be a test rig, monitoring prototype brake pads at the R&D stage. In this example, Industry 4.0 enabled equipment provides the capability to collect and analyse data for quality and certification testing, endurance, and production methods. This data can then be shared with any department, at any stage of the process, to drive quality improvements.

In more depth, smart devices, like electric drives, collect the data provided by the test rig in real time and share it with other systems. Standard Ethernet allows the data to be saved in company cloud systems where it can be used later by other departments during the product lifecycle. The system’s intuitive HMIs allow any user, from any department, to tailor the types and amount of data which they receive.

You can see from this example that Industry 4.0 is the keys to the kingdom, so to speak. Where previously specific data will only have been accessible to the operator directly involved in its collection, now it can be shared anywhere in real time. The possibilities here, and the potential to drive improvements, are immense.

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Focus On: The Machine Safety Market https://www.theautomationengineer.com/insight/focus-on-the-machine-safety-market/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=focus-on-the-machine-safety-market https://www.theautomationengineer.com/insight/focus-on-the-machine-safety-market/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 14:39:09 +0000 https://www.theautomationengineer.com/?p=591 Dario Dallefrate, Safety Product Manager at Control Techniques, gives an overview of the machine safety market and the trend towards increasing safety technologies for original equipment manufacturers. Machine safety legislation and safety levels The Factory Act of 1844 was a landmark in industrial safety for British factory workers. Burgeoning industry and increased market competition had […]

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Dario Dallefrate, Safety Product Manager at Control Techniques, gives an overview of the machine safety market and the trend towards increasing safety technologies for original equipment manufacturers.

Machine safety legislation and safety levels

The Factory Act of 1844 was a landmark in industrial safety for British factory workers. Burgeoning industry and increased market competition had not been conducive to sufficient safety self-regulation by factory magnates. Rising casualties demanded action and the act of 1844, which extended to all textile factories, prohibited the cleaning of machines in motion and required secure fencing around significant moving apparatus.

From 1844 to today, health and safety legislation throughout most industrialised nations around the world rightfully protects workers and machinery is declared to meet associated safety standards and levels, of which Safety Integrity Level (SIL) and Performance Level (PL) are the most highly regarded. Both SIL and PL aim to gauge probability of dangerous failure, normally measured in probability of dangerous failure per hour (FPH).

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard 61508 defines the four Safety Integrity Levels – the relative levels of risk reduction provided by a particular system – with SIL 4 as the most dependable and SIL 1 the least. Meanwhile, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and its standard 13849 references Performance Levels (PL), significant for their citation within the European Union’s Machinery Directive and their replacement of the previous EN 954 safety level descriptions.

While SIL and PL levels are similar in many ways, using slightly varying algorithms to achieve their calculations, a difference is that SIL is specifically used to classify electric, electronic and programmable safety devices like electric drives, whereas PL has typically been associated with a wider range of technology types, including  hydraulics, pneumatics and electric technologies

Value in productivity for today’s safety market

The machine safety market, currently worth $2.4bn, is reportedly growing at 10% per year. It is largely centred around machinery automation as well as the metals, automotive and food & beverage industries. While safety legislation has increased, the market has also grown as a result of demand for new safety technologies which reduce machine downtime and therefore increase overall productivity.

In basic terms, increased productivity is achieved by safety devices which typically slow or stop a machine when required, for example during maintenance or to clear obstructions, as opposed to a complete power shutdown. Not only does a power shut-down slow the manufacturing process, thus reducing productivity, but it can also require maintenance to create a new production set-up. Furthermore, shutting off the power has the potential to damage the product – not to mention the capacity to damage the machine itself as a result of sudden power down.

machine safety market

A further factor towards matching safety and productivity is speed of configuration. OEMs are increasingly creating more flexible machines with safety features which allow faster set-up and therefore increased productivity. Fast configuration becomes increasingly important if product types in manufacture are regularly changed on a given machine.

 

Machine safety technology

Let’s now take a look at the safety technologies which are commonly deployed today, together with their advantages and disadvantages.

Safety relays

Safety relays act as simple on/off switches and therefore perform only a single function in a safety system, for example isolating an actuator which is responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism or part of a system.

Relays are still the most common safety product in the market place. The advantage of relays is that they are individually inexpensive plus they have a strong legacy and are ubiquitous throughout industry, meaning that they are relatively easy to supply and replace. Relays can also be the most cost effective solution; they are well suited for controlling a limited number of safety devices where the use of a safety controller for some applications can be unnecessary to requirements.

The primary drawback of relay-based safety is a result of its wired system. This solution reduces flexibility in upgrade or change of components as a result of greater reliance on wire connections, meaning increased time and difficulty for required changes.

Drive-based solutions

The primary advantages of drive-based solutions – safety controllers integrated within a variable speed drive – are twofold: they reduce the number of components and wiring compared to safety relays and they offer a smaller machine footprint, especially compared to centralised/PLC-based systems. Specifically regarding the latter, drives are commonly located in close proximity to motors – the primary source of danger – so they can react quicker than PLC-based systems. As the reaction time is faster, safety barriers or other sensors can be mounted closer to the dangerous areas, therefore making for a smaller machine overall. Enabling closer safe access to dangerous areas also means potentially less movement required for an operator to and from their machine, which can result in a faster process and therefore increased throughput.

The intelligence now available in drive-based safety systems also means that safety devices such as light curtains can be connected directly to the drive. Previously, multiple safety relays and monitoring devices would have been required, especially for servo/motion-based applications. The advantages of the drive-based system and subsequent reduction in components and wiring are numerous: reduced cost, reduced complexity in machine design and reduced footprint.

In addition to simplified machine design, machine commissioning time can also be saved; drive-based safety functions can be pre-tested instead of relying on physical tests with relays, which would be required on the actual machine. Similarly, drive-based safety also makes the implementation of some machine operations faster and easier as these modes can be software programmed rather than hardwired.

Reduced component count also means lower maintenance requirements. Furthermore, on certain complex safety systems, higher integrity safety level components may be required to compensate for the failure potential of a large number of relays and monitors which constitute a complex safety system. A drive-based system can remove this need, therefore potentially further reducing costs.

Speed and ease of maintenance is also improved using a drive-based safety system thanks to the ability to collate and manage data. If a safety component is operated, for example to impede a machine’s throughput, the system can record this data to enable swift maintenance and potential minimisation of the issue in future.

drive based safety system

Centralised controllers

Centralised controllers, including safety PLCs, share many of the same benefits of drive-based safety systems. Safety controllers however have greater ‘visibility’ over the complete machine and so therefore can be more flexible in their actions and configuration, whereas a drive generally has visibility over a specific area or components of the machine. There’s greater possibility for adding extra safety functionality components with a PLC and as all components within a safety system are likely to share the same programming platform, expansion or reconfiguration of the system could be faster, easier and more cost effective.

Disadvantages can include a larger machine build as the addition of a machine controller brings its own footprint, plus extra cost for the safety controller or PLC. Neither can the PLC generally achieve the close proximity to the motor, where a more localised drive-based system provides advantages in safety and productivity as previously described.

Safety market summary

The market trend is moving increasingly towards ‘smart’ devices – drives and controllers – rather than relay-based safety technology. Drive and centralised controller safety devices share a roughly equal market share but drive-based control is growing at a faster rate. Market growth towards high technology safety is also supported by a perception of the association between high quality machines and high level safety standards. This serves as a key differentiator for OEMs who have adopted the safety technology to achieve a sufficiently high SIL or PL level, and a potential market barrier for those that don’t.

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