How to optimize industrial motor communications, Part 3, smart manufacturing
Three thought leaders offer advice on improving industrial motor communications and how doing so helps engineers, in this transcript from an August 2022 webcast. Part 3 covers motor-drive communications for smart manufacturing. Link to other parts.
- Understand how motor-drive communications help enable smart manufacturing.
- View archived webcast about optimizing motor drive communications prior to Aug. 4, 2023. A RCEP professional development hour is available.
Motor communication insights
- Motor-drive communications using industrial Ethernet protocols can help enable smart manufacturing.
- View an archived webcast about optimizing motor drive communications prior to Aug. 4, 2023, via the Control Engineering website; see link below.
Smart manufacturing architecture requires smarter communications between motors and drives among technologies used. See how ODVA, PI North America and EtherCAT Technology Group have helped motor-drive communications be a smarter part of smart manufacturing.
Michael Bowne, executive director from PI North America, Bob Trask the North American representative of EtherCAT Technology Group and Paul Brooks, ODVA distributed motion and time synchronization, SIG Member, explain how engineers can optimize industrial motor communications and how engineers can improve their operations while also being safe. This has been edited for clarity.
ODVA: Same switches, quality, TCP/IP stacks as enterprise network
Paul Brooks: First, most control networks market is that the most control markets are pretty highly segmented, that there are many different offerings. EtherNet/IP from ODVA uses standalone unmodified Ethernet. EtherNet/IP operates through the same functionality of switches as you would use in an enterprise network, the same types of quality of services you would normally use in an enterprise network. The same cabling, the same interfaces used for an enterprise network, and the same TCP/IP stacks.
There were challenges with rooted IP before the event of modern switches and model layer three switches. Now we see huge benefits to being committed to IP networking, particularly in information technology/operational technology (IT/OT) convergence, which is really what is enabling industry and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The takeaway is we have a highly diverse market, but each of the three big players represented here has unique approaches to solving this problem. That’s where the differentiation and innovation come from.
Motor-drive communications for smart manufacturing
How do motor drive communications contribute to smart manufacturing? In many ways it’s machines contribute to smart manufacturing rather than the motor drive combination. While the motor-drive combination enables the machine, it’s really the machine that is the heart of smart manufacturing. In smart manufacturing, there’s self-organizing production with reuse of modular machines, where a machine may have multiple different functions and can be placed in multiple different places within the production unit. The machine works out where it is, and from where it is understands the recipes it needs to do. Lighter factories [fewer workers] are something that all manufacturers are working toward to keep safety of the workforce [especially as fewer workers are available].
The easiest way is to drive down the overall cost of production, a key goal of the automation industry. Another goal, reacting to consumer demand, is the batch size of one, tailor-made output based on market needs. We’ve been doing this in the automotive industry for many years.
Smart manufacturing trends, digital twins
Batch size of one is starting to move into the consumer package goods industry and is particularly driven by things like additive manufacturing, 3D printing, etc. Then the other huge benefit of smart manufacturing, is the ability to benchmark different aspects of production against one another, across a wide fleet of components and equipment, to identify and understand weakest and strongest link, to reapply best practices to bring the weak link up to average and find and improve the next weak link.
In smart manufacturing, digital twins predict operations we expect. Digital twins bring in new disciplines to engineering. Data scientists are ideal at identifying anomalies in data; from those anomalies with data, data scientists work with subject matter experts to convert those anomalies into normal operation, better reporting, better system monitoring and better system monitoring across a fleet. Remote workers can take the expertise to the machine without having to relocate the expertise from where it happens to be. These are high-level capabilities of smart manufacturing.
The growth of the motor-drive communication interface contributes productivity, safety and sustainability. It helps run motors more efficiently to reduce the energy cost of production. It helps identify why motors fail.
Knowing when motors are going to fail drives down the cost of downtime and helps mitigate against the risk of unplanned downtime, the worst type of downtime. Advanced diagnostics gives maintenance personnel more information before they intervene in a system so that the intervention time is reduced, which contributes to increased productivity and increased operational effectiveness. The core of sustainability is increased productivity because that is going to reduce the overall cost to the environment, the cost to the world, of that manufacturing process.
Smart manufacturing with easier drive configuration
Michael Bowne: When we think of smart, we also mean ease of use. That means making it easy for people to get this stuff done, freeing up time to get down into those analytics, into predictive maintenance and do that stuff, instead only optimization.
The Tool-calling Interface is a Profinet feature similar to the whole Profidrive idea of making drive setup as possible to get them running.
The Tool-calling Interface integrates the commissioning tool from the drive vendor directly into the engineering of the PLC, for example, or the IBC or whatever is controlling your network. Therefore, end users can apply the familiar interface of the engineering tool for the PLC and can access all the features that come from the vendor’s commissioning tool, directly in the PLC setup.
This makes drives easier to set up, and easy to store all configuration data in one place (in the PLC project), and there’s no need to go back and forth between the commissioning tool and the PLC project. That’s handled via standardized application program interfaces (APIs). Many of the drive vendor manufacturers that have commissioning tools have written code that matches up to this API so their tools can be used in the PLC project.
Edge computing analytics using OPC UA, Profidrive
It’s smart to make it easy to get drives running. Information models help, particularly OPC UA companion specifications. OPC UA is taking an application profile like Profidrive a step further. As mentioned earlier, Profidrive is standardizing all parameters in one way so they always look the same when sent among a driver, a motor and a controller. Once a plant is running well, how can we analyze it and not spend a ridiculous amount of time preparing and sanitizing data for useful analysis?
This is where OPC UA plays a great role in providing powerful information models to make that as easy as possible. With IT/OT convergence, we’re doing things at the edge, with edge computing and want to get data from a drive. A companion specification for Profidrive maps drive parameters directly into OPC UA information models. For smaller manufacturers without a big IT/OT convergence, they still have coexistence of multiple protocols on the same wire, or they may want to do some basic analysis. Again, OPC UA plays a really good role here.
You don’t need a beefed-up edge computer, maybe just something like an IT/OT gateway that many companies sell. Again, the principles the same. You grab data from the Profinet side and map it to an OPC UA information model. What’s really nice is these information models are machine readable, they’re self-describing, they’re really easy to get all the nice semantics and metadata that helps to make it easy to set up and provide rich data to higher-level applications, whether in a hosted application or in a cloud situation. OPC UA is a nice way to move data from the shop floor to the top floor.
Self-organized detection of motor parameters
Bob Trask: Clearly things are headed toward a self-organized detection of motor parameters, flexible topologies while not sacrificing performance. Also popular are integrated motor drives that have the drive and motor in one package and even power and communications through one cable. Now, there’s also this interesting automatic customization, where OPC UA helps a machine detect a part next to it, the data needed, such as overall equipment effectiveness and usually line speed. This is a work in progress.
When setting up the drive or motor and drive, we want to be able to discover it. You can’t always detect it or its mechanical parameters, such as if it has a slide or a gear or pulley. Often you just have to input some things, such as when I turn the motor one revolution, here’s what it means linearly or rotationally in the end. Often that’s it for manual inputs because the rest of things are detectable. It’s important to have a consistent interface with motor and drive vendors, so that if you get a drive from vendor A and a drive from vendor B, you’re not having to relearn everything. And it’s real important to have the same diagnostic information about processes being set up, so one and flexible topology is important as well.
Having a variety of suppliers indicates how open the protocol is and its ease of implementation. If it’s very difficult, there won’t be many vendors for it. And how conformant? We’re talking about smart factories, but I have to be able to put a device in and have it work without a lot of effort and cost.
KEYWORDS: Motor-drive communications, EtherCAT, Profinet, EtherNet/IP
Are your smart manufacturing efforts enabled or hindered by communications used with your motors and drives?