IIoT and robotics on the plant floor

Industrial robots are perfectly positioned to be equipped with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices as they are at the heart of the production process and can take measurements and record data about their own performance as well as overall throughput and a number of other things.
By Robotic Industries Association (RIA) October 19, 2017

Image courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaThe Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is poised to revolutionize manufacturing. The concept refers to the ability of different devices to be connected to each other and to a centralized system of one form or another. This enables many different things. In theory, IIoT-connected devices can do anything from provide in-depth data, optimize operations, or teach a machine how to optimize its own performance without stopping production. 

IIoT and the role of robotics

Industrial robots are perfectly positioned to be equipped with IIoT devices as they are at the heart of the production process. Additionally, robots are inherently connected, when compared to manual processes. It’s because of their connectivity and proximity to production processes can take measurements and record data about their own performance as well as overall throughput and a number of other things. They provide a perfect opportunity for the deployment of IIoT initiatives.

IIoT and robotics in the workplace today

IIoT may seem more fictional than real, but there are a few trailblazers in the manufacturing sector that are beginning to see the true benefits of doubling down on IIoT initiatives. General Motors (GM) is one of these trailblazers.

In 2014, they teamed up with Fanuc and Cisco to launch their zero down time (ZDT) solution. The goal was to build a connected network of robots for painting, dispensing and welding that would be smart enough to know when they needed maintenance so that they wouldn’t break down. As the technology evolves, the system will transform into more of an in-process adaptive tool, where robots can monitor and automatically adjust their own performance for maximum productivity. Nearly 8,500 connected robots later, with more being implemented and connected to the cloud every day, the program has been a huge success. GM has been able to avoid over 100 significant unscheduled downtimes since the program began. Considering 60 seconds of downtime can cost them as much as $20,000, those savings are quite significant.

IIoT is just beginning to take hold in some of the largest, most automated factories in the world. Robots are playing a crucial role in this automation. Their proximity to production processes and inherent connectivity have made them an important part of integrating IIoT concepts from the ground up. 

This article originally appeared on the Robotics Online Blog. Robotic Industries Association (RIA) is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). A3 is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.