Connecting industrial robotics with IIoT on the factory floor

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) presents enormous productivity potential for manufacturers, but the true benefits can be difficult to realize for companies trying to be more efficient on the plant floor.

01/09/2018


The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) presents enormous productivity potential for manufacturers, but the true benefits can be difficult to realize. Industrial robotics inherently promote connectivity and are proving to be a great starting point for broader IIoT initiatives.

Industrial robots are increasingly integrated with the IIoT in manufacturing facilities across the world. Some of the world's largest manufacturers have already seen big profits, but most manufacturers are just starting to implement robotic connectivity in their facilities.

General Motors (GM) was one of the first to invest in robotic connectivity and establish a framework for success. GM has over 7,500 connected robots in their facilities with the goal of collecting real-time data on robotic performance, which helps productivity by avoiding unnecessary downtime. They're able to see when a robot needs maintenance and proactively address performance issues before the entire assembly line shuts down. In the future, though, they plan to adjust robotic accuracy and repeatability in real time to improve product quality.

Image courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaThe state of robotic connectivity in today's factories

A recent panel of experts weighed in on today's robotic connectivity technology in an RIA webinar. One of the main conclusions reached was most businesses leveraging industrial robotics technology are now highly interested in mining more data from these robots. Typically, robots feature an Ethernet or wifi connection.

Most manufacturers want their robots to connect to the cloud with no programmable logic controller (PLC) in the middle for easier data collection and mining. When robot data is brought into the cloud, it can more cleanly be brought into plant production networks or local ERP systems for process analysis. In general, we're in the early stages of connected robot technology, but the desire for greater connectivity exists. For many facilities, it simply comes down to making the investment at the right time. 

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



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