The Industrial Internet Consortium has announced results for the Smart Manufacturing Connectivity for Brown-field Sensors Testbed. IIC-member participants TE Connectivity and SAP SE, with supporting participants OPC Foundation and ifm, developed a solution that enables operators of decades old manufacturing facilities (brown-fields) to connect sensors to an IT system using existing infrastructure without affecting real-time operations.
“In discrete manufacturing, the real-time manufacturing sub-systems are generally managed by Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) that make use of data provided by various sensors,” said Dr. Michael Hilgner, Manager Consortia and Standards, TE Connectivity. “However, PLCs in most brown-field facilities are outdated and can’t handle more work beyond the original automation task such as processing a high volume of data required for added value services. So we replaced the existing I/O module with a Y-Gateway to pull sensor data from real-time control systems and sent it directly to IT systems via an additional channel.”
“Being able to exchange information between the shop floor and IT systems offers many benefits to manufacturers, including monitoring, controlling and simulating manufacturing processes,” said Erich Clauer, Vice President, Industry Standards & Open Source, SAP. “Advanced analytics helps to optimize processes, minimize consumption and reduce downtime. In particular, machine learning algorithms require a high volume of data to reduce the teaching time and to generate reliable models.”
• The testbed substitutes the I/O module that connects sensors to PLCs in real-time automation systems with a Y-Gateway which re-uses the existing physical cabling
• The Y-Gateway supports the easy integration with IT systems by using a consistent OPC UA data model for IO-Link sensors which is currently being standardized by a joint working group of the IO-Link Community and the OPC Foundation.
• Data is transferred to the enterprise IT over OPC UA and further processed in either Manufacturing Data Objects in SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII) or SAP Cloud Platform.
The testbed leads have published their results in an in-depth paper that can be downloaded at Smart Manufacturing Connectivity for Brown-field Sensors Testbed – Initial Deployment – Report after Completion of Phase I.