As industrial machines become more sophisticated and connected, the need for ‘smart engineering’ and detailed application knowledge continues to grow to increase productivity and safety, lower risk and reduce costs of compliance.
Peter Tomazic, senior solution consultant with the Global Solutions team at Rockwell Automation has more than 25 years experience in ‘thinking outside the square’ to successfully solve customers’ unique challenges, whether it involves engineering for cranes, pulp and paper machinery, process lines, mining applications, printing presses and the list goes on.
He explains that while providing the hardware is only 30-40 percent of the solution, it is the domain knowledge on the application and how to apply the engineering that really makes the difference.
“Anyone can go and buy hardware and try to put it together but it is the application knowledge of how to engineer the hardware that really adds value to our customers operations.
“As part of the Global Solutions team at Rockwell Automation, we leverage our in depth technical knowledge and work with customers to understand their unique challenges and goals. We can then design, manufacture and commission a solution to meet their production and business objectives,” says Mr Tomazic.
Advances in technologies such as the Industrial Internet of Things, are enabling machines to get smarter and meet endusers networking, integration, diagnostics and intelligence demands. Motors and drives are gaining improved integration and connectivity, resulting in increased productivity, safety and asset management.
“Ethernet communications is now an important part of any application that involves drives because it provides full access to all the diagnostics within the drives, including drive parameters, status and additional features such as automatic device configuration,” explains Mr Tomazic.
Automatic Device Configuration is a feature that increases uptime by allowing the Logix controller to automatically detect a replaced drive and download all configuration parameters, eliminating the need for manual reconfiguration.
While supplying the drives is the easy part, applying the correct engineering is critical for the system to run safely and effectively. For example, if a drive on a crane has not been selected or engineered correctly the crane could drop its load resulting in safety and productivity risks.
Similarly, if a drive on a process line is not sized or engineered appropriately, the process will not run effectively. Mr Tomazic and his team at Rockwell Automation leverage many years of experience to apply this type of smart engineering and help customers improve system performance, reduce risk and gain operation efficiencies.
Complying with safety
Complying with safety standards plays an important role in reducing the risk of injuries and improving productivity. Implementing the most appropriate standards and technologies also provide major improvements in manufacturing productivity, efficiency and the morale of personnel. However, understanding the current risk level of one machine or an entire plant floor is a challenging task.
“Safeguarding a machine or entire plant requires a detailed safety assessment to be undertaken. Following the findings of the safety assessment we can then design a solution that meets the operational requirements of the plant or machine and also address any safety risks,” says Mr Tomazic.
Once the assessment is complete and the safety solution is designed and validated, the solution can then be integrated and commissioned to enhance productivity and workplace safety. The Global Solutions team at Rockwell Automation provide end-to-end safety solutions and can help at any stage of safeguarding a project- from training and standards through to validation and startup.
Information and integration
The Industrial Internet of Things continues to bridge the gap between the physical and virtual worlds; generating data that provides visibility into operational issues to help improve profitability and reliability. Connected, smart machinery can enable secure, remote access services that reduce operational costs throughout the lifecycle of machinery.
“Our solutions are always capable of being connected into any enterprise system. We recently integrated a historian system into a large crane at a power station. This system provides information about how many times the hoist has worked and its maximum load which can be used to calculate end of lifecycle parameters. For example, if the crane is 25 years old but only works two percent of the time then it still has more life in it,” says Mr Tomazic.
These smart solutions provide more information and transparency to improve the lifespan of equipment and drive productivity throughout the enterprise. Smart engineering combined with detailed application knowledge can help increase machine speed for increased production or improve machine control to optimise quality as well as quantity.