Hear from George Barnych an independent consultant currently developing a new manufacturing automation cell concept at the University of New Hampshire’s John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center. Barnych has developed a low risk entry option for small and medium manufacturers wanting to adopt IIoT and automation and is currently integrating an industrial scale CNC machine tool and robotics demonstration of the concept at UNH. The keys to the concept rely on a multi-use CNC layout, an open standard based IIoT system that connects directly to machines and PLCs and a newly developed, no cost, open source cell controller capable of lights out automation.
Most manufacturers agree that digitally connected systems and machines will determine who survives in the coming decades of data-driven analytics and automation. The toughest decision is knowing how to get started. With so many options and so many products, it’s difficult to know if you’re making the right long-term choices, however, waiting is not the answer. The key is to first invest in a standards-based IIoT “backbone” that enables two-way communication between systems in a manner that synchronizes all the data with respect to time regardless of whether the systems are proprietary, home grown or open source. The two-way communication not only enables data collection for analytics and machine learning but serves as the command structure for controlling automation at the cell level. Once the backbone is installed, each individual manufacturer can tune their data driven systems to ideally suit their operations regardless of specialty or diversity.