Increasing the Efficiency of Information Management with Seamless Data Integration

Posted by Kari Grosser on Jul 15, 2017 10:30:00 AM

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Since the 1960s, the manufacturing industry has used computers to control cost and production to optimize company resources and efficiency. The rapid development of information technology has resulted in the creating of a wide range of information systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, manufacturing execution systems (MESs) and digital systems for managing customers, supply chains, products, manufacturing processes and equipment. However, regardless of the type of system, data and statistical analysis provides the basis for operation. And although many companies have implemented digital management systems, rather unfortunately, they still rely on manual collection and entry for data acquisition.

Automatic Data Acquisition Replaces Manual Collection and Entry

For most factories (especially in traditional industries), production line operations involve management printing out work orders via a digital management system. After completing tasks, operators fill in a daily worksheet, which is then submitted to the production managers to be input into the system. Tim Chan & Guey Huang, Supervisor of Advantech Industrial Automation Group believe that this method of operation wastes considerable time and resources and increases the potential for data errors. Additionally, data is typically only entered into the system at the end of the shift or during the following dat. This means that in the event that production operations do not accord with the system data, managers' decision making and production scheduling could be based on incorrect information, potentially resulting in excess inventory, incomplete work orders, and delivery delays. These negative outcomes may lead to business losses for manufacturers.

However, as Tim said, "Advantech's data acquisition solution is capable of automatically collecting equipment information and instatly uploading it to an MES, ERP or other management system. Time-consuming, manual, paper-based operations with a high potential for error can be transformed with automatic data collection and real-time uploads. Production information transparency can effectively increase production efficiency and enable real-time management." Guey added, "The lack of standard protocols hinder data collection in traditional industries. Advantech's WebAccess IoT platform solution not only provides a standard transmission interface and supports numerous drivers, but it can also be connected to various devices for seamless data integration across management systems. This allows developers to collect front-end data easily."

Tim and Guey presented two successful case studies involving VIP members of the WISE-Paas/IIoT Alliance. In both cases, system integrators, with assistance from Advantech, were able to extend the functionality of their management systems to enable management of front-end production information.

Case 1: RuiDing Introduces an Intelligent Reporting System for Presenting Production Information in Real Time

Although most people, even those in the technology or manufacturing industries, are relatively unfamiliar with hand tools, Taiwan is one of the world's leading suppliers of hand tools, even earning a reputation internationally as the "Kingdom of Hand Tools".

The hand tool industry covers all hand tools used for repairing, adjusting, or dismantling, such as electric drills, hammers, wrenches and screwdrivers. Hand tool manufacturing typically involves multiple processes, including forging, heat treatment, grinding, polishing, electroplating, painting and engraving. Because toolboxes generally contain various tools numerous finished products may be required to fulfill a single production order. Moreover, the production order may involve both 0n-factory and outsourced manufacturing processes, increasing the complexity of production management.

To assist the RuiTai Group with managing its hand tool manufacturing plant, RuiDing Technology independently developed a data collection system (DCS) using Advantech's WebAccess/SCADA browser-based software package, an ACP-4000 industrial computer chassis, an EKI-5528 Ethernet switch, and a WebOP-2070T human-machine interface (HMI) WVGA operator panel.

The DCS was implemented to automatically collect and transmit factory production data to the ERP management system. The system can display all production line information, such as the equipment operating status, operator behavior, work orders numbers, production quantity and production schedule, on digital signage that provides managers with a real-time overview of the production situation.

The core hardware of this DCS system is Advantech's WebOP-2070T operator panel, which offers durability, compatibility, scalability and easy integration. This HMI product is suitable for operation in extreme environmental conditions, such as high temperatures, humidity, oil and dust exposure, and can support hundreds of industrial PLC communication protocols to facilitate the collection of CNC machine and equipment data. The built-in USB interface allows all work order data stored on handheld barcode machines to be read directly and uploaded without necessitating an additional network converter.

"The introduction of an automatic front-end data collection solution provides immediate management benefits. Previously, the factory experienced at least a one-day lag in terms of information availability. With this new solution, real-time monitoring can be conducted, greatly improving management overall," said Tim.

The innovative intelligent reporting system developed by RuiDing is suitable more than the hand tool manufacturing industry. Manufacturers of bicycles, automobile parts, hardware, furniture, machine tools, measuring tools, etc. have also implemented this system to address ERP deficiencies and increase real-time management efficiency.

Case 2: Alpha Information Systems Implements Paperless Production Management by Introducing a Dedicated MES System

For manufacturers, the introduction of an MES can streamline production, reduce inventory, ensure on-time delivery and improve product quality. The manufacturing sector in Taiwan includes a wide range of industries. According to the Executive Yuan's Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, the manufacturing industry in Taiwan comprises nearly a hundred categories. MES solutions are ideal for manufacturers because they optimize management of the entire production process, from order receipt to product delivery. However, because production methods, along with manufacturers' expectations of management systems, differ between manufacturing industries, MES systems must be configured to specific customer needs or integrated with additional features to maximize functionality.

To address the requirements of factory operations, Alpha Information Systems developed a unique MES (AlphaMES) aimed at a few key manufacturing processes. This system also included Advantech's WebAccess/SCADA browser-based software package, as well as its HPC-7242 industrial rackmount server chassis, PWS-870 rugged tablet computer, EKI-6332GN Wi-Fi network client, EKI-5728 Ethernet switch, WISE-4012 IoT wireless I/O module, and EIS-FEC310-H embedded computer.

This integrated software/hardware system provided the ideal solution for a factory that must make frequent dynamic adjustments to its production lines. Besides allowing managers to quickly understand the production and order processing status via data displayed on digital signage, the system transformed their paper-based order processing operations into digital processes involving barcode scanners and electronic forms, ultimately reducing data collection costs, accelerating the output of reports, and providing traceable production records.

Guey commented that Alpha Information Systems, using its strong customization capabilities, was able to integrate several standardized subsystems into a comprehensive solution by adopting a modularized system design. The combination of Advantech's WebAccess platform and industrial hardware products enable AlphaMES to deliver its front-end data collection functionality. More specifically, the PWS-870 rigged tablet computer allows production line staff to complete work reports electronically, the WISE-4012 IoT wireless I/O module facilitates automatic collection of equipment data, and the EIS-FEC310-H embedded computer enables real0time equipment monitoring and maintenance.

Considering the AlphaPMQ subsystem for example, this intelligent predictive maintenance system monitors the equipment operation status be measuring equipment vibration. Alpha Information Systems adopted the high-performance EIS-FEC310-H to collect machine data, and then created a dynamic display output using WebAccess/SCADA's user-friendly dashboard development tool. This display output provides managers a clear overview of the control center systems' dynamic uninterrupted power supply (DUPS), allowing them to assess potential risks and schedule early maintenance to prevent catastrophic failure and interruption of the production line. This predictive maintenance function is highly valued by semiconductor manufacturers, and a number of manufacturers in Taiwan and China have also installed this system in their wafer manufacturing factories.

Cooperation to Achieve Early Implementation of Industry 4.0

Information systems that enable digital management play a significant role in business decision making and the management of daily operations. Although information technology and industrial control systems have not traditionally been integrated, the arrival of Industry 4.0 has necessitated cross-system data communication. Accordingly, developers are facing urgent demands for a comprehensive industrial control solution for conveniently and rapidly integrating production information.

"Because system integration have professional knowledge of specific industries, and Advantech has a diverse product portfolio and extensive experience with industrial control integration platforms, cooperation and collaboration is the key to accelerating the realization of Industry 4.0 Advantech's scale and prestige in the industrial control market offers attractive advantages for potential partners," said Tim.

Guey added, "System integrators will implement Industry 4.0 solutions with the technical support of original equipment manufacturers. Despite the diversity apparent in the manufacturing industry, Advantech's numerous data acquisition solutions enable system integrators to develop unique systems customized to the production processes of specific industries. Furthermore, because these solutions integrate both software and hardware, they can significantly shorten development time, facilitate early completion, and accelerate the implementation of smart factory applications."


Written by Sharlene Yu. Interview with Tim Chain & Guey Huang, Supervisor of Advantech Industrial IoT Group


Topics: Industrial Communication, Human Machine Interface, Industrial Computer Chassis, Industrial Servers & Storage, Remote I/O

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