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CONNECTING MANUFACTURING EQUIPMENT TO IN-HOUSE NETWORKS IMPROVES OPERATIONS – DESMA MACHINE CONNECTIVITY

There is a near-continuous discussion about “being connected” in our current 21st-century environment. Whether that means by mobile phone, social media, or the latest fast internet service, this is something that most of us hear about or think about regularly. The manufacturing world has become subject to this same environment in the last few years. The push for Industry 4.0 related activities has accelerated this now common theme in manufacturing, including in our market of rubber injection molding.

Most successful manufacturing companies are constantly searching for means to improve their operations. Along these lines, the concept of connecting manufacturing equipment to internal and external networks is now seen as a competitive advantage. DESMA is well equipped to support our customers and their variety of needs to connect rubber injection molding machines securely. We offer solutions for live data output, historical data recording, networked process recipe storage, remote service, and smartphone machine monitoring.

Each specific customer need has its own set of considerations, so it is essential to understand the different machine connectivity options when undertaking such a project. Below is a brief explanation of each option from DESMA.

remote service

Customer Need: The desire to connect machine controls to the manufacturer for remote troubleshooting support and assistance. Connecting machine controls is a widespread need that helps many customers improve uptime and reduce maintenance costs. Remote connectivity allows a DESMA technician to directly access the DRC (DESMA Rubber Control) system to assist customer personnel with troubleshooting or optimizing the machine.

Solution: DESMA RemoS or SmartWall with associated connection package. DESMA USA has an in-house server with a VPN that directly connects to the customer machine when ready. The DESMA RemoS and SmartWall hardware devices can be used for remote service. There are differences between each of these that should be considered:

RemoS: A portable/stand-alone device that is connected to the machine (120V power) and Ethernet connection, then to the internet either via mobile broadband (using prepaid SIM card) or factory internet (using Wi-Fi). A single RemoS should be considered a tool for the sole purpose of remote service connection. One device can (as needed) support many DESMA machines.

The unit only needs to be connected to the subject machine, and the connection initiated with DESMA. Before purchasing, the type of RemoS unit should be decided by the customer based on the availability of network connection. Questions like: Is mobile broadband available at the machine? Is there a strong Wi-Fi signal available at the machine? Need to be answered when deciding on this solution.

SmartWall – A machine-installed device permanently mounted in the DESMA machine, connected to machine power and Ethernet connection, then to the internet via a customer-provided Ethernet cable. When using the SmartWall for remote service purposes, each machine must have a SmartWall device. The SmartWall allows the machine to be connected to DESMA USA at any time for service (when combined with a connection package) via our previously mentioned VPN and server. The SmartWall, by definition, is a hardware firewall separating the machine controls from the factory network as a security measure. While SmartWall provides remote service capability, it enables all other machine networking functions (FTP Server, OPC, SmartConnect).


DESMA FTP SERVER OPTION

Customer need: Historical data recording on customer server & network storage of machine recipe files. Many manufacturers seek to reduce manual data entry, improve record-keeping of actual production conditions, and have the means to review data from past production runs.

DESMA FTP Server

Solution: DESMA FTP Server option. If a straightforward output of molding cycle data satisfies the need for customer data collection, the DESMA FTP Server option is the best choice. This software solution enables the connection of DESMA machines to the factory network via the SmartWall mentioned above. Once connected, the FTP Server is easily configured to automatically save production data to a customer-provided local network server. Files are saved in CSV format, making them readable by MS Excel or other spreadsheet programs. Data like cycle time, mold temperature, injection time, and more are saved each molding cycle with files configured to save on a time-based frequency for easy future reference (per day, per shift, or per cycle count).
The other feature included with the FTP Server is saving and loading process recipes to/from all connected DESMA machines from a networked storage drive. This feature prevents the potential for multiple variations of the same process recipe from being used on different machines or by other operators. This can sometimes be a challenge in larger multi-shift operations. It also prevents the loss of essential recipe files provided the selected storage drive is on a data backup system.


OPC INTERFACE TO MES (MANUFACTURING EXECUTION SYSTEM)

Customer need: Live machine data output to MES (Manufacturing Execution System). The use of MES is becoming more common each year. These systems take live data from factory equipment and use it in various ways to track equipment performance. MES data is different from the FTP Server “snapshot” data provided from each molding cycle. When live information is available, trends within each cycle or across a specified timeline can be analyzed and reviewed in detail. The MES provides most of the functionality, but each machine has to be capable of outputting the data appropriately.

DESMA MES System

Solution: The industry-standard protocol OPC commonly executes live data output from DESMA machines. This is supported by DESMA in our OPC software solution configuration and enabled by the SmartWall device connected to the factory network.
In an OPC solution, both the machine and the MES need to be configured for the exchange of data according to defined “tags”.
Each tag represents a data type such as a temperature and must be correctly identified so that the MES reads it into the appropriate field. DESMA has a standard OPC data tag configuration for the most popular data fields and can also create additional tags based on specific customer needs.
Once set up and communicating via OPC to the onsite MES, customers can manipulate, record, and analyze data according to their needs.


smartconnect and smartapp

Customer need: Ability to remotely monitor live machine/process conditions. In our “always-on” culture, some customers want access to the basic status of their production equipment at all times and from any location via their smartphone or other devices.

Solution: Remote machine condition monitoring is possible through DESMA SmartConnect using the SmartApp.
When DESMA SmartConnect is connected and operational on machines within a customer factory, customers can see the status and details of all machines from a web portal on their PC.
Adding the SmartApp allows customers to see machine operational status (operation mode, article production, current cycle time) directly from their mobile device.
Like most of the other connected services, SmartConnect and SmartApp require the SmartWall hardware for the physical connection to the network and internet.


Summary
This brief overview of each option provides insight into the various solutions available to address wide-ranging market needs for machine connectivity in modern rubber injection molding companies. DESMA USA offers a comprehensive catalog of hardware and software options to suit these needs. While some solutions are quick and easy to implement, others are more complex and require considerable effort and collaboration to get the most benefit.

Selecting the best option to fit the exact need is essential to ensuring satisfaction. The next step is to confirm that the required network services (both hardware and software) are available and can be configured to work with the DESMA solutions. This is usually done through working together with onsite IT resources. Then, when it is time for installation, the DESMA CCC team can install the necessary hardware and software on your machines and assist with training users to get the most benefit from the solution.

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