How can millions of machines be connected with the Internet of Things to make processes transparent and to enable monitoring and evaluation? Without intervening in the automation logic? Very easily. With only a few sensors and the IoT Gateway, which Bosch Rexroth presented at SPS IPC Drives 2016.
Continuously improving manufacturing processes, decreasing production costs and increasing product quality – many machine manufacturers and operators find themselves confronted with these challenges every day. But what can be done with machines and systems that are not outfitted for connectivity, machines which would normally be closed off from efficiency-enhancing digitalization? With the IoT Gateway from Bosch Rexroth, they can be catapulted all at once, with minimal effort, into the era of the Internet of Things and Services (IoT).
Plug-and-Run via web interface
For an i4.0 retrofit à la Bosch Rexroth, the system operator needs only to select the parameters to be monitored, choose the corresponding sensors and connect them with the IoT Gateway. The connected system, made up of sensors, software and IoT-capable industrial hardware, can be quickly and easily set up, handled and managed using the dashboard – the intuitive and easy-to-use web-based IoT Gateway interface. The wide range of sensors includes digital and analogue interfaces with Bluetooth low energy, USB and RFID. Finally, the user needs only to define which data is to be processed and sent to higher-level systems for monitoring and evaluation.
Making information visible…
The broad spectrum of uses and the performance of an i4.0 upgrade with the IoT Gateway is demonstrated by a spectacular showcase, at the center of which stands a 129-year-old museum machine. On this pedal-driven lathe from 1887, Robert Bosch personally manufactured parts for the magneto – the product that helped the company achieve its breakthrough at the end of the 19th century. Equipped with Bosch sensors and the IoT Gateway, the current speed can now be recorded as a relevant production parameter and visualized graphically on the Active Cockpit. With this simple upgrade, even an inexperienced user can recognize whether they must pedal more quickly or slowly for optimal processing of the workpiece.
…and using it to good effect
Today’s production and process data, which previously lay unused and hidden, can be made visible just as easily. The task of the IoT Gateway is to record the collected sensor data and send it to IT or cloud solutions where it is converted into meaningful information. For example, failures and rejects can be avoided through real-time process monitoring, unused machine components can be automatically switched off and predictive maintenance can be planned. In addition, there is the opportunity to quickly and cost-effectively connect machine parks that were not originally outfitted for connectivity to the local condition monitoring or MES systems.
Modernizing and protecting investments
The long innovation cycles in mechanical engineering make the IoT Gateway especially valuable as a cost-effective retrofit solution. Because there are no changes required in the automation logic, the original investments are protected and automation effectiveness enhanced. In contrast to costly conversion projects, functionality and productivity are retained using this approach. Demand is enormous because several million machines are not yet a part of a networked production environment. Even small and medium-sized enterprises might be interested in this attractive form of retrofit, to set up simple control systems for processing workpieces, for example, or to save energy costs.
Robust hardware, modular software, open interfaces
On the hardware side, the IoT Gateway uses Bosch Rexroth’s successful control platform IndraControl XM. Equipped with the latest technology, the IoT Gateway fulfills even the most demanding real-time requirements and can be flexibly expanded to a modular and complete automation system with the IndraControl S20 I/O family.
The “heart” of the solution, the IoT Gateway software, is based on a Linux operating system with Java VM (Java Virtual Machine). Many different Java applications run on the VM, including the dashboard app for configuration and operation, the device apps for data capture and processing apps for data transfer. Deployment of the Java apps is achieved easily, efficiently and securely via the integrated OSGi framework.
Parameterizing instead of programming
The intuitive, secure and fast commissioning of the IoT Gateway requires no programming knowledge and can be accomplished through simple parameterization.
The configuration process using the dashboard app is divided into three logical steps:
- Data capture: Systems and machines can be quickly and easily connected via a default configuration for different input modules. The connected sensors or data sources are configured and parametrized in the ‘device apps’. The recorded machines and sensor data are then available in the apps.
- Data processing: The sensor data defined via device apps can now be pre-processed in processing apps and supplemented with further information. In turn, the processing apps supply data themselves for further processing.
- Data transfer: With the help of the provider apps, all data can be transferred to higher-level systems. Process or machine data can be transferred to IT or cloud applications in this way, for example, to implement predictive maintenance and to reduce machine down-time periods.
Starter Kit – IoT Gateway and Production Performance Manager
The IoT Gateway is not just available as a stand-alone solution, but also as part of Starter Kit. A complete package from Bosch Rexroth such as this one contains additional IoT-based solutions from Bosch Software Innovations, like the Production Performance Manager (PPM) for example. The software organizes the collected information in a visualization and forwards specified results to defined persons. As a result, the information can now serve as a basis for efficient and comprehensive production control, for example.
Pilot projects illustrate potential
A pilot project at the Bosch plant in Homburg is an outstanding example for the potential of the IoT Gateway. Here, hydraulic valves (among other products) are produced for mobile machines such as tractors or backhoes. As part of the project, an existing test bench was equipped with sensors, connected to the IoT Gateway and networked with different software modules, including the Production Performance Manager, the Production Rules Configurator and the Maintenance Support System from Bosch Software Innovations. The installation and commissioning of the IoT Gateway could be implemented in only a few hours. Since then, real-time recording of hydraulic oil quality and rules-based condition monitoring have reliably prevented production-critical contamination of the hydraulic oil by metal particles. The result: automatically secured process quality with 25 percent lower maintenance costs. The effort required for manual testing sank by 20 percent and the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is now 5 percent higher. The investment costs are returned after only 1.5 years.
With the IoT Gateway, Bosch Rexroth once again proves itself as more than just a bridge builder between the worlds of automation and IT. Following direct access to the control core as part of Open Core Engineering and collaboration with modern web languages through the WebConnector, Bosch Rexroth closes another gaping hole: from existing, non-connected manufacturing equipment to the Internet of Things and Services.