1660253361671 Donphamthumb

From sensing technologies to the cloud

March 8, 2021
3 suppliers discuss new technologies and IIoT

Charlie Norz is product manager, automation, at Wago.

Don Pham is senior product marketing manager at Idec.

Matt Hankinson, Ph.D., is global market segment leader, MTS Systems, sensors division.

What are three key things that a machine builder, system integrator or manufacturer should know about your organization?

Matt Hankinson, Ph.D., global market segment leader, MTS Systems, sensors division: MTS Sensors, a division of MTS Systems, is the pioneer of magnetostrictive Temposonics technology and a global manufacturer of non-contact linear position sensors and liquid level transmitters. Our linear position sensors help customers improve machine performance and reliability by providing precise and robust position feedback for motion control applications. Our latest generation of sensors, R-Series V, incorporates new technology to support Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things by providing operational statistics along with the measurement data.
Don Pham, senior product marketing manager, Idec: Idec focuses on safe, simple and smart solutions for our customers. These fundamental needs apply to OEMs building machines, systems integrators designing production line automation and manufacturing end users. Idec has created a comprehensive portfolio of wiring devices, sensors, power supplies, PLCs and HMIs, and much more, with attention to the details so every type of end user can do their work easier and keep their systems running productively.

What new technologies are driving product development and why?

Charlie Norz, product manager, automation, Wago: Network security, edge devices and IIOT are all new technologies that are driving the industry and Wago continues to develop solutions for. Users are taking advantage of cloud-based applications to increase manufacturing visibility from a central location. Cloud applications such as historians, AI and predictive maintenance can be used to increase production performance with little capital assets. Wago offers PFC200 controllers for plant floor control with easy connects to any cloud using MQTT, Sparkplug or OPC/UA. New edge devices are being launched to run in real time on the plant floor and aggregate data to reduce cloud data costs.
Matt Hankinson, Ph.D., global market segment leader, MTS Systems, sensors division: Much of our product development focuses our core linear position sensing function with improvements in performance and reliability. However, we see that market growth comes from increased usage of Industrial Ethernet technology, as well as additional data from the sensor that can assist in machine health monitoring and preventive maintenance. We are building more capability into the sensor, such as tracking of distance travelled, cycle count and operational hours, as well as diagnostics such as temperature, signal quality and shock alarms.

How does the Industrial Internet of Things figure into business strategy?

Charlie Norz, product manager, automation, Wago: IIoT is driving many of our technologies. We are seeing end users take advantage of all the things the near-real-time cloud has to offer. We are introducing new edge devices to expand our control platform, and that can be used to carry out algorithms that run in real time, eliminating latency for plant-floor operations. Edge also aggregates data to be sent to cloud. These Linux- based devices can be used to run Docker Containers so that users can select the application they need for their specific system.

Don Pham, senior product marketing manager, Idec: End users of all types are aware of the IIoT and are seeking ways to add enterprise value by incorporating the most productive IIoT capabilities to existing and new systems. Convenient remote access/monitoring/control is one main objective. Gathering data that can be analyzed to support operational optimization and diagnostics is a second goal.

Idec products like PLCs, HMIs and other intelligent devices such as RFID readers include built-in IIoT connectivity and communication capabilities to help users easily take advantage of IIoT features.

One example is Idec mobile apps, which work in conjunction with many types of our products. These apps are often the easiest way for users to configure and monitor their devices. Another example is that we have incorporated the MQTT protocol into our popular MicroSmart FC6A Plus PLC as a free upgrade, so end users can easily add IIoT connectivity to new designs or existing systems.

Matt Hankinson, Ph.D., global market segment leader, MTS Systems, sensors division: As a sensor manufacturer, we see our role in the Industrial Internet of Things as one who provides actionable information with our sensor to be used for machine health monitoring and preventive maintenance. We have incorporated this technology into our latest generation of linear position sensors. The key is determining what types of information to provide and then providing multiple ways to access the information.

How will machine automation and controls alter the way companies staff their operations in the future?

Matt Hankinson, Ph.D., global market segment leader, MTS Systems, sensors division: We are seeing a shift in the skill set required for operating factories. There is so much information available, but automation systems are still relatively primitive in using that information. This transition period requires enough knowledge of the machine function to interpret data until we reach a point that systems are fully automated with diagnostics.

How is the development of software solutions impacting requirements for hardware?

Matt Hankinson, Ph.D., global market segment leader, MTS Systems, sensors division: The solutions we are developing today have greater hardware requirements for processing speed and memory onboard the sensor. However, the designs must meet the increasing need for more information without compromising, but rather expanding, the core function of providing a precise, reliable position measurement.

As engineering and IT continue their convergence, which one is and/or will be leading the direction of future automation and technology?

Don Pham, senior product marketing manager, Idec: Idec will always ensure first and foremost that safety and reliability are preserved and enhanced in the operational technology (OT) devices and products we develop. That being said, there continues to be a great end-user demand for convenience features via IT-based communications and connectivity, so we will constantly be looking for ways to incorporate secure and easy-to-use IT tech where possible.

Looking into the future, how will technology change your organization or other organizations over the next five years?

Charlie Norz, product manager, automation, Wago: Time-sensitive networking (TSN) is an exciting new technology. Our new IP67 products are designed for OPC/UA over TSN. When this standard is complete, Wago will be well-positioned to assist our customers with this new technology. TSN will be key to protocols that are used at the plant floor in the near future. This deterministic, high-bandwidth technology will speed the rate of data transmission to expand the possibilities for plant-floor control and analytics.
About the author: Mike Bacidore
About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected] 

Sponsored Recommendations

2024 State of Technology Report: PLCs & PACs

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) have been a popular method of machine control since the PLC was invented in the late 1960s as a replacement for relay logic. The similarly...

Power Distribution Resource Guide

When it comes to selecting the right power supply, there are many key factors and best practices to consider.

Safe Speed and Positioning with Autonomous Mobile Robots

Here are some tips for ensuring safe speed and positioning for AMRs using integrated safety technology – many of these tips also apply to automated guided vehicles (AGVs).

Faster, Accurate and Reliable Motion Control With Advanced Inductive Technology

This white paper describes new technology offering improved position measurement capabilities in reliability, speed, accuracy and more.