Injection Molding | 2 MINUTE READ

It’s a Connected World Now for Pumps, Valves & Drives, Too

New connectivity products from Bosch Rexroth permit digital monitoring of hydraulic systems for remote diagnostics and predictive maintenance.


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At NPE2018, Bosch Rexroth Corp., Bethlehem, Pa., was proclaiming as the theme of its booth, “The Connected Revolution Is Here.” To explain what that means, Neal Gigliotti, manager of the company’s Plastics Group, and Keaton Holappa, applications engineer for Industry 4.0/Connected Hydraulics, gave me a tour of their exhibit and some of their newest products:

 •  IO-Link offers cost-effective digitization (or digitalization, if you prefer) of analog interfaces for hydraulic valves, sensors and actuators to bring them into the emerging Industry 4.0 ecosystem. This open standard protocol uses existing hardware, cables, bus masters and sensors. It standardizes and simplifies wiring, thanks to standard M12 (five-pin) cable connectors with unshielded three-conductor/five-conductor cables (shielded cable connectors are more expensive). This way, extensive time-consuming and fault-prone individual wiring by hand is no longer required. According to Rexroth, IO-Link adds very little or nothing to the overall cost—it actually costs less than using analog signals. For the user, plug-and-play digitization of hydraulics provides more visibility of what’s happening in the system, ID’s individual devices, saves setup parameters, facilitates troubleshooting, and provides maintenance-related data such as how long a component has been running since its last maintenance check. Rexroth cautions that IO-Link is not for every application, such as those that involve high-speed changes in operating conditions.

 •  Improvidus is a combination of hardware, software and consulting to provide free cloud-based OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) visualization and data storage. It can display a wealth of operating data, such as how many shifts a job has been running and the actual part count versus the expected count. It can monitor particular machines or a whole plant. In addition to the basic free OEE monitoring system, software analytic tools are available for a fee. For example Multi-Metric Pareto Tools help prioritize deviations or problems by frequency or cost and time impact. Pareto analysis also can provide troubleshooting recommendations on most likely root causes. An Event Correlation Tool provides insights by correlating events and the time between those events.

 •  ODiN is Rexroth’s Online Diagnostics Network, a cloud-based predictive-maintenance service package that works with connected hydraulics to maximize uptime and prevent unplanned shutdowns. Sensors collect data on operating conditions of hydraulic systems and transmit them via secure connections and Rexroth’s IoT Gateway software (also used for Improvidus). Self-learning software evaluates the sensor data and alerts the user to probable failures. The system learns what is normal behavior of the hydraulic system and recognizes deviations. It thereby creates a “health index” of the system. In the cloud, the software compares the sensor data with that coming from other machines or systems to improve prediction accuracy with every data set.

 •  ActiveCockpit is a large,multi-use screen display for the shop floor. It interfaces to MES and ERP systems to help visualize all relevant production data in real time, including data streams from assembly systems and other production machines. It also serves as a digital “white board” for making and transmitting notes.