Improved Machine Control with IIoT

by | Apr 17, 2019 | Fluid Control & Pneumatics, Industrial IoT

Jim Cahill

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

In several Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)-related posts here on the blog, we discussed a number of ways these technologies can help improve performance in safety, reliability, efficiency & emissions, and production for process manufacturers. But what about hybrid and discrete manufacturers?

In a Control Engineering article, IIoT-ready technologies improve machine controls, Emerson’s Steven Fales describes how diagnostics and prognostics embedded in IIoT devices enables improved business performance.

Control Engineering: IIoT-ready technologies improve machine controlsSteven opens contrasting the typical approach for an operator to troubleshoot on a bottling line by accessing a programmable logic controller (PLC). In an IIoT-enabled bottling line:

…the operator pulls out a smartphone, connects to the machine’s pneumatic valve system, and pulls up a web page showing diagnostic data on the equipment’s pneumatic system performance. It’s apparent a solenoid coil has burned out in a directional control valve that controls one of the machine’s actuators. Within minutes, a maintenance technician plugs in a new control valve and the bottling line is running again with little lost productivity or major control system intervention.

The promise of IIoT technologies is:

…increased productivity, decreased downtime and reduced maintenance costs at unprecedented levels.

While the technology is still evolving, and projects are being piloted, the trend is to find opportunities for success and scale over time. The emerging architecture combines:

…smart devices (such as sensors, input/output (I/O) modules, servo drives, robots, motor starters, etc.) with smart pneumatic valve systems incorporating industrial network interfaces, integrated I/O and local analytics capability. These smarter connected devices will form the backbone of the machines’ controls and have IIoT connectivity.

Point-to-point IO-Link communications enables easier data extraction from smart sensors and devices. This architecture of:

…wireless connectivity, mobile devices and wireless diagnostics and prognostics provides smart pneumatic manifolds [such as the Numatics G3 Electronic Fieldbus Platform] with the analytical capabilities required for IIoT applications. The technologies deliver data from the field devices (smart sensors) through pneumatic manifolds into a machine control system.

IO-Link complements higher-level, Ethernet-based industrial networks:

…to allow network communication to reach the lowest layer of the control system. Through these IO-Link master gateways, smart devices can send diagnostic and prognostic data digitally to high-level processors for analysis, which can take place in a local, on-site or cloud environment.

Read the article as Steven describes how the pilot IIoT implementations can be scaled plant-wide and enable better collaboration among operating personnel and experts to help avoid abnormal conditions or overcome them more quickly to return to optimum production levels.

Visit the Pneumatic Valves & Control section on for more these machine control technologies. You can also connect and interact with other machine control experts in the Fluid Control & Pneumatics group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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