By Lars Hohmuth, Product Manager Industrial Computing
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The HARTING Technology Group is offering a highly innovative solution in the shape of HARTING IIC MICA: for the first time, a modular platform is available with open hardware and software that is rapidly and cost efficiently adaptable to all industrial applications. HARTING has proved itself as a pacemaker and pioneer for Industry 4.0. Following huge interest at Hannover Messe while winning the HERMES AWARD, HARTING is producing serial models.[/box]
Good, affordable platforms for embedded development in the hobby sector have been available for a number of years now – such as the Raspberry Pi, the €35 learning computer that started a revolution on the maker scene – while Arduino and Beaglebone etc., also have their dedicated fans. With their low hardware costs, open development environments and freely available specifications, these products have also been widely used for prototyping and concept development. But after prototyping comes migration, requiring solid hardware and software compatible with industrial utilizations. The cost here is time, as the hardware for these solutions is unsuitable for industrial purposes, and requires developers to worry about a lot of implementation details that aren’t within their own area of expertise.
HARTING has developed a modular hardware and software platform for this and many other internal and external projects with an ideal design for both rapid development and industrial application in medium quantities. Particular attention was paid to three aspects:
- Hardware for industry that can be installed in new and existing machines and vehicles in a few easy steps
- Configurable hardware where specific customer capabilities can be added quickly and easily without changing form factor or protection class
- A stable and robust open software environment enabling both production and IT developers to complete projects quickly
Modular hardware for industry
HARTING IIC MICA_Bild 2Unlike the hobby hardware referred to above, HARTING IIC MICA (Integrated Industry Computer Modular Industry Computing Architecture) is robust, suitable for industrial applications and built into a compact aluminium housing with industry standard connectors. This means that MICA doesn’t have to be mounted in the control cupboard, but can be mounted directly on machines or vehicles. Inside, MICA consists of three circuit boards, one of which can be fitted freely. This means that RFID, WLAN, BLE and SSD devices or fieldbus connections can be installed for example – without changing form factor or protection class. The MICA USB-based hardware architecture facilitates prototyping via widely available USB peripheries, enabling rapid development and integration of in-house hardware modules – which saves time and money.
Virtual industry computing
MICA uses lightweight virtualisation with Linux containers. Software apps run in virtual Linux-based containers containing all the libraries and drivers required for the particular use. This means that package dependencies and incompatibility are a thing of the past. Even at launch stage, numerous freeLinux containers were available for a wide range of development environments: Java, Python, C/C++. There are also containers from industrial applications such as OPC-UA and databases to hadoop and R.
MICA software takes care of housekeeping tasks such as container management, network settings, authentication, installation, upgrades and much more, allowing developers to focus on their algorithms.
Even before the official product launch at SPS DRIVES in Nuremberg in November 2015, MICA was being deployed in a large number of HARTING, partner and customer projects and inspiring new ideas. A few examples:
MICA for long-term data acquisition
In one case in Austria, a medium-sized machine manufacturer was producing between 200 and 300 machines per year, but the control electronics system was only able to store just 3 days of production data.
If used abroad, this wasn’t enough time for saving sufficient data for service personnel to fix a fault. The solution here was to install aMICA with integrated SSD to serve as a memory device. If there was a fault, the customer could grant access to the device and the manufacturer could use several months or years of data for troubleshooting. Data could also be selected during normal service visits and used for product improvement.
MICA for process optimisation
A customer was ordering a wide range of connectors, which needed to be packed and dispatched in one or more boxes. With the previous scenario, the employee had to use a weighing machine, an SPS to control the packing machine, the ERP and a label printer and look up operating procedures manually.
Through internal IT consultancy an MICA was mounted onto the packing station, gathering all of this information andcarrying out all intermediate stages automatically. OPC UA transferred weighing data to SAP MII, the operating procedure was loaded from the ERP via JSON, translated into STEP 7 and uploaded to SPS. This freed up the employee and speeded up the packaging process considerably. Other KPIs could be captured in further stages and used for process optimisation.
MICA for retro-fitting predictive maintenance
The timely identification of the need to carry out maintenance is one of the quickest ways to run production equipment and machines more efficiently and cost-effectively. But, given that machines have a life of 15 to over 30 years, a large proportion of existing machines have neither the computing power nor the memory capacity to record, store and communicate the relevant data.
In one application for injection moulding equipment, tools were identified with RFID, power measured with an inductive power sensor during injection and the results compiled, stored and processed in the MICA. Stage one involved only triggering a warning if power consumption changed, which indicates to problems with the valves or printing system. This extendedreplacement intervals, thereby saving money. A few months later, a neural network was trained using captured data and installed on the computer, enabling improved lifecycle forecasting. In the final stage, it was possible to link the MICAs to the ERP, optimising ordering and the provision of replacement parts.
HARTING IIC MICA: for the first time, there is now a modular platform with open hardware and software adaptable to all industrial applications quickly and inexpensively.
Contact India: Abhishek Bimal, Assistant Marketing Communications Manager
HARTING India Pvt Ltd
More information: www.HARTING.in