The benefits of converting data to a unified protocol

Feb. 14, 2022
And what is "IIoT made easy"?

Modern manufacturing machines—and the types of data those machines produce—are incredibly varied; they grow more diverse each day. Likewise, the method with which we can unlock that data is evolving at a rapid clip. The team at Banner believe they have a new approach to this opportunity—a new method to glean valuable insights from machine performance. 

Click the graphic to view the Banner video "Introducing Snap Signal: Hardware and Software for your IIoT Evolution"

“The key is converting data to a unified protocol to be able to bring it to the controller device and send that data to the cloud,” explained Sean Foley, Banner business development manager. “It’s really a simple premise. With a mono signal everything speaks the same language. When you add new life to work cells as you bring it online.” 

“Even with enterprise-wide deployments, you still have that unified protocol,” Foley added. His colleague James Vande Castle, senior content strategy manager at Banner Engineering, confirmed that there is no ripping and replacing of existing PLCs or sensors. This technique taps into sensor data that is already there and uses a parallel wire splitter to harvest data in the optimally usable format for analysis. 

The duo confirmed that, with this approach, manufacturers can start small and confidently, rapidly scale efforts. “You can create a smart factory very quickly,” Foley explained. “You can tap into things like data distribution, data visualization, you can monitor degradation over time. You can see where assets are failing and catch them before they totally fail.” 

Another advantage is simple detection–as simple as a text message to alert when, say, the temperature of an asset goes above a threshold, or the pressure of a system goes above or below a set parameter. 

Foley and Vande Castle emphasized that, when doing deployment of IIoT efforts in this manner, operators don’t need to monitor everything, which often leads to analysis paralysis. Rather, the focus is on getting the right data—asking the right questions about pain points—them tapping into sensors that address those challenges. 

Consider tracking raw material over time, the Banner reps advise. Users can have multiple sensors—up to 240 devices in a single port—and take the existing installation of those sensors and activate a second way to move that data to cloud, other than the PLC.  

Application for end users 

End users are the prime beneficiaries of this tact—they know what their pain points are and where they want to maximize output. Think maintenance managers, plant managers and facility engineers, Foley said. This varies from enterprise to enterprise, of course. But, commonly, pressure is coming from the top—from the C-suite—to implement these initiatives and start reaping gains immediately. 

Industries range from process to discrete, from HVAC to material-handling, automotive, etc. Any enterprise interested in smarter predictive maintenance, data capture and the whole shebang we call IIoT. 

What is “IIoT made easy”?

The Banner reps explained how they encounter a perception among many new to the world of digitalization that IIoT projects are difficult; that these projects must be massive undertakings that will completely overhaul traditional processes and require new teams of personnel. 

The pair stressed that their approach is modular—a plug-and-play approach to bringing data to the cloud that is not only easier to implement but also more efficient. “You don’t need a special technician,” said Vande Castle. “You plug in the cord and it starts reading data the moment it is plugged in.” (And those cords are specially designed to fit into tight space, he added.) 

When implemented properly, these two describe “lightbulb moments,” when manufacturers are able to deploy IoT campaigns with their legacy assets by merely tapping into a few discrete sensors and delivering cloud-computing capabilities across their factory floor. Clients begin monitoring assets remotely, rather than laboriously with a clipboard. They begin saving time and money when they’d feared the opposite outcomes would happen. 

“You begin to see people’s minds change with this concept,” said Foley. “They can combine wireless and wired networks. They can break their dependence on cables. People start to see the big picture.” 

He continued, “This is a new way to unlock valuable machine data that was never able to be accessed before from, say, a 20-year-old machine. Now you can not only grab this data, but you can see it whenever you want from anywhere in the facility.”  

Want more? Read about Banner’s Snap Signal line by clicking here.