Software and service – reshaping the core competitiveness of the future automation industry
Industrial software is becoming a hot topic in China’s manufacturing industry. Whether it is manufacturing, equipment manufacturing, or automation, everyone is beginning to realize the importance of software, as well as the knowledge behind software, basic theoretical research, engineering practice, and data. This is an industrial collective action based on the value recognition of knowledge, engineering, innovation, service, and talents. This heralds the awakening of the collective consciousness of the industry – putting us on the track of a more important reshaping of competitiveness.
Industry needs are changing
Digital transformation and high-quality development
The transformation of an enterprise is to move the business from low-end to high-end, from low-value-added to high-value-added, from making quick money to sustainable development. High-quality development is advocated at the national level, and enterprises must also transform to a path that is more competitive, responds to changes, and differentiates competitiveness.
Figure 1 – The transformation of enterprises lies in the extension from low-end to sustainable high value-added
Digitalization for enterprise transformation, first of all, is to replace human uncertainty in manufacturing with digital flexibility, and convert human knowledge and experience into reusable software. Secondly, it is necessary to have the ability to respond to market changes and realize digitalization of manufacturing, because digitalization has the greatest flexibility, and flexible changes in production lines can be realized through software definition. Industrial interconnection, digital twins, and edge computing are all to solve these problems . Third, digital transformation pays more attention to enterprises with intelligent technology talents and service capabilities, because it is inevitable for a community of interests with professional segmentation and collaboration to cope with competition.
Applied Complexity vs Professional Complexity
Before the 1980s, the manufacturing industry was in the production of large-scale standard parts, fixed mechanical structure, and the application of controlling a machine through PLC logic control and electrical transmission mechanism. In those days, an electrical engineer could easily control the program of a machine. Even after the 1990s, with the increase in the complexity of machine materials, there is more demand for control technology, and a large number of servo motor applications in printing, plastics and other fields also make the application of multi-axis synchronization and electronic cam become more common, but even at this stage, electrical engineers are still able to control the program of a machine – in IT industry terms, this is called a “full stack engineer”, that is, one engineer can control the application of the entire machine Program design and testing.
Figure 2 – The process of automation and intelligence in the equipment manufacturing industry
As machines become more and more complex, the territory of automation is also constantly expanding, from ladder diagrams in the past to algorithm engineers, from only needing to understand logic to complex process algorithms. From frequency conversion drives to a large number of servo systems, as well as the application of CNC and Robots, and even to today’s mechatronics such as B&R’s ACOPOStrak flexible conveying technology, machine vision, and defect analysis and optimization using machine learning and deep learning application.
Full-stack engineers no longer exist, but multi-disciplinary collaboration and collaboration between different teams are needed to meet the overall integration requirements from machines to factories, which makes experts on complex engineering issues such as “planning” and “integration” more Urgent needs.
Customization extends to applications and services
30 years ago, when machines belonged to the seller’s market, standard models existed. However, today, this no longer exists. Each customer’s machine will be different, and even a customer’s different factories/workshops will not stop. The difference between this year and last year—this change comes from the pressure of the market, the differences in market segments, and the need for differentiated competition.
The Display of individuality in the terminal market is transmitted to the personalized production of manufacturing enterprises, while for machines it becomes how to respond to changes. This demand has been transmitted to the automation industry, and it is necessary to quickly build application systems with modular software and hardware.
This requires automation companies with the ability to quickly build applications, including software modular design, and experienced electromechanical engineers—because test verification also requires experience to shorten the cycle. Experience can reduce this exploration process.
The ability of application software development and engineering consulting and implementation services will inevitably become the most important competitiveness of automation enterprises in the future. Because the difference in hardware is not big, and horizontal technology resources are not scarce. However, talents, industry knowledge, professional services – can form the soft power of automation enterprises.
What are automation software and services?
The Know-How of the industry is packaged as a software module, which is the essence of industrial software – the reuse of knowledge. The service is oriented to the whole life cycle of the equipment, from the early planning and design consultation of the machine, solution development, personnel training, remote operation and maintenance, and the whole process of upgrading and transformation.
Pre-engineering program consulting services
Consultants in the field of business consulting usually have rich experience, can quickly grasp problems, and formulate effective experiences. Similarly, in the field of electrical automation, excellent consultants can also formulate effective system consulting services for users.
In the past, the electrical system was relatively simple, just select the I/O type, quantity, type, precision (analog), etc., configure the power supply capacity of the CPU and power supply accordingly, and then communicate with HMI, inverter, etc. Now, with the application of a large number of servo applications, machine vision, and flexible conveying, this makes the preliminary solution consultation more complicated, and poses greater challenges to the sales and engineer consulting service capabilities of automation manufacturers.
Accurate motor selection – performance and energy consumption
The selection of the motor is affected by various working conditions such as the transmission mode of the mechanical system, the change of the load, and the motion mode (continuous and frequent acceleration and deceleration). These require professional consultants based on the processing performance (accuracy) set by the mechanical system and the product. , speed, repeatability), etc. to calculate, and select the appropriate motor and drive system, it needs to consider the initial purchase cost, energy efficiency, safety and other factors. Many lack of experience in this field, only relying on the “nameplate” – referring to the previous selection, will bring many problems to the machine, and these services will cause losses.
Figure 3 – Precise selection using simulation software
B&R engineers can draw on their extensive experience in machine development through theautomation ServoSoft embedded in Studio, and software modeling and simulation such as MapleSoft, can accurately select the motor, as shown in Figure 3.
Mechatronic Fusion – Matching Demands and Capabilities
With the introduction of such a flexible conveying system as ACOPOStrak/ACOPOS 6D, it must be compatible with the assembly process of the manufacturing line, the process of each station, the tact required for lean production, load balancing, and One Piece Flow. Design and scheduling related. This requires not only mechanical and electrical engineers, but also engineers who understand lean manufacturing and industrial processes and users to form a “common language” for communication. Match “needs” with “capabilities”.
Figure 4 – Maximizing efficiency by identifying waste in production
As shown in Figure 4, electromechanical engineers need to work with factory process engineers/IE engineers to excavate waste in production, and formulate effective layout, buffer design, diversion/combination, and beat controllers to make the production line achieve continuous flow and flexibility and balanced production.
UI design – simple but not simple
Customers always hope that “the function is powerful enough and the operation is extremely simple”. This comes from the simple design idea like the iPhone and the lifestyle of today’s “digital natives”. The operation between touch and slide does not require an operation manual. Ready to use.
Figure 5-UI design is not just about aesthetics
UI design integrates the beauty of industry and art. Industry lies in the ability to standardize the operating structure and achieve unified internal and industry norms. Just like the UI design in Figure 5, in fact, its layout includes the parameters and information required for the integration of “IT and OT” today, and different configurations can be completed in one page, behind which is the powerful modeling (process and information construction) mod), making for a strong yet simple balance.
Machine Vision Application – Adapting Measures to Local Conditions
Machine vision is different from ordinary sensors or I/O. It needs to calculate the sight distance and strobe according to various characteristics of the detected object (reflection, light transmission, refraction), surrounding light source conditions, and sampling frequency. Then carry out installation test verification and optimization. And if this kind of experience is lacking, then it will mean a lot of engineering time, and the cost of defective products caused by testing will increase.
Figure 6 – Vision needs to configure different scenarios
As shown in Figure 6, in the pharmaceutical light inspection, it is necessary to inspect the lid, shoulder, and bottom of the bottle for defects, as well as inspections for cracks, suspended solids, and fibers on the bottle body. And this requires very good camera sampling feature extraction, light source design, application of learning and training models, etc., requiring professional engineers to design.
The so-called “sharpening the knife without cutting firewood by mistake”, in order to achieve the effect of “doubling the result with half the effort” instead of “half the effort”, it is necessary to introduce professional consultation in the early planning and design stage of the project. Due to the complexity of the current machines, Therefore, it is more dependent on professional automation experts to participate in early research and development.
Joint technical research
In addition to the previous engineering consultation, the professionalism has continued to deepen. Now, with the demand for professional division of labor and domain knowledge. Many users also tend to entrust the development form when developing innovative models. Because it takes a long time and a lot of cost to cultivate a professional engineering team, and professional automation companies, experience in this area can improve efficiency, quality, and respond more quickly. In addition, worry about the leakage of technology due to the loss of personnel, unlike automation companies, which do not need such knowledge, and are the output of capabilities, and use contracts and modular packaging to avoid the loss of Know-How.
Figure 7 – Electromechanical co-simulation improves development efficiency
In the machine development and application of B&R, it will also be widely applied to the modeling and simulation of MATLAB/Simulink control system, the electromechanical simulation of MapleSim, and the process simulation of IndustrialPhysics. The control task development of Automation Studio and these software can realize dynamic co-simulation through FMU/FMI and OPC UA to accelerate the development of the machine.
At this time, mechanical engineers and process engineers who need equipment developers can work with electrical engineers in the automation industry to achieve joint development.
More and more data-driven modeling (machine learning, deep learning) is used for quality, predictive maintenance, parameter optimization. There are more and more applications based on these methods.
Figure 8 – Encapsulation of industrial knowledge based on data-driven modeling
Hypervisor’s PC architecture also allows real-time control and computing tasks to be implemented on the same hardware architecture, and the latest release of exOS provides software platform capability support in this regard.
Training ~ not limited to technology
There are specializations in the technical industry, and more and more users are beginning to pay attention to the training of electrical teams. They need more outstanding engineers. However, due to several sources of engineers, professional training is required:
?Engineers come from non-mechanical engineering majors;
?Lack of software, visual and other emerging technology training;
?Universities lack engineering thinking training;
Excellent engineers rely on professional tools, engineering thinking and methods to solve problems efficiently, as shown in Figure 9, top engineers have different capability requirements at different stages.
Figure 9 – Great Engineers Are Good Top Designers
In this regard, automation companies specializing in electromechanical development have trained engineers with very strong self-hematopoietic capabilities. The output of this ability will also help equipment manufacturing companies and terminal manufacturers to improve their own electromechanical capabilities.
What kind of enterprises have such service capabilities?
However, not all enterprises are particularly suitable or competent for the competitiveness of software and services, and this usually requires the following conditions and characteristics.
If a worker wants to do a good job, he must first sharpen his tools
Software and service consulting must be based on an integrated architecture to achieve sustainable competitiveness. B&R’s Automation Studio is a very powerful software architecture that supports software and engineering services.
Figure 10 – Software Architecture Supports Fully Integrated Innovative Development
As shown in Figure 10, B&R’s Automation Studio provides direct reuse of mapp for a large number of basic applications, because these are common parts of the machine. And C/C++ can be used to provide open development support for “core technology” and “algorithm”, which are all “personal parts” of the machine. And the collaborative development of electromechanical models, which is the part that needs to be explored. Today, in a large number of edge computing and artificial intelligence applications, exOS provides tools and platform support for this kind of software. It enables the control system to use the open resources of the Linux world, such as Python and Java code and engineer resources.
Understand you – solution type
A solution-oriented enterprise is different from a product-oriented enterprise. It must have a global vision of the problem, as well as the accumulation of engineering capabilities, industry knowledge, and professional applications formed during the long-term system-level development process.
Figure 11 – B&R’s software hierarchy
B&R has been in China for more than 20 years and has been committed to the development of vertical industry solutions. Therefore, it has trained a strong engineering service team. And as shown in Figure 11, it has a very strong accumulation in software engineering, industry applications, and module packaging, which ensures the efficiency of providing engineering services.
Formation of a professional team
Almost all of B&R’s sales consultants are mechanical and electrical related majors. Many internal engineers are transferred to work in sales positions. They know mechanical objects very well, so they also have a very deep foundation in mechanical and electrical consulting. As a direct interface with customers, they are divided according to vertical industries, communicate with industry users in the language of the industry, and provide electromechanical control solutions suitable for the industry.
Figure 12 – Professional team and organizational structure
The application engineer team divided according to the vertical industry can quickly grasp the needs of the user’s industry, provide rapid development support, and avoid unnecessary mistakes. In order to improve horizontal capabilities, the Institute of Machine Intelligence will provide common algorithms, electromechanical modeling, and software standardized packaging. In the field of engineering practice, the bottom line barrier is established by experts with more than 15 years, who will assess the risks and problems in the project and avoid the project from going wrong.
Excellent Engineer Training
Since entering China, B&R engineers have been receiving leading engineering training, and have created a pair of perfect capabilities for “machine” development through direct customer development services.
Figure 13 – Professional engineer team
The experience of engineers can reduce the risk of development for users, avoiding “detours” or the risk of “reinventing the wheel”. This is based on good engineering thinking training, user-oriented design thinking training, deconstruction and reconstruction, as well as the use of methods and tools in the testing phase, and a pragmatic attitude.
Avoiding detours and avoiding the overthrow of the structure will reduce the risk of research and development for the enterprise, avoid waste of cost, and create high-quality products that can win the market.
B&R’s EC training (Engineering Camp) is a high-intensity mechanical and electrical engineer training program, which continues to create professional engineers for B&R and its partners. Course modules covering electromechanical control, software specification, communication, project management, and communication are covered. Building engineer capabilities in an all-round way not only provides continuous military support for B&R’s software and services, but also provides capability output for B&R’s partners and users.
Figure 14-Engineer camp to cultivate an excellent engineer team
Professional training is to create engineers with innovative capabilities and strict engineering specifications, reduce the risk of enterprise equipment development, form differentiated competitiveness, and reduce instability.
Software and services become the key to future competitiveness
Today, we are all used to paying for the mobile APPs we buy, and also paying annual fees for iQiyi, Youku Video, and Himalaya—this kind of atmosphere that values software and intellectual property is taking shape. The same is true for the manufacturing industry. Excellent companies are winning customers through excellent services, and also relying on value-added services to obtain new sources of income. Similarly, they are more willing to invest in knowledge from experts, software accumulated by enterprises, and professional services. All of this represents a significant signal that the industry is moving towards high-quality development, and it also represents the industry’s gradual maturity, rationality, and quality of focusing on its own development.
Automation is also innovating with more professional, characteristic and novel services to bring its own unique competitiveness to users. And therefore, building software and service capabilities is becoming the key to sustainable competitiveness in the future.
Pre: Development Status and Direction of m... Next: Siemens electrical products further l...