Bolt-on Digitizer for Measuring Operational Equipment Efficiency on Legacy Systems
How can you improve your business’s manufacturing efficiency if you have no way to track and record your system as it pushes your product through your manufacturing lines? A company that develops and distributes health monitoring systems was searching for a way to collect data on their manufacturing line. This would allow them to capture valuable operational data and see trends in test length, providing an accurate reading of their production efficiency. By reviewing this data, they would be able to see opportunities for warehouse improvement as well as any unintended equipment downtime that could potentially slow down effectiveness. Cyth was up for the challenge of developing this system to fit inside a small aluminum box, and leveraged Circaflex to power the digitizer.
Client Request & Cyth Solution The client wanted the system to be a bolt on digitizer, attached to their existing application with a screen that could display various units of measurement depending on the product line it was assigned to. The digitizer would be able to serve an array of manufacturing lines, not just one specific product. Cyth got to work designing and constructing the digitizer, along with a custom integrated LabVIEW-based software application and Graphical User Interface (GUI) to handle system control, threshold configuration and operator interaction.
The digitizer would be built inside a 570 square inch aluminum box that takes in digital and analog signals and then records timestamps to measure items such as start and stop time, the client’s unit information and other lag times that could interfere with production. It also needed to be designed with a configuration page where an operator could set system parameters such as I/O count, set-up of each channel for name, type, and scaling, as well as start and stop triggers. All these parameters needed to be based on either state change or analog thresholds. It also needed to allow configuration for barcode reading, and data needed to be recorded locally and inserted into a remote manufacturing database over the client’s network to collect and record for each acquisition. Once configured by an operator, the system needed to operate as a headless application.
Cyth’s team assembled the aluminum box that would fit all the necessary hardware inside. The client was presented with a footprint containing measured flanges for bolting the digitizer on. Once the client had approved of the design, Cyth’s engineers installed Circaflex inside the box in order to minimize space. Accessible connectors were installed so that the client could easily add any additional sensors in the future. The box featured a small embedded PC with a custom User Interface (UI) that was easy to read and understand, would run automatically when the digitizer was powered on, and had been programmed with the ability to save configurations as it was used.
Challenge Though custom programming would take more time, Cyth recommended using their mezzanine board Circaflex as the embedded controller. Circaflex leverages National Instruments’ Single-Board RIO and would allow the customer future scalability not only in I/O, but with more available space within the box as well. Instead of a built-in Windows DAQmx driver (if programming on the cRIO), Cyth engineers had to write and build FPGA and RT code from scratch. This meant more programming was required and resulted in more time being spent writing code than originally anticipated. It was also challenging to fit everything into the box tightly and compactly, so the engineering team had to get creative with stacking items inside.
Outcome Once the bolt on digitizer was installed and configured on the client’s manufacturing floor, they could begin to track and record data surrounding production line efficiency. They were thrilled with Cyth’s easy-to-use digital interface and once a configuration was set and saved, the system no longer required an operator. The client is looking forward to analyzing their collected data in order to increase the efficiency of their engineering processes, boost production performance, and save them manufacturing time and money down the road.
Technical Specifications • Black Aluminum Box 12.087" L x 10.118" W (307.00mm x 257.00mm) X 4.764" (121.00mm) • Circaflex 315 (920-00315-04) • X1 Custom Made Front Panel • X4 Analog In M12 A Code Female • X4 Digital In M12 D Code Female • X1 Ethernet RJ45 • X2 USB 2.0 Panel-Mount • X1 HDMI Panel-Mount • X1 24V Power Supply • X1 Industrial Embedded Computer • Power Switch • X3 LEDs (Database, Run, & Event)