Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Wireless technologies in production today

Remember those pesky trailing communication cables? Not only were they often damaged or disconnected but they required frequent maintenance and were responsible for a lot of unexpected downtime.


By Digital Transformation Leader for ANZ Jozef Ceh. 

Fast-forward to 2011 at the legendary Hannover Fair in Germany where the words ‘Industry 4.0’ were first uttered, and more recently to the innovations that have taken the manufacturing sector to unimaginable heights.

The industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade and its set to continue. For many businesses, both locally and abroad, smart factories have brought renewed focus to industrial networking capabilities. Newer communication protocols and technologies such as   EtherNet/IP, RFID and Bluetooth are certainly making their presence known on the factory floor. Wireless is invaluable in any industry or application that makes regular use of motion applications with communication cables. Add to this the demand for wireless technologies in robot and cobot applications which is rapidly increasing year-on-year.

Get to Know the EX600-W

SMC’s answer to wireless technologies comes in the form of the recently launched EX600-W fieldbus system. It is designed in response to the ever-growing need for reliable, wireless communication technologies on the factory floor. The system allows industrial businesses to achieve consistent, noise-free communication. Data is encrypted and is quick to connect and modify.

This innovative flexibility means less cables, maintenance, breakage, and disconnection issues on the factory floor. The EX600-W’s communication with remote units can begin in as little as 250 ms. The base unit is connected to a standard industrial Ethernet connection such as Ethernet/IP or PROFINET. The base can wirelessly communicate and control up to 127 remote units in a range of up to 10 metres.

These remote units can be fitted onto analogue, digital, and pneumatic equipment to provide control functionality of I/O and valves. The system has one IP address, so it boasts decentralised point-to-multipoint communication.

Cabling choices

There are two main types of cabling used in modern industrial settings: copper and fibre optic (FO) cables. Traditionally, copper cabling has been favoured in the factory setting but more recently there have been a few shortfalls and safety concerns.

Firstly, it is limited in the volume of data flow that it can allow – something that will become increasingly troublesome as Industry 4.0 technologies continue to develop. Secondly, it can present a spark risk if damaged which makes it unsafe. Finally, its inherently susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI) from other industrial applications.

FO cabling overcomes many of these problems. It boasts data transmission speeds of up to 10 Gbps and can be used for much longer runs of up to 2km. In addition, FO cables addresses concerns around safety risks, but it is important to note that is more expensive and requires a specialist to assist with the installation.

EX600-W and (OEE)

What is overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)?

When designing products in the modern world of manufacturing, SMC looks to the term ‘OEE’. More than a buzzword, OEE acts a key metric to measure the performance of your production processes. The focus is on losses in production and can be categorise as follows: availability, performance, and quality.

Availability × Performance × Quality, or (Good Count × Ideal Cycle Time)/ Planned Production Time.

We are proud to say that the EX600-W meets these requirements and plays a crucial role in the uptime of plants around the continent.


About SMC

Founded over 60 years ago, SMC operates in 83 countries, employing 19,000 people across the globe. It has an R&D engineering team of 1,450 and an 8,200-strong sales force, who are experts in their field and enjoy a close working relationship with SMC’s customers. To deliver automation solutions for its diverse customer base, SMC offers more than 12,000 basic products with over 700,000 variations. SMC is the world’s leading pneumatics provider and has been voted for three consecutive years as one of the most innovative global companies by leading business magazine, Forbes and is listed in the FORBES Global 2000 as one of the world’s largest public companies.

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For editorial inquiries contact Rene Rose or M +61 474 476344.

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