Visible Assets, Inc., a Defense IoT and Industrial IoT company introduces "SmartParts," an M2M, factory automation product. Packaging Machines widely used in the healthcare and consumer products industry often have 5 to 20 change-parts (tools) that enable high volume production for different products. These parts must be correctly installed, during the machine change-over before a production run is activated. If the machine operator makes a change-over mistake and places the wrong part or tool on a machine it can lead to expensive machine damage or costly flawed product runs that must be rejected upon final product quality control. Many RFID and RF-based change-parts ID and tracking systems exist, however, the harsh steel environment leads to unreliable performance. RuBee (IEEE 1902.1) has no RF and uses magnetic signals, so it is not blocked by steel, liquids or humans and has no multipath reflections. RuBee does not have spatial nulls found in RF systems, and it routinely delivers 100% read accuracy with optional tag geolocation in harsh steel environments.
Visible in collaboration with the P&G engineering group has designed RuBee SmartParts for change-parts and metal tooling used on high-speed Packaging Machines. RuBee wireless tags are permanently attached to each change-part with a RuBee Router connected to the machines existing Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and volumetric RuBee antennas placed at strategic locations. Since the RuBee magnetic reads are volumetric, not line-of-site, SmartParts routinely obtains 100% read rates of the tools installed on a machine. SmartParts validates the proper machine set-up after a change-over audit in a matter of 5 to 45 seconds.
"The RuBee wireless technology has proven itself in many other harsh M2M industrial environment applications. We have over 1,800 active automated RuBee industrial worldwide sites installed over the last seven years. These sites use RuBee wireless tags often embedded in steel tools with readers secured on the controlling machines with proven enhanced parts production throughput," said John Stevens, CEO of Visible. "We are grateful for all the help and support we have received from the P&G Corporate Engineering group to develop SmartParts. We are confident that SmartParts will optimize and enhance P&Gs Package Machine throughput, significantly reduce change-over times, and reduce risks of set-up change-over parts errors. The packaging industry has hundreds of machine manufactures, and the SmartParts product is designed to quickly retrofit virtually any Packaging Machine or other production equipment."
The basic SmartParts product includes a single four-channel RuBee Router (the Sidewinder II), in a stainless steel NEMA R3 case, (Figure 1), with up to four volumetric antennas placed on the machine. Unlike barcodes and RF-based systems, RuBee is not line-of-site, it is volumetric (Figure 2) and not blocked by or reflected by steel or the metallic surfaces found in these machines. SmartParts tags can be attached or embedded in the tools and can be optionally equipped with vibration and temperature sensors that report back the health and status of a part.
"Packaging machinery is increasingly complex. More machines include servo drives, integrated robotics, vision systems, machine fault/performance analysis, and communications for integration with line and production management systems with many optional change-parts. Most important for P&G is "machine-readiness" at start-up on our production lines, with all change-parts correctly installed and identified," said Jason Debruler, senior P&G engineer and project lead. "Over the last four years, we have tested many other wireless technologies (e.g. RFID, LEB, ZigBee, Vision) as a change-parts start-up audit solution without much success. Over the last year of testing with RuBee SmartParts on our packaging machines, we are confident that this technology will enable us to completely digitize our change-part verification to advance our machine reliability and eliminate issues due to the wrong change-parts. SmartParts is now a P&G-wide approved product."
SmartParts software runs on the Sidewinder II (the RuBee Router) under a Linux OS and Visible's proprietary Bluefin industrial kernel. The Sidewinder II plus tags provide a fully automatic tool audit prior to start-up. The software is integrated into the Packaging Machines' PLC via the EIP and CIP protocols, with TCP/IP networking and unified on-screen controls and warnings. For more information contact Visible Assets, Inc.