Middleware for Machine Building and Industrial Automation
The machine building sector is just beginning to realize the power of middleware platforms. More and more manufacturers are beginning to use this flexible method of system integration. RST can help you make the change.
Three Reasons for Using Middleware in Modern Machine Building
1. Competition and Cost Pressure
Modern machines and manufacturing sites are growing in complexity. The pressure of the competition (especially from Asia) is growing constantly. The market is demanding ever more modern, capable and efficient machines with contemporary man machine interfaces - and all that at low cost of course! Machine builders are feeling the strain. We can help you withstand the pressure!
2. Technological Upheavals
Especially in the days of "Industry 4.0", a seemingly unbridgeable chasm between classic PLC programming and modern IT methods is beginning to show. Proponents of either method often shy away from the idea of "switching sides". The reasons listed for this hesitation are manifold: high development expenditures, impossible to gauge followup costs, loss of PLC or high-level language know-how that has been accumulated over many years, etc. But in the long run there will be no way around merging both concepts, since modern machines are subject to demands that can not be fulfilled otherwise. For example, they are expected to be able to autonomously network and interlink, or offer services to communicate with either local or internet based cloud data. Further topics like quality improvement through test and simulation, remote maintenance and fast startup operations are gaining more and more importance.
Based on our middleware platform Gamma V, these requirements and demands can be met with ease and at low cost.
3. New Tools, New Methods
The Gamma V platform offered by RST GmbH offers a wide range of existing tools for high-level languages and PLC programming, model based development, visualization, test and simulation. The available hardware choices are broadened by the platform's abstraction abilities. This not only makes repairs and upgrades on aging facilities easier, but also dissolves dependencies on specific hardware suppliers, which can lead to immense cost reductions. Especially the wide availability of small, cost efficient embedded modules for all purposes (from miniaturized single board computers to highly specialized I/O components like emBRICK) makes this flexibility highly desirable from a cost standpoint.
Plug-ins are available that connect Gamma V to nearly all currently established field buses and industry protocols. With our interfaces for OPC-UA, MQTT and DDS we also offer easy interconnection with modern production networks.
Visualization solutions facilitate the development of modern human machine interfaces. Gamma's comprehensive simulation functionality means starting software development can start even before the mechanics are finalized by programming by reference to a virtual model of the machine or manipulating real world signals. This allows automating tests and testing extreme edge cases that aren't possible with or would severely damage the actual machine. This innovative method also pays off in regards to certification, startup procedures and maintenance.
Gamma V - The Heart of the Modern Machine
One special success story for RST has been our cooperation with the German machine builder Hefter Maschinenbau GmbH. In 2013, Hefter presented a new grinding machine with controls based on Gamma V. During its development, we could already put into action big parts of our new, seminal concepts for machine building. Thanks to the straightforward visualization interface, the whole machine is now completely controlled via touchscreen. The flexibility of Gamma's abstraction layer allowed basing the controls on an ARM based embedded module and handling most of the sensors through low-priced EtherCAT terminals. In combination, all these innovations significantly lowered the cost of the machine - both expenses during development and actual cost per unit in mass production.
As an example for plant engineering and construction, in 2013 we retrofitted the complete control system of a high rack warehouse for Bayer AG. Here too, the flexibility of Gamma V paid off by using cost effective small I/O hardware. The biggest feat, however, was that the use of our middleware allowed us to complete the on site changeover of the facility in record time - with a downtime of only a few hours. A new, clearer and more user friendly user interface was the icing on the cake.
You can find more examples for system controls by RST in our references section.
More details on using Gamma V for machine building can also be found in our information sheet "Building Intelligent Machines With Service Oriented Controls" in the download area.