SaaS for Manufacturing: I/Link

Efficient manufacturing data management has become important in today’s globalized manufacturing environment having long supply chain and distributed facilities extending across political boundaries. Numerous manufacturers have begun searching for ways to improve system and equipment availability, traceability, and real-time production monitoring while reducing the cost of operations. A major contributor to increased cost, inferior quality, and reduced system utilization is unplanned outages, non-integrated processes, and redundant capital/infrastructure cost. There is a need for a real-time manufacturing data management system which is not only cost effective, but also flexible enough to accommodate various technical requirements and changing business processes. The manufacturing world is significantly lagging behind with respect to real-time manufacturing data management.

I/Link is a cloud computing based machine controller integrated data management system for manufacturing. It is implemented on an open architecture constant velocity Revolution MTI controller. I/Link enables efficient production monitoring and real time decision support system for process optimization and scrap reduction. All the data collection and cloud communication is accomplished by the Data Transportation Utility integrated within the Revolution controller. The I/Gear Data Transportation Utility (DTU) is a middleware software product that is designed to make integration easier by moving data between dissimilar devices and systems. The data is compressed & encrypted before sending it to the cloud. I/Link can be accessed from any internet browser with proper login credential. The software as a service (SaaS) paradigm decreases the cost exponentially.

Benefits to the Machine Tool vendor:
The development of an integrated production monitoring system, as a service, provides a huge after-sales market for the machine tool builder in addition to extended business opportunities and improved customer satisfaction. Machine tool builders will be able to monitor their machine performance, type of machining activity, alarms, and failures to make changes to improve the machine performance and reduce warranty cost. The after-sales market would include maintenance contracts and production monitoring offered as a service. By monitoring critical data parameters, the machine tool builder can inform the customer of impending service/maintenance requirements that minimize the machine downtime. Additionally, the data collected can drive business intelligence, create a competitive advantage, and provide leads to marketing and sales. For example, if a manufacturer has all of his machines running at full capacity, then the facility is positioned to add a new machine to balance the load.

Benefits to the end-user include:
• Calculation of utility consumption of machines
• Maintenance cost closely related to cause and effect
• Process compliance assurance
• Improved operator productivity
• Integrated approach to security that covers networks, machine, wireless and wired sensors, and data to protect critical operations
• Improved quality and higher factory throughput
• Flexible and hierarchy-customized alert management system
• Reduced cycle time and downtime
• Demand-driven manufacturing
• Better scheduling and resource management
• Faster problem resolution
• Support of Six Sigma, lean, and green initiatives with dependable information.