Networked Data Management - The key to predictive maintenance in Automated Production

Networked Data Management - The key to predictive maintenance in Automated Production
AUVESY GmbH & Co KG (Germany) – In the field of automated production, changes and improvements are made to production processes on a regular basis in order to maximise productivity, efficiency and product quality. However, making changes to control programs is far from risk-free, and errors that may affect the reliability and quality of the production process can occur at any time. To solve this problem, intelligent data management systems are used to manage and safeguard key project data. By organising data with 100% clarity at a centralised data storage location and enabling users to carry out predictive maintenance, the data management system helps to keep a plant fully operational.

It is in this key area that the data management system versiondog has established itself as market leader. With versiondog, users in production and maintenance can benefit from a truly all-in-one solution that offers version control, automated backup and the ability to document data from a wide range of controllers and automation devices in a single, manufacturer-independent system. With constant access to a plant's most recent software version at a centralised location, improvements and modifications can be carried out quickly and efficiently.

All changes are documented in the change history along with a comment explaining why each change was made. versiondog not only records changes made by the plant's own personnel, but also documents changes made by external service providers or plant manufacturers. Unwanted program changes are also recorded, whether they occurred by accident, through ignorance or on purpose (e.g. cyber attacks). The system therefore ensures complete documentation and even helps the user prepare for audits by providing the required documents.

The recently released versiondog 4.0 introduces many enhancements and new features with a particular emphasis on Industry 4.0.

Greater flexibility through web server integration:
The versiondog system now features an integrated web server for the very first time. This is part of the standard setup and can be activated in the server settings with a simple click. Users can then view reports compiled by the versiondog ReportClient via their browser from any location and using any device.

The most common web browsers are supported (IE, Chrome, Safari, Firefox). With new report formats, more filtering and sorting options and touch screen support, versiondog is more user-friendly than ever before. If further evaluation is required (e.g. in Excel), all reports can now be downloaded as a CSV file via the browser.

Improved integration of automation devices:
Manufacturer independence is one of the key features of versiondog. The device integration is continually being improved to offer the widest range of support for automation systems on the market. With this in mind, the latest editors for devices that are already supported by versiondog, such as PCS7 V8.2, RS Logix5000 V28, CitectSCADA V7.50 and InTouch V11.1, will also be integrated into the software.

The range of supported automation devices has also been expanded to include SEW frequency converters, GE Proficy ME, Siemens SCALANCE switches, Mitsubishi robots and Kistler process monitors.

Predictive maintenance with versiondog Factory Floor Status:
One completely new feature of versiondog 4.0 is versiondog Factory Floor Status. This add-on helps the user create a comprehensive data management strategy to facilitate predictive maintenance and ensure sustainable production quality. With web server integration, device information that is spread out across an entire production facility can be quickly accessed from anywhere in the network. Furthermore, Factory Floor Status shows the current status of automatic backup and compare jobs and the results of comparisons with the latest version of the program on the versiondog system. Device-specific monitors also ensure complete clarity by displaying production-related information for every device. With the colour coding system (red/yellow/green), it is easy to evaluate the situation and take the necessary action. The system dashboard also provides key information such as control panel numbers (e.g. MLFB numbers), RAM usage, battery status, cycle time overruns and forced values. One particularly useful feature is the ability to quickly check the firmware version currently installed on an automation device. With versiondog 4.0, Factory Floor Status will initially provide support for SIMATIC S7 (Siemens) in particular.

Firmware and more - automated data management instead of manual searches:
Factory Floor Status was born out of customer requests and the desire to clearly see which firmware versions are running on which devices. The initial requirement was to minimise the workload associated with SIMATIC S7 firmware updates and make the update process more efficient in general. Updates that eliminate bugs, for example, are rolled out on a regular basis, and each time the same questions are asked: "Which firmware and hardware is installed on which PLCs? Which devices will be affected by the update?" Up to now, this information had to be recorded manually using Excel tables. This meant, of course, that the data had to be updated by hand every time a new update was announced. Depending on the number of PLCs and CPUs installed in the facility, this could be a long and arduous process. With Factory Floor Status, these recurring costs can now be easily avoided in networked production facilities. The system lists all controllers together with their associated MLFB numbers and their current firmware and hardware status. Users can also search for specific MLFB or control panel numbers, which saves time and prevents errors that may occur when outdated firmware goes unnoticed. The automated display of information also prevents errors caused by manual transcription or by information being read incorrectly.

Screenshot of versiondog Factory Floor Status with monitor view

Besides that, the Factory Floor Status add-on provides even more production-related information that further increases efficiency and saves both time and money. The ability to check the battery status of devices, for example, helps to prevent data loss if a power outage occurs. The constant warnings whenever forced values have been set act as an automatic reminder until these settings are reset as planned.

Information on RAM usage and cycle times also helps to proactively optimise processes and facilitates plant monitoring. These values can be used when the plant is being constructed and during plant expansion to identify unnoticed errors or exceeded limit values. Using this information, the plant engineer can then decide where to install alternative controllers/CPUs and where adjustments and performance improvements need to be made.

The fact that the system shows the current status of backups alongside this new device information is another huge user benefit. At the start of a shift, the plant personnel can therefore see if any changes were made during the previous shift. If there are any errors or uncertainties, changes can be tracked, localised and checked immediately. Complete clarity and maximum data availability saves time and frees up resources for improvements and new maintenance tasks.

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