Manufacturing companies are repeatedly faced with the problem that machine and system failures and maintenance cause considerable costs in the form of production downtime. Cable damage or problems with the power supply in particular often do not become noticeable in good time. An innovative, radio-based IoT solution from IMS Connector Systems and MP-SENSOR offers a solution.
The challenge: Downtimes due to unforeseen cable damage and voltage drops
Traditional systems based on outdated connectors and sensors are susceptible to cable damage, which is often not detected in time. Drag chains are often affected, in which the respective cable is bent by a certain radius with every movement and becomes fatigued over time. This can lead to unexpected downtime and associated financial losses.
This problem is exacerbated in complex industrial environments where the monitoring and maintenance of a large number of devices is required. In addition, the lack of integration of sensor data into real-time monitoring systems makes efficient predictive maintenance difficult.
Each sensor also requires a power supply, either through a cable or a battery module. Looking at the applicability of wireless signal transmission, there are situations where the use of a cable is not possible, e.g. when a sensor needs to be attached to a fast-moving part. An illustrative example of this is a pressure sensor in a tire that is used to monitor or regulate the tire pressure. In such cases, a cable connection is not practical. If the signal, e.g. the tire pressure, is to be transmitted to the cockpit of an agricultural machine, the only option is wireless transmission. The smaller and more symmetrical the module, the better.
In modern industry, it is crucial to transmit data efficiently and securely in order to ensure continuous monitoring and control of operational processes. Using outdated systems or systems that are not specifically designed for IoT applications can lead to inefficient processes and security risks. This is particularly relevant when it comes to the transmission of sensitive or critical data.
The solution: SmartMod makes the connector intelligent
The two companies IMS Connector Systems and MP-SENSOR have jointly developed an innovative solution to overcome precisely these challenges.
IMS Connector Systems is an internationally active technology company with a strong research and development department that specializes in solutions in the field of high-frequency connection technology. The product portfolio includes a wide range of coaxial RF connectors, cable assemblies and antenna switches that are specially tailored to M2M and IoT applications.
MP-SENSOR is a manufacturer of sensors for measuring pressure, vacuum and inclination. The company develops innovative products with the latest technologies and provides the optimum sensor for every specific application.
Together, the two partners have developed a solution based on SmartMod. SmartMod is an encapsulated PCB module for an industry-standard M12 connector. The module is equipped with measuring electronics and a Bluetooth interface. It measures voltages, currents and power and calculates the line resistance. The measurements are continuous and provide an up-to-date picture of all parameters at all times. Using the SmartMod in conjunction with the corresponding software, these values can be used to make a statement about the quality or condition of the line. This allows failures and damage to be detected and avoided in good time.
Cabling equipped with SmartMod speeds up fault diagnosis considerably. As each connector has a unique address, its exact position can be stored in the control unit so that the faulty wiring can be found in the shortest possible time.
Cable assemblies with SmartMod can be easily transferred to existing control systems or a Bluetooth gateway. The gateway translates the signals into common fieldbus formats such as Profinet or Profibus. If required, the data is then stored directly in the cloud in a secure manner, which enables location-independent access via a browser.
To make it as easy as possible for customers to implement the SmartMod, IMS has put together four different packages. The SmartMod cable assembly can be ordered individually, without any accessories; alternatively, a Bluetooth gateway or a PLC control unit can also be purchased as part of the package. However, an MQTT broker is also included as an interface in a cloud-based package.
An app is used to analyze the data. In predictive maintenance, IMS works together with ai-omatic solutions to process and analyze the large amount of information generated. With the help of an algorithm and the information collected in real time, it is then possible to carry out predictive maintenance.
The result: System downtimes reduced to a minimum
The system records normal operation and recognizes when a fault is about to occur through minimal deviations. In this way, up to 70 percent of all unplanned downtimes can be prevented.
IMS Connector Systems and MP-SENSOR presented the joint solution to the public for the first time at SPS 2024 in Nuremberg. However, various further developments are already planned for the future, including, for example, the integration of SmartMod into M8 connectors or other standards. The use of AI models is also being considered for data evaluation in order to take predictive maintenance to a new level. A further milestone that the two partners have in mind is energy harvesting, i.e. the wireless and battery-free power supply for the sensor technology.