Fanuc is developing a machine-to-machine network that will connect just about every piece of equipment in a manufacturing plant.
The Fanuc Intelligent Edge Link and Drive (Field) system is an industrial internet of things network that will be aimed at automakers.
Fanuc already provides General Motors with a global IIoT platform to manage and maintain the automakers’ robots.
Fanuc says its new Field system will not only connect industrial robots and computer numerical control machines (CNCs), but also peripheral devices and sensors.
This pervasive connectivity will enable the delivery of analytics that will “optimize manufacturing production”, says Fanuc, which is the world’s largest industrial robot manufacturer by installations.
Fanuc is collaborating with three other companies to develop the Field system:
- Cisco, the networking equipment giant;
- Rockwell Automation, said to be the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information solutions; and
- Preferred Networks, a provider of artificial intelligence solutions.
The companies will work together on the development and deployment of the Field system, which will provide “advanced analytics” for Fanuc CNCs, robots, peripheral devices, and sensors used in automation systems.
The analytics can be monitored and analysed by human workers through a computer to see which machines need servicing, maintenance of replacement.
Fanuc says Field will drive improved machine reliability, quality, flexibility, and speed – elevating the overall equipment efficiency and increasing manufacturing profitability. It will also provide advanced machine learning and deep learning capabilities.
By working with Cisco, Rockwell Automation, and Preferred Networks – Fanuc plans to offer a complete solution including network and compute infrastructure, applications, and an enabling middleware platform.
With this open platform – application developers, sensor and peripheral device makers, system integrators, and others can build solutions that improve equipment efficiency, manufacturing output, and quality.
Extension of current successes
The Field system extends the existing Fanuc ZDT (zero downtime) connected robots project. ZDT is built with Cisco cloud, IoT data collection software, and end-to-end security capabilities.
The companies are working together to implement systems for major automotive manufacturers by leveraging the Allen-Bradley Stratix Ethernet switches from Rockwell Automation to connect robots to a Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) – all of this running on Fanuc and Cisco’s ZDT Data Collection software.
Automotive customers who have implemented this system are quickly realizing a significant decrease in production downtime as well as increased cost savings, says Fanuc.
The Field system will bring the power of advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence into the hands of customers and application developers – driving manufacturing to a new level of productivity and efficiency.
Fanuc and Preferred Networks have established these new technologies for applications such as bin-picking robots, anomaly detection, and failure prediction.
The Field system combines both artificial intelligence and edge-computing technologies – enabling distributed learning. Data is generated from robots and machines and is processed in real time at the edge of the network.
This allows those devices to intelligently coordinate and collaborate in a flexible manner – resulting in sophisticated manufacturing practices not before possible.
Who provides what for the Field system?
Fanuc: Provides CNCs and robots with embedded sensors to track key variables required to improve machine reliability, quality, and speed.
Fanuc, Cisco and Preferred Networks: Provides enabling middleware Platform Software, as well as security and application lifecycle management applications. It will also leverage Preferred Networks’ open deep learning framework (Chainer), IoT Stream Engine (SensorBee) – and other advanced machine learning libraries within its Deep Intelligence in-Motion (DIMo) platform.
Cisco and Rockwell Automation: Provides networking, compute and security infrastructure to connect the robots, CNCs, and other cell equipment to the Field applications.
Based on the Rockwell Automation and Cisco collaboratively developed Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE) architecture – this further drives improved security, connectivity, flexibility, and scalability – all of which allows connection from a single, small cell to a large factory with hundreds of cells.
Fanuc, Rockwell Automation and Preferred Networks: delivers the initial application software on top of the Field middleware and infrastructure platform.
This will extend the Link-i and ZDT applications currently deployed, along with additional deep learning applications from the Fanuc and Preferred Networks partnership.
It is planned that Rockwell Automation manufacturing software products (including FactoryTalk View, FactoryTalk VantagePoint, and FactoryTalk Production Center) will seamlessly integrate with the Field system to speed deployment.