Let’s review. Previous articles
have discussed the need for device monitoring tools in the IIoT/Industry 4.0 world. Unfortunately, implementing those traditional monitoring tools creates additional problems since they are typically homogeneous in their support; meaning they only monitor devices from a particular vendor. The inconvenient result of this is multiple tools monitoring different devices that do not talk to each other or consolidate data.
Enter Yaskawa Cockpit™ – a new monitoring solution for the integrated factory of today. Out of the box, this software platform is a tool for monitoring and visualizing the status, performance and health of connected Yaskawa robots. A standard browser interface presents the information necessary to understand how valuable resources on the factory floor are performing, and it helps plan typical system functions.
The Value of Extensibility
At first glance, Yaskawa Cockpit
could fall into the same trap as other solutions – a proprietary tool that talks to specific devices – however, it easily avoids this snare. This software tool is extensible with the ability to collect all operational data in real time that is generated by factory devices. Use case examples include:
- Collecting health data from device controllers to share it with another system
- Gathering data to forward certain information to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or Manufacturing Enterprise System (MES)
- Generating data for additional reporting or analysis using query or analytical tools
These actions are facilitated with Open Platform Communication – United Architecture (OPC UA) compatibility, which allows other systems to connect to Yaskawa Cockpit and access the data that is being managed by the software platform. Using industry standard communication protocols, external systems throughout the factory or the extended enterprise work as client applications to Yaskawa Cockpit’s server. These applications request data from the software tool and can then process, store or analyze that data as needed to further extend the functionality of the system.
Furthermore, Yaskawa Cockpit helps to solve the disparity created with heterogeneous devices throughout the factory. While native Yaskawa Cockpit monitors Yaskawa robots, manufacturers can use Add-on Functions to monitor other non-Yaskawa devices. With Yaskawa Cockpit as the core, supported functions connect to external devices and collect status, health and performance data that Yaskawa Cockpit does not. Use examples include:
- Safety components
- Smart conveyors
- PLC activity
Yaskawa provides a Software Development Kit (SDK) for creating Add-on Functions by anyone familiar with communications-based Windows® programs. Furthermore, guidance and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) on how to store data into the Yaskawa Cockpit database are provided, including how to use Yaskawa Cockpit to visualize it within the standard User Interface. Sample programs are also provided for reference.
The Complete “Building Block” Solution
Next generation monitoring devices, like Yaskawa Cockpit, are primed to assist with the uptick in manufacturing complexity ignited by greater consumer demand and Industry 4.0 technologies. Utilizing an extensible monitoring device that enables a higher level of flexibility, speed and accuracy – in production and throughout the supply chain – is key to withstanding rising market pressures while achieving tangible outcomes. Furthermore, manufacturers of all sizes in diverse industries are realizing that having a unique tool that monitors the status, health and performance of robots and other heterogeneous devices in real time is the ideal building block solution, connecting and monitoring an entire enterprise.
Keith Vozel is a Product Manager, Software at Yaskawa America, Inc. - Motoman Robotics Division