Muda, in Japanese, means waste—specifically any human activity which absorbs resources but creates no value: mistakes which require rectification, production of items no one wants so that inventories and remaindered goods pile up, processing steps which aren’t actually needed, movement of employees and transport of goods from one place to another without any purpose [….] and goods and services which don’t meet the needs of customers.

Lean Thinking, Banish Waste And Create Wealth In Your Corporation
James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones

That brilliant quote encapsulates one of the most heartfelt and impassioned goals of the manufacturing industry. No waste. At the time Lean Thinking was first published, it became a textbook for how to properly and efficiently manufacture goods. To this day, it’s highly regarded in the industry.

Thankfully, though, automation supported by industrial Ethernet is addressing many of the problems that Lean Thinking calls to light. Smart technologies have removed the potential for human error and thus waste, while also speeding things up as well as making them happen round the clock without the need for manual processes.

The industrial Ethernet also allows machine builders and users to improve their productive capabilities by removing obstacles to installation. By transmitting power and data over a single Cat5e, Cat6, or Cat6A Ethernet Cable, industrial Power over Ethernet (PoE) simplifies the process of getting smart plant-floor technologies connected and making the manufacturing process more efficient.

These days, industrial operators are turning to PoE technology for a host of benefits. Ethernet provides increased productivity, process reliability improvements, and other valuable advantages, including plant floor security.

In this blog, Planet Technology USA will take a quick look at some of the ways industrial Ethernet enables greater manufacturing effectiveness.

Traditional Nodes Shifting to Those with Data Collection Capabilities

Plant managers are shifting from the use of DeviceNet, PROFIBUS, and Modbus fieldbuses and are increasingly taking advantage of valuable data-gathering opportunities. Newly installed nodes are becoming more PoE prevalent with the use of Ethernet/IP and PROFINET protocols.Annual Protocol Growth Rate

NOTE: A fieldbus is a computer network protocol used in real-time industrial automation systems, such as an assembly line. They are a complex, organized hierarchy of controllers that synchronize the manufacturing process.

According to one survey, the PoE options are overtaking traditional node installations by ten basis points. In the same study, the annual growth rate for Ethernet protocols is 22 percent, versus 6 percent for traditional fieldbus protocols.

Data Supported Manufacturing Operations

Operational technology is improving performance by helping manufacturing evolve with greater granularity. Though good, traditional fieldbus does not provide the levels of relevant, real-time data required to become more competitive in current markets.

These massive, real-time data resources allow machine learning and artificial intelligence to cull valuable insights that help plant managers and operations floor leaders fine-tune things at so many levels.

Reams of production data secured from smart devices are fed through sophisticated analytics packages, and allow them to identify tweaks that can optimize yields and lower operating costs substantially. Others are collecting and archiving quality data that can assist with regulatory compliance or liability protection efforts.

Many aspects of manufacturing are experiencing improvement through the expansion that intelligence capabilities harvest from PoE supported technologies.

Smart Manufacturing

Increased regulatory compliance – through the use of cross-platform connectivity, plant managers have greater control over schedules and changes in technical, legal, and regulatory requirements. Tracking practices within the plant are easier including product safety improvement implementations.

Increased uptime – through predictive equipment maintenance, processes may be automatically monitored with alerts sent.

Increased productivity – demand forecasting and statistical modeling help keep raw materials and finished inventory levels right.

Data collection is the starting point that allows analytics to draw insights, which inform improvements. New developments in IEEE 802.3 are also advancing data bandwidth and speeds, and providing a platform for fast real-time transfer.

Industrial Ethernet Solutions Increase Data Speeds

Connectivity increases traceability, pinpoints problems, improves visibility across platforms, and removes blind spots, so resources free up for other priorities like planning. Ethernet OT networks are gaining adoption and market capture means more money is being funneled into development.

More Data Capability

Ethernet is becoming faster and capturing more and more data. Moving into Industrial Ethernet allows operators to communicate data significantly faster with more throughput while it’s being generated.

Millisecond Response Times

Machine to machine communication is vital to production floors, and industrial Ethernet allows faster response times. The ability to respond in milliseconds can potentially add up to greater productivity.

Vendor Neutrality

Since industrial PoE technologies are subject to IEEE standards, they are constructed to be compatible with pre-existing equipment installations. So, any equipment purchases being added to current manufacturing plant systems should be plug and play.

Ethernet/IP and PROFINET technologies aren’t the only things expanding in capabilities. The PoE networks supporting them are too.

PoE Technology Developments

PoE technology is also improving in its own right. It is capable of faster speeds and higher bandwidth now than it was five years ago. The introduction of advancements within PoE networking is moving in tandem with the development of the powered devices (PD) it supports. That means greater sophistication and a more extensive range of implementations are becoming available.

Approximately 20 different protocols exist for Industrial Ethernet based on the IEEE 802.3 standard. Industrial Ethernet and TCP/IP protocols provide consistent, real-time protocol-based communication that flows seamlessly with automation processes.

Automation relies on insights that also enable the execution of business operations and delivery of programmed output. Both are achieved with minimal or no human-machine interaction. Such cyber-physical environments are founded on IIoT (the Industrial Internet of Things), machine learning, and artificial intelligence. They are the foundations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is basically adding ‘intelligence’ into the manufacturing process.

Concluding Thoughts

Lean outcomes are the result of lean thinking and implementation. The use of cameras to watch how operations teams performed had been going on for decades since before the first edition of Womack’s and Jones’ book. Though still in use, cameras failed to capture certain data that machines are capturing now, largely due to automation and the IIoT.

Industrial Ethernet is facilitating a level of transparency and leanness that the authors only dreamed about when Lean Thinking was written.

Please visit our product page for more information on PLANET Technology’s industrial Ethernet products.