Retrofitting for Brownfield Systems with TinyAutomator
It's time to solve a real-life issue you have in your production line! 🏭
First of all, check out our Introduction to TinyAutomator tutorial to have the stack installed on your compatible hardware. It's time to solve a real-life issue you have in your production line!
In the industrial environment, a production line has a life expectancy between 10 and 30 years, varying from one domain to another with the conditions in the facility, the frequency and quality of maintenance procedures and use time.
As time passes and technologies become obsolete, equipping old machinery with new functional extensions like electrical consumption monitoring, temperature and cycle speed measurement and wireless connectivity ensures the rentability of the machine and the competitiveness of the production line in the long run.
If you have more production lines in your factory chances are they were bought in batches and while the new ones have all the data collected in neat dashboards, the old ones simply do not have the sensors to gather all that data. Identifying these blind spots will be the first task in retrofitting the system to bring it up to speed with current technology.
Our use case 🏭
The facility in which we deployed this device is equipped with numerous plastic extruders and while most are less than 5 years old, some of them have been pushing out plastic for longer than 20 years and monitoring their running parameters is critical in making them fit in with the newer equipment.
Our machinery is a KME 75-36 B/R single-screw extruder from 2007 by KraussMaffei.
We want to track a few more temperatures in certain areas of the extruder based on the feedback from the employees and trigger an automatic response based on it via a relay.
Because of the sheer length of the machine, we opted for making the hardware components connect wirelessly and send data through MQTT.
Things used in this project
Power supply (12-24V and > 1.5A)×1NTC Temperature Sensor×3
Software apps and online services
Hand tools and fabrication machines
Hardware requirements 🧰
- Industrial Shields RPI based PLC - running a TinyAutomator instance
- WiFi-enabled data gathering modules/relay module - We've used a NORVI IIOT ESP32 Based Industrial Controller (NORVI-IIOT-AE02-V)
- NTC Temperature sensors
Data gathering 📊
For our use case, we had to monitor the temperature at different points on the production line.
We accomplished this with NTC based sensors that were read by a NORVI-IIOT-AE02-V that sends the data over MQTT to the TinyAutomator concentrator that based on the readings takes the decisions and acts accordingly.
You can find the code attached for the sensors being read and sent to the concentrator (the ReadNTC10k_SendMqtt.ino file from the Github repository).
Low-code programming 💻
Open your TinyAutomator instance in your browser and go to the Resources tab. You will see the resource already created if you succeeded in sending the data over MQTT in the previous step.
Now go to Templates, click the arrow next to the Add template button, then click Upload template and add the following template that we have created that you can adjust according to your needs (the ActuatorExample.json file from the Github repository):
As you can see, when the TinyAutomator receives a temperature value over 24 over MQTT it triggers an automatic response from the relay module that starts the actuator to signal the threshold detection.
Trigger handling 🚀
Here is the code for the relay module based on the same NORVI-IIOT-AE02-V module used for data gathering in the first step SubscribeMqtt_DeserializeJson_TriggerRelay.ino file from the Github repository).
While you could do this logic directly on the PLC updating it in the future or logging it could be cumbersome, especially when dealing with multiple devices or long distances between measure points.
What’s next? 🚀
While this is a simple example of how you can retrofit an existing machine or production line with needed functionality, of course, if needed, even direct integration with the PLC of the machinery can be done.
We have other tutorials from which you can learn to use TinyAutomator for industrial use-cases:
- Predictive Maintenance with TinyAutomator
- Quality Assurance with TinyAutomator