All-electronics reports about how Actyx wants to "accelerate digitization"
"Accelerating digitization" All-eletronics.de reported in November on how the Actyx developer platform can contribute to the fast and easy digitalisation of manufacturing processes.
This article was originally published in German on the all-electronics.de website. Please follow this link to access the original content.
How Actyx wants to accelerate digitization with its platform
In its application, the platform solution ActyxOS from Actyx offers familiar and proven features, including KPI dashboards. In terms of infrastructure, however, the start-up is breaking new ground.
Actyx's credo is 'Making digitization projects quick and easy to implement'. To this end, the young company has developed ActyxOS, a platform solution based on edge computing that creates a framework designed to make productions digitally workable quickly. But what is behind it?
As the underlying infrastructure, ActyxOS is installed on computers (tablets, scanners, gateway, industrial PC, ...) on the shop floor. Also, the platform can be installed directly on controllers running on Linux. For most controllers, ActyxOS cannot be installed directly; in this case, users install the platform on a gateway that is mounted in the control cabinet and physically connected to the PLC. ActyxOS then automatically connects to all ActyxOS computers on the local network via WLAN or LAN. Apps running on the platform then take care of reading out the machine data via available protocols such as OPC UA, S7 or Modbus. The apps then send this data to ActyxOS, which also runs locally on the computer. The platform in turn takes care of distributing and storing the data between other devices, with ActyxOS enabling communication within 20-200 ms - depending on the app and hardware. There are also apps that display the collected data in KPI dashboards, offer alarm functions and much more, such as simple solutions for collecting data from machines and workers, intelligent worker assistance apps for setup and maintenance processes, or apps that analyze sensor data to detect quality defects in the machine. Complex applications such as the control of driverless transport systems and networking with production machines are also possible.
Development environment for apps
To access the apps, there are several options: Either users access apps from Actyx, program them themselves or look around the growing app store (see box). In addition to the Edge platform, the provider develops developer tools for programming apps (programming framework Actyx Pond and SDKs) and for managing Edge devices (Actyx CLI, Actyx Node Manager). The platform makes work easier for app developers by offering features such as redundant data storage, automatic data distribution, uniform runtime environments across different device classes and integrated developer tools for programming, installing and operating apps. In addition, the startup is working on a cloud-based management app that will make it possible to run a complete solution from the cloud. Currently, data can also be sent to the cloud via apps on ActyxOS - but this is not a must. With Actyx, payment is made via a licensing model per end device on which the platform runs.
Pilot projects show efficiency
Klöckner, a distributor of steel and metal products, is one example of how the system looks in practice. Klöckner uses ActyxOS to record its operational and machine data, visualize data via dashboards on the store floor and make it accessible for detailed data analysis options in the back office. The company's goal is to digitize its entire steel and metal distribution supply chain. The initial focus is on optimizing customers' procurement processes.
The company manufactures its products individually according to customer requirements, which increases product diversity and the overall complexity of manufacturing. Access to real-time and historical machine data is important for accurate costing and effective management of manufacturing processes and resource allocation. However, Klöckner has not previously recorded machine data, which has made it impossible to calculate the exact cost of each product. The fact that a large number of different machines are used in the processes makes data collection even more difficult. In addition, data must be accurately linked to production orders to provide meaningful insights and made easily accessible for data analysis across production sites.
Digitization of machines and auxiliaries
For all these projects, Actyx has implemented a solution on its platform at Klöckner that provides visibility into machine performance and order progress. It consists of:
an app running on tablets installed at each workstation,
a machine data collection application running on gateways connected to the PLCs of the production machines,
KPI dashboards on monitors installed at each workstation,
a reporting application that is accessible from desktop computers
and an interface to SAP running in the local data center.
Employees use the tablet application to start and stop jobs at the workstation, log material quantities, report interruption reasons and report jobs as completed. In addition, employees can make target/actual comparisons on the KPI dashboards at the machines to get clear goals and feedback. Work preparation and operations management can view machine and operational data for each job in real time at any time, as well as compare and analyze it with historical data.