Machine builders and OEMs face a competitive market for their products, both domestically and worldwide. As manufacturing trends vary significantly from one global region to another, Machine Builders must work to meet the needs of a wide customer base, while offering a product that stands out in a highly competitive market.
So what are some of the ways that machine builders and OEMs can differentiate their products, while still providing high-quality machines? There are many solutions, including offering maintenance and support as a service, providing mobile access to machines, creating better interfaces that display information in actionable formats, and creating HMI applications that allow for more flexibility in integrating with plant systems and changing hardware.
Offering Maintenance and Support as a Service – As machines and embedded devices grow more connected through internet and Cloud Computing, it’s becoming easier to communicate remotely with those machines. This creates an excellent opportunity for machine builders to develop remote HMIs that allow them to offer support and maintenance on their products. By utilizing an HMI such as InduSoft Web Studio, it’s possible to communicate with any number of machines in operation worldwide, and offer support, diagnostics, troubleshooting assistance, and regular maintenance. Offering remote support or monitoring of a customer site opens up entirely new facets of the machine builder market, possible only through the connectivity capabilities that are now ubiquitous.
Providing Mobile Access to Machines – As productivity increases globally, machine operators may be expected to work in several stations along a line, and might require access to monitor or control multiple machines at once, via a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. InduSoft Web Studio is the only HMI platform that offers the ability to create screens for HTML 5 supported browsers within the same development environment. InduSoft Web Studio can be deployed as screens or interactive widgets to any browser that supports HTML 5, including Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Opera, Mozilla Forefox, and more. Giving customers the capability to monitor or interact with a machine, even when they are not physically at the machine offers substantial benefits.
Display Actionable Information in Intuitive Ways – Machine interfaces can offer much more than simple process values. By creating OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) dashboards for applications, machine operators can evaluate a process for its efficiency and make decisions based on information that is graphically displayed in an easy-to-understand context. HMIs capable of showcasing and providing reports for things like material costs, accepted vs. rejected parts, and the optimal speed for quality can vastly improve a machine’s usefulness in manufacturing.
Easy Integration – Customers look for machines that offer the most flexibility to meet current and future demands. Using an HMI platform like InduSoft Web Studio can assist in creating a machine that offers the flexibility to integrate not only with plant systems, but with machine PLCs and controllers. InduSoft Web Studio has a patent for communication with SQL databases, and can communicate with ERP and MES systems inside the plant. In addition, InduSoft Web Studio offers over 240 native communication drivers for every major manufacturer of PLC and controller, as well as supporting OPC protocols. Choosing an HMI platform that makes it easy to connect a machine with other machines on the line, change or add machine components as technology changes, or integrate with other plant systems will greatly increase the value of a machine.