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Safety of standard PLC control validated yet again



‘VDW Project of the Year’ accolade awarded for outstanding study

Photo (from left to right): Sven Staiger, Index-Werke, Esslingen, Nika Nowizki, Institut für Maschinenelemente (IMA), University Stuttgart, Dr. Alexander Broos, Head of Research and Technology, Source: Rainer Jensen

EMO Hannover (18. bis 23. September 2017) – Weltleitmesse der Metallbearbeitung. VDW-Forschungsinstitut vergibt Auszeichnung “Projekt des Jahres 2016 an Frau Nika Nowizki. Im Bild: Dr. Alexander Broos, VDW, Leiter Forschung und Technik, Index-Werke, Nika Nowizki, Institut f? Maschinenelemente, Uni Stuttgart und Sven Staiger, Index-Werke GmbH & Co. KG, Esslingen

As part of the Safety Day at the EMO Hannover 2017, the VDW-Research Institute, the research community of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), awarded the prize for the “Project of the Year” yesterday for the third time, thus paying due tribute to outstanding research projects conducted by production-engineering academics in order to close knowledge gaps in regard to issues concerning certain specifics of machine tools, plus production technology and engineering.

The winner of this year’s prize is Dipl.-Ing. Nika Nowizki working for the Institute for Machine Components (IMA) of the University of Stuttgart, who in her study examined the field-evidenced reliability of automatic multi-spindle lathes from the Index company, with a view to ascertain the dependability of the ‘workpiece clamping’ safety function, which is actuated by means of a standard programmable logic control (PLC). “The characteristic reliability measures determined in the statistical analysis of the field data obtained are in some cases significantly higher even than those stipulated in the relevant standard,” reports Nika Nowizki.

Tightening the focus on machine safety
“The Safety Day at the EMO Hannover is a very good opportunity to raise public awareness for the highly important field of machine tool safety,” emphasises Dr. Alexander Broos, in charge of research and engineering at the VDW, the organiser of the EMO Hannover.

“We are particularly gratified to be able to address an international community at this year’s fair. That’s because proof of machine safety in a European context also concerns all those companies importing machines to Europe.”

Providing proof of machine tool safety is a relatively difficult process, because under statistical aspects hazardous scenarios are in fact relatively rare, but if they do occur they may have fatal effects. For example: if the safety function of workpiece clamping fails, it is possible that a “workpiece weighing several kilograms will be catapulted out of the clamping system at high rotational speed and may destroy the machine or even put people’s lives at risk,” to quote Nika Nowizki.

No accidents in more than 93 million operating hours
Many lathes (including their safety functions) are controlled by means of standard PLCs from prestigious manufacturers of control systems, some of which were installed as a standard feature even before the ISO 13849-1 safety standard was introduced about ten years ago. Machine tool manufacturers still want to work with this type of control system today, because it has given reliable service in the field. One important foundation for this field-proven dependability is the cascading of safety measures in the product safety standards, in this case the ISO 23125 Lathe Safety Standard, which has for many years now specified the standard for all important details of the safety functions, plus a sophisticated operating-mode system which in the case involved here is accommodated in a completely enclosed, automatic machine.

“Both manufacturers and users have hitherto always felt that the machines built to standard are very safe – without any scientific evidence to that effect,” says Nika Nowizki. “And now it’s more than just a feeling. We can provide statistically corroborated evidence confirming that the workpiece clamping function implemented with the standard PLC on the lathes examined complies with the stipulations laid down in the safety standards ISO 23125 and ISO 13849-1, and under certain circumstances even outperforms these.”

In her study, Nika Nowizki had examined the running times of 578 multi-spindle lathes with a total of 3,951 spindles. The machines were controlled with a standard PLC of identical type. The mechanical engineer analysed data reaching back as far as 1992 and her estimates covered accumulated operating hours for the machines examined of at the very least over 93 million, during which not a single safety-relevant accident had happened. The performance levels (PLs) rate a safety function’s contribution towards risk reduction. The value(s) stipulated in ISO 23125 of PL = b, and PL = c for workpiece clamping, were unambiguously met in this study.

“This important finding, meaning proof of field-proven reliability for the current state of the art of workpiece clamping on lathes, should be taken into due account during the most recently initiated revision of the ISO 23125 standard,” adds Heinrich Mödden, consultant for machine safety in the VDW. “We are also taking this opportunity to issue an invitation to work on this revised standard. Of the most important global producers of lathes, last time it was mainly manufacturers from Japan and Germany who got involved. But also other other major lathe-producing countries such as China and Korea should become active.”

Comparable studies, says Nika Nowizki, are also possible with other machine tools. And there are already specific plans ongoing to conduct them. At the beginning of next year, the Institute for Machine Elements at the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF) will submit an application for an even larger project with different types of machine.

It should also be mentioned here that a VDMA Position Paper on workpiece clamping was presented on the EMO Safety Day, which for the first time laid down regulations for responsible handling of actuator-driven workpiece clamping devices at component suppliers, machinery manufacturers and operators. Because despite the exemplarily evidenced high level of control-system reliability, the safety of workpiece clamping in an operational environment remains an important issue, e.g. when use for the intended purpose and the maintenance of clamping devices are involved.

hordon kim /

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Rockwell Automation Joins Initiative to Bring OPC UA to Field-Level Devices




Rockwell Automation is joining an OPC Foundation initiative to extend the OPC UA protocol to field-level industrial communications.

Under the initiative, a series of working groups are being formed to bring the OPC UA protocol’s vendor-independent, end-to-end interoperability to field-level devices. The initiative plans to address use cases not currently in scope for EtherNet/IP. It could also simplify other use cases, especially in multi-vendor, controller-to-controller environments and for the vertical integration of field devices.

“Rockwell Automation has always supported the development and use of open standards,” said Paul Brooks, business development manager, Rockwell Automation. “Extending the OPC UA protocol to the field level or shop floor can help simplify system development and accelerate a company’s journey to a Connected Enterprise.”

As the primary author of the EtherNet/IP specifications, Rockwell Automation understands EtherNet/IP users may see compatibility risks in technology developed for a different ecosystem. The company intends to mitigate these risks through both its ongoing development of EtherNet/IP and its intentions for the OPC UA protocol.

Rockwell Automation’s priorities within the new OPC Foundation initiative include working to help ensure the following:

OPC UA specifications are written with the same level of rigor and completeness as the EtherNet/IP specifications.
Time-sensitive networking (TSN) is commonly applied across the OPC UA, EtherNet/IP and PROFINET protocols, so all three can coexist on a common TSN-based network.
OPC UA pub/sub technology is implemented in a way that allows existing EtherNet/IP installations to support OPC UA devices.
OPC UA hardware requirements allow the protocol to be deployed on hardware platforms that are common in today’s EtherNet/IP components.
OPC UA software requirements allow the protocol to be deployed within current EtherNet/IP-centric software tools without significant changes to user workflows.
Conformance test practices mandated for EtherNet/IP reflect the necessary requirements for OPC UA conformance testing.

“We are committed to these priorities to help make sure EtherNet/IP users have a choice of whether and when they migrate to the new OPC UA protocol,” Brooks said. “We want users to determine the pace of this migration based on the value that they receive, rather than technology choices made in the specification. We trust that others engaged in the initiative will share this common goal.”

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[#SPS] Weidmüller and KEBA announced strengthened partnership for digitalisation and automation




The electronics company Weidmüller and the Austrian expert for industrial automation KEBA are now collaborating to complement each other’s digitalisation and automation portfolios.

Both companies announced this partnership on the occasion of SPS 2018 in Nuremberg. The collaboration focuses on shared offers for industrial automation technology with a focus on the area of machinery and plant engineering. Both companies also want to promote the utilisation of artificial intelligence (AI) in automation.

Weidmüller and KEBA partnership

Weidmüller and KEBA partnership for automation solutions

“We are happy to have found an experienced partner in industrial automation with KEBA who will help to complement our automation expertise. Combining u-control and the KEBA Engineering Suite ideally supports our customers with the implementation of ambitious automation concepts and Industry 4.0 solutions,” explains Volker Bibelhausen, CTO of the Weidmüller Group.

Michael Matthesius, Head of the Automation Products & Solutions division at Weidmüller sees this the same way: “When two excellent companies like Weidmüller and KEBA cooperate, our customers can be sure that one plus one will equal more than two in this case.”

Gerhard Luftensteiner, CEO of KEBA AG adds: “We are convinced that our product and service offerings for industrial customers complement each other ideally. From now on, customers looking for excellent digitalisation and automation solutions for Industry 4.0 will benefit from our combined expertise.”

With the cooperation, Weidmüller with its headquarters in Detmold, Germany, and KEBA based in Linz, Austria, are striving for a coordinated representation at the customer with a focus on the area of machinery and plant engineering in their respective markets. In so doing, the partners will mutually provide relevant components of their portfolios to each other.

KEBA will mainly contribute its open software solutions and parts of its control architecture, while Weidmüller will primarily contribute its u-mation product family expanded for SPS 2018 and its innovative industrial analytics offerings to the collaboration. Both companies rely on a close collaboration to further develop the product, solution and service offerings.

KEBA, founded in 1968 in Linz, is an expert for industrial automation with a focus on series machine engineering, robotics and plastics engineering as well as banking automation, electric mobility, logistics solutions, lottery solutions and heating controls.

Weidmüller, based in Detmold, Germany, is an expert for automation, digitalisation, communication and connecting components such as software and solutions, especially for industry. Both companies are privately owned.

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New Anybus gateways open an easy and secure path to IIoT via MQTT and OPC UA




HMS Industrial Networks has announced the release the new gateway families Anybus Communicator IIoT and Anybus X-gateway IIoT with support for MQTT and OPC UA, enabling data connectivity between equipment on all major industrial networks and IIoT applications.

The new gateway families Anybus Communicator IIoT and Anybus X-gateway IIoT from HMS open a straight-forward and powerful path to IIoT thanks to the new support for MQTT and OPC UA in combination with a complete coverage of industrial communication standards.

System integrators, machine builders and device manufacturers can benefit from the fact that data from virtually any industrial equipment communicating on industrial Ethernet, fieldbuses, CAN or serial protocols can be transmitted to IT systems and IoT software in an easy and secure way.

Connect anything to IIoT-applications

Regardless if the data is generated in a single device, a series of machines or entire automation systems, Communicator IIoT and X-gateway IIoT allow the data to be seamlessly integrated, monitored and analyzed from modern IIoT-systems.

Data from new as well as existing industrial equipment can be integrated allowing for improved transparency and decision-making across facilities, increased productivity as well as a more sustainable approach to manufacturing.

Anybus gateway

Anybus gateways to IIoT

As easy as IIoT can get!

Anybus Communicator IIoT specializes on providing data from devices on serial protocols and CAN, while Anybus X-gateway IIoT integrates data from fieldbuses and industrial Ethernet networks. Typical use cases for the gateways involve data integration from e.g. Modbus RTU and TCP, CAN-based protocols, PROFIBUS-DP, EtherNet/IP, PROFINET, EtherCAT, POWERLINK and CC-Link.

Existing users will feel at home since no programming is needed and the configuration logic of the existing Communicator and X-gateway stays the same in these new IIoT-versions. By using the free configuration tool Anybus Configuration Manager, ACM, users can easily configure, convert and tag the desired industrial data for efficient use in IT-systems or IIoT applications. When setting up the IT-connection, the gateways can be presented either as MQTT Client or OPC-UA server.

A secure connection to IT and IIoT

The fact that Anybus Communicator IIoT and Anybus X-gateway IIoT are standalone hardware between OT (operational technology) and IT, ensures a high level of security. After installation, only one-way data flow from OT to IT is allowed through the gateways, which means that the industrial equipment and systems that are connected to the gateways stay isolated from any potential attack from the IT side. For example, instead of being directly connected to IT, a PLC on an underlying industrial network can safely and securely connect and transmit data through the gateways, without risking to be attacked.

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