As industrial manufacturers increase the use of computer-controlled production line machinery and equipment to improve product quality and lower costs, the need for continuous process observation becomes vital. Intelligent system monitoring technology can be used in these critical industrial applications to detect abnormal conditions and allow users to take immediate action to eliminate waste and reduce downtime. These built-in, self-diagnostic systems are used in factory settings to avoid the waste and long periods of downtime required with a production line shutdown and restart. This blog will take a look at an example of an intelligent monitoring application from Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance member Advantech along with available hardware and software to simplify your next industrial design project.
The Advantech technical support website lists a number of applications where products based on Intel technology provide intelligent monitoring functions as a part of the manufacturing process. For example, the Solar Cell Test case study describes a subset of the automatic test and measurement equipment needed in a solar panel production facility (See figure 1). Through the use of pick-and-place motion control technology, solar cells are placed on a conveyer belt and then accurately monitored with discrete sensors and machine vision as they pass through each stage of the inspection procedure. The Advantech UNO-3084 dual-core embedded controller and integrated with a PCI-1202U AMONet communications card delivers commands for real-time motion control and status monitoring. AMONet is a hybrid RS-485-based fieldbus delivering high speed, deterministic communications with a 20 Mbps transfer rate. The controller can scan 1024 digital I/O channels within 1.04ms and manage up to 256 axes for motion control.
The embedded controller used in this case study is just one example of Advantech’s wide selection of industrial computers based on Intel architecture. For example, the ARK-2105L high performance embedded computer designed around the 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ architecture is one of the most recent additions (See figure 2). This new system is equipped with the Intel® Core™ i3/i7-3517UE processor and QM77 Express chipset plus multiple I/O ports for communicating with intelligent monitoring peripherals. The ARK-2105L includes a number of features for rugged embedded applications including input power ranges from 12V to 24V, temperature ranges from -20° C to 60° C, structural strengthening, and easy expansion capabilities. The processor also includes a number of performance features that target industrial applications that require high-speed, high-definition image analysis and multiple video displays. The built-in Intel® HD Graphics technology provides up to 16 execution units with DirectX 11 and OpenGL 3.1 support.
Also supporting intelligent monitoring functions, Advantech recently announced SUSIAccess V2.0, a remote device management software application compatible with all their embedded platforms (See figure 3). SUSIAccess allows system designers to centralize monitoring and managing of remote embedded devices in real-time by automatically collecting device data and providing logs for remote management. The application monitors essential device status information including temperature, voltage, fan speed, signal strength, and remaining battery power. When errors occur, SUSIAccess notifies the administrator via warning popups and e-mail alerts. If there is a major system crash, the system automatically reboots in order to run diagnostics and deploy system recovery procedures. SUSIAccess is preloaded on all Advantech platforms and contains an on-demand software platform in the cloud, providing new applications and software updates.
In addition to the intelligent monitoring features described above, software developers addressing industrial automation applications can take advantage of Intel® vPro Technology to access, control, and reconfigure a remote embedded system. vPro includes Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) with certificate-based security for remote access regardless of the operational status of the system. This technology provides industrial automation support teams an economical method to monitor, manage, and control a large number of production platforms from a central location. If you are ready to start an industrial automation project requiring intelligent monitoring please share your questions and comments with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can keep up with the latest technical articles and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on remote management.
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