The incorporation of a fieldbus solution to control pneumatic valves could be an important step towards cloud-connected Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) innovations on the assembly line, says multinational motion and control technologies provider Parker Hannifin South Africa account manager Selina Naidoo.
A fieldbus solution is a system of industrial computer network protocols used for automated industrial systems, such as manufacturing assembly lines, which require a distributed control system.
“These solutions, such as our industrial communications series, create an automated industrial network, specifically designed for communications between programmable logic controls through a communications system such as Ethernet,” she says.
Naidoo points out that, with many end-users implementing lean manufacturing principles and looking to eliminate waste and improve material flow, collective wiring allows for easy relocation of manufacturing centres.
When implementing a fieldbus solution, a reduction occurs in the number of components required on the bill of material, as junction boxes and control cabinets are turned into simple connections.
Naidoo states that the elimination of junction boxes means that disassembling a station, such as an assembly plant or conveyor system, can be simplified to disconnecting cord sets and reconnecting them once the station has moved.
This type of fieldbus solution consists of two cables, one for communications and the other for power, which can handle the workload of hundreds of cables. This allows for large machines to be disassembled for shipment and reassembled using minimum labour, as the wiring is connected using two cables.
Naidoo mentions that emerging 4IR innovations – such as these – are a significant driving factor that contributes to the company’s plans for the future.
Voice of the Machine
Amid the positive role that 4IR will play in the fluid power industry, several of Parker Hannifin’s products and technologies – such as Voice of the Machine – will contribute to the growing market of monitoring and managing global automated systems remotely.
Voice of the Machine is Parker’s complete Internet of Things (IoT) platform and the umbrella brand for the company’s connect products, systems and services. The system lowers client risks, maintenance costs and unplanned maintenance, and provides opportunities to make consistent improvements to operational performance, explains Naidoo.
“We are excited to see how the different industries we serve evolve, and how Parker Hannifin will contribute positively to the new industry developments and requirements. We are constantly developing and improving our product range so that we are aligned with the growing market globally,” she states.
Meanwhile, Parker Hannifin has added service value to the range of products which it sells by entering into partnerships with three authorised repair centres in South Africa. This has been done to provide hydraulic equipment restoration for the company’s Denison product range.
Hydraulic equipment supplier Sisonke Hydraulics and Engineering, repair service Denhyd Repairs and hydraulic equipment supplier Fluid Power Automation will provide Denison equipment restoration to original-equipment manufacturer specifications.
Becoming an authorised Denison repair centre requires stringent adhesion to Parker Hannifin standards, as companies are audited to determine whether these standards have been met.
Naidoo emphasises the importance of this process, as it goes some way towards guaranteeing quality repairs and services for clients.
Establishing such centres in South Africa enables clients to receive dedicated professional services through qualified staff and suitable equipment, and Parker is assured that its aftermarket client requirements are fulfilled. This is important owing to an increasing focus on spares and repair services, she explains.
This focus stems from a struggling economy, resulting in a general trend of end-users “tightening their belts”, says Naidoo.
Despite the struggling economy, she highlights that Parker Hannifin is constantly expanding its product range by capitalising on cross-selling, which is crucial to the company’s growth in different industries.
Aside from the hydraulics and pneumatics industry, the company also has products available in the electromechanical industry, such as ac and dc drives, controllers, servomotors, stepper motors and electro cylinders.
“We have a dedicated team that deals with filtration, instrumentation and fluid connectors. Our focus on products by industry enables us to successfully promote them with the right technical capability. With an in-house synergy, we achieve growth through most industries in South Africa, including mobile and industrial applications, where equal opportunity exists,” she concludes.