Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
I am always befuddled by folks who go out of their way to get the newest cell phones, cars, or fashion trends year after year. To me, that just doesn’t seem like a very good investment. I would love to hear an argument for why the newest Nikes are that much better than last year’s version—do they allow you to walk that much faster? How fast does one really need to walk? And cell phones—I might get a new one once every four or five years. I can guarantee that I can text and call just as well with my old phone as I could with a new one. Many control engineers share a similar attitude when it comes to digitalizing their factory floors. Older is often better, and newer is expensive and unnecessary.
The Dilemma: New and Fancy, or Old and Reliable
Manufacturers want to achieve near-complete, if not complete, digitalization in their factories. For some, that might feel like a pipe dream. You have a lot of old machines that have a ton of useful data—data that you’re not ready to part ways with. These old machines often don’t integrate well with the rest of your factory floor ecosystem. This leaves you with just two options:
- Replace your old technology with new technology. While this might sound pretty fun and straightforward, believe me when I tell you that it is not. Getting brand new equipment sounds like a blast until you realize that you must accurately evaluate the financial investment into not only the new equipment, but also cybersecurity. Oh! And don’t forget all stakeholders that will have to be trained to use these new machines, understand the user interfaces, etc. Training is not only a financial commitment but also one that consumes a lot of time.
- Find a way to integrate your old devices into your ecosystem without losing even a bit of data. This solution is simpler than you would expect and one that will require a significantly smaller investment, minimal training, and minimal planning. Plus, the best part is you get to keep your valuable data.
We build industrial gateways capable of connecting even your oldest machines to the newest of your devices without losing any of your valuable machine data and without having to replace any expensive hardware. Rather, you can move data from one machine into the gateway and have the gateway translate the data into a format that can be understood by your other technology. One of our most popular gateways, the 435NBX, is perhaps the simplest and fastest method of moving ASCII serial data from weigh scales, serial barcode scanners, and RFID slave data to Allen-Bradley PLCs. Through simple browser-based configuration, you define the makeup of your ASCII string and then watch it get delivered directly to your user-defined tag or register location in the data table of your PLC. Another popular gateway that our customers use to move Modbus RTU data into Allen-Bradley PLCs is the 460ETCMM. The 460ETCMM moves data between up to 32 Modbus RTU slave devices and up to five different Allen-Bradley PLCs. It’s the perfect tool to help save legacy Modbus RTU devices from the scrap pile and also allows you to use the plethora of Modbus RTU devices available in your Allen-Bradley PLC architectures.
Of course, these are just two examples of gateway products that can move your data and help you achieve digitalization on your factory floor. To find the right gateway solution for your factory, visit our website. At the top of the page, you’ll see a banner called “Product Selector.” From there you can specify which types of devices you need connected and find the perfect solution for your factory. For any further questions, be sure to shoot us an email or give us a buzz at 1-800-249-1612. Our applications engineers are friendly, knowledgeable, and a little lonely…so please give them a call!