At Omron’s recent Innovation Conference held at the CSIR Conference Centre, delegates were briefed on the latest developments in IIoT and the Smart Factory, and the benefits of Omron’s new i-Automation solutions. Victor Marques, country general manager for South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa set the scene, with a preview of Omron’s exciting new Q2A series of VSDs, highlighting the value we can add to society when innovation is driven by social needs.
Applications engineer, Driaan Coetzer then explained Omron’s concept of i-Automation for smart factories. This comprises the three I’s, i-automation, i-intelligence and i-interactive, and together they facilitate innovation in manufacturing in a smart, connected factory. This leads to an improvement in overall equipment efficiency (OEE).
Today’s need is customised products and short production cycles, and by measuring OEE it is possible to reveal hidden costs due to unplanned stops and performance losses due to slow cycles; and Omron’s FQ range of vision QC systems can offer solutions for industrial tasks that are repetitive, precise and difficult for humans. “We can track and trace and increase production while minimising losses in quality,” he explained.
Another innovation is the NX1 series 2 in 1 machine automation controller. The NX1 interprets the data in the controller and turns it to information and then actions a roadmap for intelligent production. “Our OEE improvement roadmap allows you to turn big data into actionable information – the key to OEE,” he says. Application engineer, Quintin Nel then introduced another of Omron’s advanced motion solutions, the i4H Scara robot series, which was developed in an alliance with Techman Robotics.
Omron is also the first in the industry to introduce motion control with artificial intelligence (AI). This is in the form of a library of algorithms and function blocks based on a machine learning engine. The machine automation controller can use AI in production processes. It monitors all the patterns in a machine, for example if a bottle moves or spills, and reacts accordingly.
The cherry on the top was the introduction of Forpheus, Omron’s ping pong robot based on its proprietary prediction model. Not only can Forpheus play ping pong, it can also predict the ball’s trajectory and adapt to its opponent’s skill level.
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