Modernising your legacy equipment with IIoT technology is possible

News31 May 2019IIoT
As an SME, you think IIoT, you think high installation costs. You look at your legacy machinery, which seemed a solid investment less than a decade ago, and you can’t help but feel it is already obsolete. Well, help is on the horizon, after a 1956 Colchester Bantam lathe and legacy milling machine were adapted to the latest technologies as part of a demonstration by University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
MACH, held at the NEC, Birmingham, UK, is the UK’s premier event for engineering-based manufacturing technologies. With tens of thousands of engineers, manufacturers, system integrators and end users treading the floor over the four day event, it is a chance for manufacturers to both showcase their work, or learn of the latest technologies.
In 2018’s MACH event, an important demonstration took place, almost slipping under the radar, which highlighted the fact that legacy equipment is not redundant just yet. University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), in partnership with the Manufacturing Technologies Association, showcased a 1956 Colchester Bantam lathe and legacy milling machine which had been retrofitted with sensors for data acquisition, accelerometers and thermocouples to measure vibration, temperature, current and power consumption.
Dr. Rab Scott, head of digital at the University, said, “At the AMRC we believe that it is important to break down the barriers between SMEs and the adoption of Industry 4.0. The overall cost of adding the sensors to the lathe was £250. The message is that having legacy equipment does not stop you from adopting Industry 4.0. You can do it and build confidence around your return on investment.
“The message is that having legacy equipment does not stop you from adopting Industry 4.0. You can do it and build confidence around your return on investment.”

VR revolutionising SMEs

Scott gave a real-world example of an SME implementing Industry 4.0 to their huge advantage. A small van-fitting company would create sketches and CAD designs for interior fixtures and fittings. The customer would sign these designs off, but after seeing them in the flesh, and having the ability to step inside and experience them in first person, they would often change their mind, demanding alterations at the cost of the company.
“Previously, it was carrying out several costly iterations to ensure its customers were happy with the interior design of the vehicle,” he said. “With the use of virtual reality, the process can be done much more quickly, cheaply and effectively.”

Now, the company integrates their 3D CAD designs into their VR software, giving the end-user the experience of the van conversion in as close to real-life environment as possible. They can place themselves into the interior as though they were seeing it in the flesh, allowing them to chop and change designs and layouts without wasting materials and labour-hours.

Impulse can help you with your next steps

From sensor to server, Impulse has the product-base, experience and knowledge to help plan your IIoT retrofit project. We offer all the building blocks for IIoT projects, from edge devices to converters, computers, networks and even SaaS and PaaS applications in cooperation with our trusted vendor partners. Get in touch now to chat to one of our team, who can talk you through the next steps of your project.
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