IQMS MES Product Expansion: The PMIU88 PLC for Shop Floor Monitoring

Shop floor control with the PMIU88 PLC from IQMSIQMS‘ Manufacturing Execution System (MES) product offering has recently expanded with the introduction of the PMIU88. This stands for Process Monitoring Interface Unit and 88 is a reference to the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) hardware inside the box. If you’re still asking: “What does that mean?”, I can’t blame you, but please give me a minute and I’ll explain what can be achieved with the new PMIU88.

As a quick technical overview, for the engineer in you, the PMIU88 is a piece of equipment that IQMS has developed to connect you to your factory floor manufacturing machines with sensors. It consists of an Ethernet connected PLC within a hardened enclosure that offers the ability to connect several sensors that can record data and outputs that can be conditionally triggered for your equipment. There are various temperature sensors (resistance temperature detectors, thermocouples), pressure transducers and digital and analog signals that can be connected, depending on the application of the PMIU88 to the machine being monitored.

Now in layman’s terms: There’s a large variance in the type of automated equipment used in manufacturing today, but I’ll use injection molding as an example. As with many manufacturing processes, there are several factors that are critical to injection molding a quality part. For example, time, pressure and temperature are just a few of the settings that are configured on the injection molding machine when making a part. Even after you’ve spent hours finding the perfect setup and put the machine in automatic mode for the weekend, there are external factors that can quickly lead an optimal configuration in the wrong direction.

For example, a variance in the water cooling temperature could result in faulty parts being made. Failing to monitor this could lead to hours or days worth of bad production. To help with this problem, many modern machines offer a number of built-in features to help you auto reject a bad part or save a configuration, but a limited number of those offer a solution for integrating the machine with your ERP/MES system. Even fewer offer a low cost solution like the PMIU88.

PMIU88 PLC and Shop Floor Monitoring

You may have guessed by now that the PMIU88 has something to do with time, temperature and pressure monitoring. You’re correct, but there’s a lot more to it. Each of these factors has limits that are acceptable by you and inevitably by your customer. With RealTime™ Process Monitoring and the PMIU88, you can quickly set up a Bill of Material (BOM) with the limits for each of these. The limits can be stored in the database for future use to upload to a PMIU88.

When the BOM is scheduled to run on the machine, those limits are transferred to the PMIU88 so that it can provide instant feedback to the outputs of the PMIU88. Provided there are reject signals on the machine, the outputs of the PMIU88 can optionally be wired to the machine so that during the cycle, a measurement can pass/fail each cycle as it occurs. Additionally, through EnterpriseIQ, you can configure which of these limits will classify a reject and which of them simply record data into the historian database.

In real time, you are able to analyze the data with the powerful RealTime™ charting tools and view alarm data per cycle. With the alarm data, you’ll know right away which limits were exceeded on each cycle so adjustments can be made early to prevent wasted time and material. You can also optionally feed the data into the IQMS’ Statistical Process Control (SPC) module for SPC analysis and IQMS’ RealTime™ Production Monitoring system for production reporting counts, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) factors, parts to go and scrap percentages.

Later, when your customer requests sample data from the lot of parts they received, it’s as easy as running a report to see each cycle or exporting data to Microsoft Excel directly from the RealTime™ Charts web page.

With the new PMIU88 PLC, IQMS can offer an even deeper level of shop floor control and product monitoring to its MES solution. Combine that with the fact that our MES software is completely integrated into the extended ERP system and IQMS’ customers are receiving a comprehensive look of their entire business at all times.

Jason Slater, IQMS Vice President of Development, oversees IQMS' award-winning development team responsible for the design of emerging technologies for the shop floor. Jason holds a bachelor of science degree from California Polytechnic State University.