PROFINET diagnostics solution raises condition monitoring to a new level

In order to further increase system safety when handling magnesium, the light metal foundry Leichtmetallgießerei Handtmann has equipped four new die casting machines with the PROFINET diagnostics solution TH SCOPE and TH LINK by Softing Industrial Automation. This solution monitors several fieldbus networks and protocols at the same time so that consistently high, overall network stability can be guaranteed.

In 2015/16, Handtmann invested around EUR 25 million into building a new production site at Biberach where magnesium components are manufactured. Four new ultramodern machines with 2,500 and 1,800 ton closing pressure were added to the equipment. Since the new die casting machines were commissioned, Handtmann has been using PROFINET, the open Industrial Ethernet Standard for Automation. The implementation of Softing's PROFINET diagnostics solution TH SCOPE and TH LINK opens up further opportunities of condition monitoring. It is an integrated software solution for continuous status monitoring and predictive maintenance, as well as for approval measurements and fault localization during disruptions. As part of this process, TH LINK records the relevant data in the IP networks for up to 253 participants and makes these available to the user via TH SCOPE. The module can be integrated into both the existing machine pool and into new equipment.

“For us, it was important to utilize all conceivable potential in order to be able to ensure the highest possible system safety level when casting magnesium,” Holger Schöllhorn explains. “Consistent transparency and ongoing monitoring were relevant in this context. At the same time, we are using the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the latest generation control components so that we can use them with full confidence, including for other die casting cells in future.”

Varied opportunities in only one system

TH SCOPE is aimed both at machine operators and maintenance personnel. Together with the TH LINK components, the product supports all commonly used network protocols, in addition to PROFINET. “The application can be flexibly integrated into existing systems and processes and is very easy to use so that you need no specialized network knowledge,” Anton Winkler, Field Application Engineer at Softing, reports. It offers stationary and mobile access. All diagnostics data can be exported and processed further e.g. in Excel. “In addition, fault and network statistics can also be generated for historical data or for any defined timeframe,” Anton Winkler continues.

Ready to face changes

The software can be installed either on a real or on a virtual machine (VM). Handtmann chose the latter option. The advantage of the virtual image is that any hardware downtime does not result in major costs, the company explains. You are basically working with a Lego-like system, and this also makes maintenance easier. The implementation, parameterization and commissioning of TH SCOPE and TH LINK were completed within one week.

Since then, Handtmann has benefited from constant, web-based monitoring including an alarm system and consistent availability across different protocols. The PROFINET diagnostics software combines all the functions required for monitoring and analyses in only one system. At the same time, statistics and documentation from the connected networks can be displayed. Holger Schöllhorn summarizes the uses for his company: “Safety, loggability, change monitoring.“ He considers these factors to be even more important now than ever, especially given the explosion risks involved in handling magnesium, and the continuous increase in data.

“The greatest benefit of TH SCOPE is that several fieldbus networks and communication protocols can be monitored at the same time using just one application,” adds Anton Winkler from Softing Industrial Automation, who provided technical support during project implementation. In the event of faults, the user is automatically sent advice on how to eliminate the fault. Furthermore, the network status can also be used as a reference for future comparisons.

The plan is to equip all of Handtmann's die casting machines with the PROFINET standard in future in order to be able to consistently generate added value. It is also conceivable that additional TH LINKs may be used which know their way around the entire network and active safeguard against downtime at all levels in their role as agents.

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