Durham, North Carolina, is home to the top manufacturing facility of Toyota transmissions. There, the AW North Carolina (AWNC) plant produces more than 600,000 automatic transmissions each year for Camry, Rav4, Sequoia, Tundra, and Tacoma vehicles. The factory, notes the Internet of Things Institute, "just might serve as a microcosm for the future of manufacturing, thanks in part to a $1.2-million overhaul of its IT network."
Before the AWNC plant was revamped, the facility's networks would shut down about once a month, disrupting manufacturing for an average of two to four hours. Every hour of downtime equates to roughly $270,000 in lost revenue—and this is excluding costs related to salaried employees and maintenance activities. However, the company recovered $1 million of its $1.2 million IT network overhaul in just the first nine months due to maintenance savings.
Impressive ROI aside, the AWNC factory serves as an example of where manufacturing is going, thanks to smart factory technologies. With its manufacturing efficiency gains, the factory has been able to ramp up its headcount to support increased production. Better predictive maintenance capabilities promise to significantly reduce downtime of factory robotics. Also, automated factories are fueling the reshoring movement, enabling companies to place their manufacturing facilities closer to their customers and their R&D teams, rather than offshoring to locations with lower labor costs.
The IO-Link protocol is one of the technologies that is helping to improve factory throughput and operational efficiency by making flexible manufacturing possible. Through this protocol, traditional sensors are becoming intelligent sensors, eliminating the need to send technicians to the factory floor to change sensors or recalibrate them. Instead, users can remotely change sensor settings based on real-time data on the health and status of other sensors on the line, as well as the manufacturing operation that the sensor is tasked to perform.
To help you deepen your understanding about IO-Link and associated solutions, Maxim has produced the IO-Link Handbook. The handbook has six major sections. In Section 1, you’ll get an overview of IO-Link and learn about physical layer (PHY) IO-Link standardized connectors and electrical specifications and the industrial sensor ecosystem. Section 2 provides insights on the IO-Link environment, covering data link layer, data types, master-device communication, and more. In Section 3, you’ll get tips on designing an IO-Link sensor, including design considerations and smart sensor design features. Section 4 is all about designing an IO-Link Master, while Section 5 covers ways to improve system performance by addressing electromagnetic compatibility requirements. Finally, in Section 6, you’ll find information on Maxim’s various IO-Link solutions. As you consider your next Industry 4.0 design, be sure to check out the IO-Link Handbook for techniques to enhance your design.
People working alongside robotics are making manufacturing more efficient.