Central machine monitoring and process optimisation is the best way to ensure that production lines and
their associated constituent part machinery operates more effectively and economically. Many machines in well-established production lines, which may be between 15 and 30 years old, can still perform their main functional tasks successfully, however they do so less efficiently than their modern day counterparts.
For example, they don’t have the same level of computing power, enough memory capacity to record and store the relevant data, they lack the ability to communicate with their modern equivalents, or other language protocols. In many cases, these machines also use data formats and protocols from the 80s and 90s, which are no
longer used by today’s PLCs and industrial PCs.
Industry 4.0 Demands in a Smart Factory
The key to a successful Smart Factory is the ability for machines to communicate to one another at field level, in real time and with an intelligent functionality that gathers all the data together, analyses it and
produces meaningful insights that are then delivered to a management system. With a unified language, there is communication between machines, enabling full interaction and integration across the whole factory. This
communication functionality doesn’t need to be built into the machine. Instead flexible modular devices can be added on to capture, process and transfer this data
throughout all levels of the factory.
What is a Digital Retrofit?
A digital retrofit is where you add digitalisation capabilities to an existing machine that is without them or that these capabilities are not up to date. One such way of doing this is with the addition of a modular
- Digitalisation capabilities can include:
■ Enabling ICT Infrastructure of Machinery
■ Processing data in the production environment
■ Using smart data such as predictive analytics
■ Creating human and machine interaction
■ Enabling the use of mobile devices – dashboards
■ Creating Auto ID opportunites with RFID solutions
The key to a successful
Smart Factory is the
ability for machines to
communicate to one
Why Digital Retrofit?
Undertaking a digital retrofit project such as integrating a
“smart” industrial computer to existing machinery, offers many
benefits for end users including:
■ Create a Smarter Business
A digital retrofit project opens up a whole world of live
production data that can be used to improve processes,
increase efficiency, quality and throughput. The ability to think
smartly about predictive maintenance and condition monitoring
contributes towards increasing efficiencies and saving costs
while reducing downtime.
■ Extend the life of existing and old machinery
By integrating a “smart” digital platform such as a modular
industrial computer to existing machinery, end users are able
to create a way in which all machinery within the factory can
easily communicate across different protocol languages and across different aged machinery. The modular
industrial computer provides a protocol-converting gateway to the central operating software controls of
the machinery, meaning that existing machinery can be given the power to speak, thus extending the life of
- ■ Program in a language you know
Reduce time to adoption and get up and running quickly with the ability to choose an industrial computing
system that enables you to program in a language and environment that your organisation is familiar with.
■ Huge cost savings
Often the cost of undertaking a digital retrofit project is far less expensive than purchasing new machinery
that has modern communication capabilities built in. There are indirect cost savings also, long down times
for new machinery installation and old machinery decommissioning can be prevented by opting for a digital
retrofit. Disruption to working environment and production schedule can be minimised, training costs can be
reduced due to the ability to use a familiar programming language.
■ Communication with legacy machines
A digital retrofit project enables modern interfaces for devices whose communications are outdated. Using
a modular industrial computer based solution you can convert old machine protocols into OPC-UA or MQTT
in order to connect legacy machines to Industry 4.0 based systems or MES systems.
Digital Retrofit – Path to Industry 4.0 Success
HARTING’s new MICA (Modular Industrial
Computing Architecture) edge computing
device can directly address the Industry 4.0
roadblocks that older machines create. The path
to Industry 4.0 success can be cleared by using
the MICA to provide a digital retrofit solution for
older machinery. The MICA provides a protocol
converting gateway to the central operating
software controls of newer machinery, opening up
communication pathways between old and new
machinery, at a fraction of the investment cost of
purchasing a new machine.
This is due to the fact that with MICA’s modular open platform, the HARTING IIC MICA permits the user
to choose the programming language and development environment according to what they are more
familiar with. It can create a virtual image of a device or a machine in the digital world. It enables modern
interfaces for devices whose communications are outdated. This means that you can convert old machine
protocols into OPC-UA or MQTT, in order to connect legacy machines to the developed MES and Industry
4.0 based Smart Factory.
MICA fits anywhere
With dimensions of 13 x 8 x 3.5 cm, it is extremely compact
and can be fitted directly at the machine or on the DIN rail
in the electrical cabinet. MICA is robust, has no fan and
is maintenance-free. The system is designed for harsh
industrial and railway environments. It can be used in metallic
is resistant to dust,
moisture and temperature fluctuations (IP67). Remote servicing
for the MICA can be performed with a web browser.
MICA has a modular design architecture made from open
hardware and software components. Unlike single-board
computers – such as the Raspberry Pi – this device is divided
into three control boards. A power and network, CPU and an
end-user customisable function I/O board. For this function
board RFID, WLAN, BLE, SSD storage or fieldbus functionality
can be integrated with suitable I/O connectivity, without
changing the form factor or degree of protection of the MICA
Digital Retrofit – Path to Industry 4.0 Success
Linux Based Containers
MICA is easy to use, with the touchoptimised interface for end-users and
administrators, implemented entirely in
system software environment that allows
developers from both the production and
IT worlds to quickly implement projects
and customise without any special tools.
Applications are executed in their own
Linux based containers which contain
all the necessary libraries and drivers.
This means package dependencies and
incompatibilities are a thing of the past. In
addition, such containers run in individual ‘Sandboxes’ which isolate and secure different applications from
each other with their own separate log-in and IP Address. As a result, there should be no concerns over
data security when MICA is allowed access to a higher-level production operating network.
MICA is already offered with a number of containers such as Java, Python C/C++, OPC-UA, databases and
web toolkits. The modularity and the use of an intermediate JSON format allows other legacy systems to
be integrated in the future with minimal effort, only the log-input container is replaced. In addition, other
protocols can be easily supported by replacement of a container on the server side, e.g. MQTT.