The real pain of machine manufacturers

May 19, 2022

As a loyal reader of our blog, you know by now why we exist. Today we want to talk a little bit about the real pain that machine manufacturers have and how we address it. Just imagine you had to build a machine yourself. Let’s say the filling line for a brewery. Your client, the brewery, wants you to provide not only the filling process, but also a state-of-the-art display for the operation and implement predictive maintenance, especially of the conveyor belt.

If you are at home in industrial automation, then you know that there are numerous solutions for these three tasks. Today, we simply call these solutions apps. Now it stands to reason that you pick out the appropriate apps and install them on the PLC, i.e. the computer in the bottling plant. Sounds logical and simple, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not. Your PLC comes with exactly one app. Usually the app for programming the filling process. Okay, can you call the PLC manufacturer and order a PLC that has your desired apps for visualization and predictive maintenance pre-installed? No. For the PLC manufacturer, the effort is far too great to pre-install additional apps on request.

So what is left for you? You have to go to work yourself and, for example, provide another computer in the bottling plant on which you install the missing apps. The good news is that you can. The bad news: This additional computer is most likely running Linux. So there are no Windows installers for these apps. You’ll have to install the apps yourself using the Linux terminal and make sure they run again after the reboot and don’t lose their data during the update. In fact, we see this approach at the moment with very many machine manufacturers. Often one or two developers are used here who do nothing else. So you can see that a lot of time and money is spent on something that is actually self-evident, such as installing and updating apps. You can save all that. How?

You use FLECS! With FLECS you have all the apps for your bottling line available on your computer. One click and the app is installed on the filling line.

One question remains: How do I connect the apps to each other? The visualization must be able to access the control data and the runtime of the conveyor must be linked to the app for predictive maintenance. That’s what the Service Mesh is for. With it, FLECS lets all apps talk to each other and exchange data.

Curious now? FLECS works not only for bottling lines, but for any machine you can imagine. Everyone can test FLECS for free. So what are you waiting for?

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