Industrial embedded systems are used across a wide range of industries to supervise specific operations within a larger mechanical or electrical system. From HVAC units to complex aerospace avionics, industrial embedded systems are ubiquitous. In larger systems, industrial embedded systems act as a programmable operating system that performs specific tasks such as driving motors, controlling assembly line speeds, networking equipment, and/or adjusting temperatures.
Embedded systems are designed to help control power efficiency, maximize performance, and control processes while operating in demanding environments. Generally, embedded systems resemble miniaturized circuit boards with a microprocessor, memory, power supply, and external interfaces that communicate with other parts of a larger system. In industrial automation applications, machine control and machine monitoring are the two primary use cases when considering an embedded system.
Industrial Embedded Systems for Machine Control
For machine control, the embedded automation system is used to perform a range of tasks within industrial equipment, such as maintaining fluid flow rates in a CNC machine, controlling assembly line speeds, and automatically adjusting gear ratios in motor driven processes. Many manufacturing systems already feature programmable logic controllers (PLC) that can communicate at the I/O level.
As a result, industrial embedded systems can be integrated into existing machine controls, leveraging automation software along with proprietary NC and CNC functionality. Industrial embedded systems help to unify and centralize control architecture, reduce maintenance costs, and optimize a machine’s performance capabilities. In addition, machine control is an embedded automation feature that allows manufacturers to help improve overall product quality.
Industrial Embedded Systems for Machine Monitoring
In machine monitoring, industrial embedded systems review a system’s condition in real-time, measuring power, pressure, temperature, vibration, flow rate, and more. In machine monitoring, existing manufacturing systems can leverage the existing network connections to send performance data to a centralized server or cloud-based gateway.
This data is aggregated and analyzed, providing actionable information through reports, notifications, and dashboards. Industrial embedded systems can perform machine monitoring to help measure performance, improve productivity, and optimize equipment capabilities. Machine monitoring is a proactive way to maintain uptime and prevent production loses through the application of embedded systems.
The Future of Embedded Industrial Systems
With networking and communication for industrial embedded systems now entering the Internet of Things (IoT) realm, new frameworks are being developed that allow embedded systems to connect directly or indirectly to the web. This allows components with embedded microprocessors to communicate directly with components of other systems. In addition, embedded automation systems are now leveraging machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data analytics to help monitor and make recommendations to operators acting as the human interface.
Embedded systems are part of the future of smart manufacturing, providing a greater, more direct level of industrial control than ever before. Both new and existing industrial equipment can be leverage embedded systems to optimize manufacturing processes. In light of the rapidly evolving pace of microprocessor improvements, machine control and machine monitoring are constantly evolving and allowing for greater embedded system logic, control, and scalability.
Digitronik Labs is a leading provider of industrial productivity solutions, raising the bar for PLC, HMI, vision, and motion solutions that are used for industrial control and monitoring. To learn more about our work with embedded systems, please visit our website or contact us directly.