Cost-effective PC-based robot monitoring and preventive maintenance solution for a high-tech manufacturing


Manufacturers commenced to implement robotic applications for developing products in order to meet the growing requirements of users, enhance productivity and efficiency of a product. These applications have attained a high value preference in the field of industrial mechanics as they contribute for achieving quality with robust functionality. As a result, many companies and people have adopted the automated application procedure to enhance their production. The major drawback involved in this process is, a sudden equipment failure may affect productivity. On the other hand, the high-tech manufacturers are required to supervise the control of a machine at regular intervals as its failure might bring huge loss. Therefore, gathering robot information through sensors and recognizing problems beforehand is essential.

System Requirement:

Robots have brought revolutionary change in the field of manufacturing industry. Generally, they are made in different sizes, shapes and their load carrying capacity depends up on their size and strength. The necessity of robots has been increasing each passing day and they constitute a very important part of the contemporary industries as they make things effortlessly.

A prominent Taiwanese panel maker owns six thousand robots in more than ten companies across Taiwan to transfer and move materials. The maintenance of these robots arises when they their functions failed to work properly or scheduled for annual service. But, it is extremely difficult to resolve the health status of a robot. When a robot encounters an unusual situation, it delays work that leads to insufficient production and late delivery. In order to resolve this issue, the company is planning to improve the quality of robots through equipment monitoring and early warning solutions. This kind of alert helps to arrange or repair the robot whenever abnormality occurs and thus reduces maintenance costs as well as robot utilization.

The company contains at least a dozen robotic arms in each factory as their panel production requires several hundred processes. Isolated condition of a robot can be detected earlier by using data comparison technique. So, a high speed equipment monitoring solution is required to attain analog signals at the rate of 1000 signals per second. Subsequently, the collected signals should be distributed to the control room for monitoring data analysis and management of robot. The monitoring system needs to act as a relay station to avoid huge amounts of network bandwidth. It should allow the system to regularly recover data at chosen times. The factory’s production line has very limited space to accommodate additional new devices even though it is large in size. This made to incorporate a distributed data acquisition and streamlined hardware configuration into the project requirement.

System Description:

Advantech designed a robot monitoring and preventive maintenance solution to meet the high-speed data acquisition needs by using APAX-5000 series products such as analog input module, PAC controller and backplane module. The APAX5000 series products consist of an integrated Intel processor that gives the control platform flexibility to integrate various I/O modules besides providing highly efficient computing. It connects the Current Transformer or CT on the robotic arm through the 12 channel APAX-5017H analog input module. On the other hand, the APAX-5580 series is capable to store the gathered analog signals on its internal hard drive. Control room’s monitoring system extracts the industrial computer data regularly through the factory intranet based on user’s set time i.e. for every five to ten minutes. After receiving detailed current fluctuation data, it analyzes and determines whether the robotic arm is working or not.

The APAX-5580 is a combination of large capacity memory, high-speed data processing and storage space, standard Ethernet interface support and various modules connections. It helps to undertake essential data gateway tasks and uses distributed configuration to gather a large number of front-end analog signals. However, the PC based open environment of APAX-5580 easily integrates with various applications that are developed by users. It is also perfect for the usage of space limited workshop.

Advantech used the APAX-5002, dual slot backplane module to remove the complexity of hardware. It has linked multiple APAX-5017H modules without using extra devices and also allowed the robot monitoring solutions to enhance the system efficiency with minimal hardware requirements.

System Diagram:


Advantech has a strong presence across the globe and contains hands of experience in preventive maintenance, and equipment monitoring. The company has provided the services for various semiconductor and high-tech manufacturers.  The monitoring system and machine diagnosis of Advantech had been used by the Taiwan based company in its factories. To implement the robot monitoring system, the company sought the help of our assistance. During the testing phase, the solutions had collected abnormal current signals which made the robotic arm do not work after a few days. This situation led the company to introduce a monitoring system. The factory located in Central Taiwan has implemented Advantech’s solution to monitor more than 300 robotic arms and on the other hand, remaining factories will also employ the same system.