June 11, 2020 by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
SICK AG has developed a new digital solutions portfolio where customers can directly access their sensor data and integrate it into their business processes.
The company’s digital offerings have been bundled into two brands: the SICK AppSpace and the SICK IntegrationSpace.
AppSpace: On the shop floor
In the SICK AppSpace ecosystem, programmable sensors and edge devices can be configured for new tasks using SensorApps.
Many apps are already available for download via the SICK AppPool.
Until now, basic programming skills were required to generate SensorApps in SICK AppStudio. But a new graphical interface in SICK AppStudio allows users to solve specific sensor applications without programming skills, by configuring and linking pre-defined function blocks in a data flow.
For specific applications, SensorApps can also be used independently by the customer and developed together with SICK experts with the support of a developer community.
For example, SICK has been able to connect hardware with new SensorApps to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The PeopleCounter and DistanceGuard apps integrated into the company’s 2D and 3D LiDAR sensors are helping people adhere to the social distancing requirement in public and pre-defined spaces.
Since the sensor solutions do not process any personal information, they enable companies to adhere not only to the requisite hygiene but also data privacy requirements.
IntegrationSpace: In the digital environment
The IntegrationSpace is where users can find all of the digital services offered by SICK.
“Today, customers come to us with problems which have nothing to do with classical automation engineering dealing with sensor systems, logic and actuator engineering,” says Christoph Müller, senior vice-president product management at SICK AG.
“Instead, they want to make business processes much more efficient. So the sensor gathers data which helps solve the problem and brings it to the data level.”
The IntegrationSpace platform makes it possible to access the virtual representation (or digital twin) of the sensor and its data, as well as administer and book digital services.
SICK uses what it calls LiveConnect to deliver a standardized, secure connection from an edge gateway to the SICK Asset Hub, or to other SICK or third-party applications. This visualizes the sensor status, thereby providing a foundation for optimizing plant availability and process efficiency.
The LiveConnect web service connects the hardware, a SensorApp, and the cloud. This creates a connection between the sensor-oriented shop floor (SICK AppSpace) and the SICK IntegrationSpace cloud environment.
The Asset Hub is a digital, web-based enterprise asset management (EAM) system. The Asset Hub provides a virtual view of the individual sensors and machines as well as the plant as a whole.
This new transparency via virtual images, the digital twins, and assets – along their entire lifecycles – enables greater plant availability and process efficiency, the company says.
Data are evaluated in the Asset Hub to deliver valuable information about required inventories, maintenance, the right time for software updates, or the availability of devices.
For example, the SICK Asset Hub service module offers services for maintenance employees and enables them to access sensor maintenance schedules and certificates, among other things.