What is Data Collection – Method, Types & Tools

Data Collection

Early 2010, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (or “Industry 4.0”) marked the beginning of a new era, in which data collection became central to manufacturing, where advances and adoption of new data collection technology spiral the manufacturing industry.

Data collection in manufacturing is all about gathering, measuring, and analyzing data from various sources. The goal is to use it in the decision-making to analyse & find areas where manufacturers can improve production, reduce waste, and increase overall productivity.

Data Collection (2)

Our focus of Data Collection topic is based on Industrial application within a typical manufacturing shop floor hence, Data Collection in an industrial environment is a methodological process of gathering accurate information in real time data points from various sensors, machinery, process parameters such as temperature, humidity, pressure, speed of a rotating system, vibration of rotator systems, operator information, products being assembled a moved within various areas of manufacturing shop floor.

Data collection methods in a manufacturing shop floor could be a challenging process, since all data collected must be performed in real time, there are a different methods or techniques in getting these data points from source to destination which is normally resident within databases.

Edge computing device method: Headless edge computing devices are installed at various manufacturing work area. Localize data generation sources as listed above are connected via wired / wireless to these edge computing devices, such an implementation is termed a local data collection point. Data pre processing software on these devices is responsible to clean and validate data points, most cases data is validated for normalized range value, correct resolution, a date time stamp, and sensor address is attached to the data point prior to transmitting to central data collection server computer either to a local server or in the cloud.

Operator and product local panel: Local operator login panel or HMI – human machine interface pad collect localize operator login and process data collection, these devices are preconfigured during setup to transmit data output from them in a preconfigured format to match data validation and data length format as required by central data server.

Manufacturing control systems interface: Most manufacturing control systems are equipped with PLCSCADA control systems, these are integrated units which communicate to manufacturing networks using industrial protocols, data is preconfigured within these control systems to meet data formats prior to transmission of data points in real time to a centralized server.

IoT sensors interface: This method involves use of sensors to collect data from machines and equipment, in addition to sensors already preinstalled by OEM for process monitoring,  IoT sensors are utilized to monitor machine performance, fault detection, and optimize production performance.

Mobile RF scanners and RFID Tags interface: Mobile radio frequency scanners are used to scan barcodes on items and finish products to logging in lot codes and SKU numbers, radio frequency identification tags are attached to similar items used in production, this technology is used to track product and material movement within various manufacturing locations.

Paper forms: Paper forms method of data collection is still used in certain areas of manufacturing when real time automation is not possible, such a method of data collection is less efficient but could be used in places where automation is not feasible.

Types of Data Collection within a manufacturing environment is application dependent:

Data Collection

MES – Manufacturing Execution System, MES System is one type of data collection in today’s manufacturing environment manufacturers implement for a centralized data collection and manufacturing environment analysis and analytics.

Statistical Process Control – SPC – data points are used on mostly finished products, example of an SPC tracking in real time finished product parameters monitoring and controls in loop back correction. There is customized software specially for SPC depending upon manufacturing industry.

Manufacturing Historians Data Analysis: data point historians saved on to a centralized database, provides real time trending for operations staff to monitor and act and tune process parameters.

Equipment Downtime: data points collection on various equipment status during normal operation and shutdown situation, provides pointers in efficient planning on regular maintenance shutdown to avoid shutdown downtime situations.

RTU – Remote Terminal Unit: RTU data points collection are helpful in remote unmanned control stations like electrical sub stations, EPA remote environment monitoring stations. Data is collected and transmitted to central station via RTU interface.

Manufacturing Data Collection Tools:

Manufacturing data collection plays an important role in optimizing production processes and enhancing efficiency. The evolution of technology has increased the demand for accurate and real time data collection. A perfect solution in today’s technological world is to have a bidirectional approach to integrate field data generation nodes to centralized data storage, most software solution providers offer a top-down approach with centralized gateway with direct access to database, remote manufacturing sites connect to gateway using different forms of industrial connectors like OPC servers, OLE interface, socket connections using industrial protocols. DMZ segregation provides security for remote sites.

There are approaches within manufacturers to implement a standalone systems or integrated systems, standalone systems are specific to control systems where an external data integration is not an option, hence will require a integrator to custom develop external data integration to pass data collection information back to an external data server. There are integrated systems which automatically collect the data from control systems and have interface data collector interfaces available for most control systems.

Data Collection

ControlSoft Canada, have expertise in data collection implementing standalone to integrated systems in most manufacturing industries, we can build custom data collection system quickly with very minimum programming requirements, and supports most manufacturing control systems within a reasonable pricing range and budget. Our team has expertise with most MES system and provide data integration expertise using Ignition or v Node or custom build application which can seamlessly bring manufacturing shop floor data information into server-side databases.

Analytic and Analysis tools availability –

Data collection forms bases of requirements for manufacturers to perform a meaningful analysis on performance knowledge of various sensors and manufacturing processes, without data collection analysis on performance is impossible. There is various analysis software available on a local server side and cloud based. For Manufacturers within todays industry 4.0, industrial automation companies like GE & Rockwell provide excellent cloud bases analytics software tools.

Get a Free Consultation