Universal Machine Interface compared to Programmable Logic Controllers

June 20, 2011   Blog

Customers have asked how a Memex Ax9150 Universal Machine Interface (UMI) compares to a typical Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC). In answering, we are faced with the same dilemma as the apple to a tennis ball. Both the UMI and PLC have digital inputs and outputs, but that is where the comparison ends. A PLC is only a hardware component, whereas the Memex Ax9150 UMI is a full system of hardware, firmware, software applications and configuration tools designed to connect to any machine. The Memex Ax9150 UMI is part of a comprehensive OEE production monitoring and control system that ties the Shop Floor to the Top Floor.

A PLC may have no operator interface and cannot be used with just any machine. In contrast, the UMI is specifically designed to connect with ALL machines. Although the UMI collects most data automatically so that operator input is not mandatory, such input is often used to further increase the system’s functionality, an option not easily accomplished without expensive custom services for a PLC.

Memex’s UMI-based comprehensive production monitoring system consists of the following components:
1) Ax9150 UMI with Ax2200 for Ethernet communications.
2) Mx2000 handheld HMI unit.
3) AxConfig software for logic ladder setup, configuration and communications traffic direction (driver).
4) Production OEE machine monitoring software.
5) AxERP interface to bi-directionally connect the shop floor to the top floor.
6) AxEmail alert system to catch small problems before they become big ones, and allow operators to problem-solve.
7) AxDNC for CNC part file transfer, including large amounts of memory stored at the machine with a file system.

To re-create the Memex Productivity system with just a PLC collecting digital I/O points is virtually impossible. Manufacturers would have to add an HMI plus advanced configuration and custom code development services. Moreover, the cost of developing a PLC-based system for use as an OEE shop floor interface historically has cost $15,000 – 20,000+ per machine and has required extensive, support services, and is most often a non starter for a company due to the overall cost of the project. Compare this reality with the $4,000 per machine cost (installed) of the UMI — it is now affordable.

– Automated data collection from machine
– Accurate and objective information
– Not reliant on operator
– Down Time Log – detailed to the second reporting all down time with reason codes
– Historical data from analysis
– Visibility of machine performance in real-time
– Proactive alerts rather than reactive
– Leading OEE Metrics, automatically
– Minimize “Cultural Impact” on operations
– 20% of cost of PLC based solutions
– No need for barcode scanning (optional)
– Connect to any machine
– Supports OPC standards
– Supports MTConnect standards (serve data from machine to the consumer application)
– Event monitoring
– Send job/shift completion results automatically back to ERP/MES

Memex continues its tradition of serving the discrete manufacturing sector, supplying component hardware, memory upgrades, and visionary shop floor communication technology. Memex products allow a manufacturer to realize the impact of OEE Profitability.