"This is an open interface with other devices and non-Siemens devices … giving us relevant data within the process," Herzinger said. "The task is to define key performance indicators on a global network … to define what is essential and what is not."
Metrics measured by the OPC UA include press pressure, temperature and vacuum levels.
The OPC UA comes standard as part of Wickert's hydraulic press sales package, and in the future, the company will offer the cross-platform data exchange as an option for all press systems, in compliance with VDMA standards.
The solution incorporates the entire installation up to the data transfer point. From there, the data can be integrated into production control systems, Herzinger said.
"It gives production managers a clear overview of the most important machine data," he said. "This helps to ensure the quality of the cycle, that (certain parameters) are within the correct tolerances.
"It also helps us to realize trends. If performance is getting worse, this can tell us something. And the data should then be available for quite a long period of time, putting the customer in a position to see how a certain product has been manufactured."
Most importantly, Herzinger said, is that the data for a given product is assimilated before, during and after the production process.
"It's not worth the effort if we do not have the complete picture," Herzinger said. "This is critical, and it is a field of increasing innovation … where three-dozen smaller steps can help us find a better production solution. All of this is expected to grow."
As Wickert makes the push toward more fully automated systems for its presses, especially as it relates to pharmaceutical applications, Herzinger sees fewer and fewer errors in the mold production processes.
"The benefit in realizing automatization is not only in labor costs, but in getting rid of errors," he said. "The biggest enemy in the process is the human being, and this is the main driver for automatization."
Older presses can be retrofitted with the OPC UA. Typically, the cost to do so is related to the age of the machine: The older the machine, the more expensive the retrofit. The company recently retrofitted 60 presses "of different generations" with the OPC UA.