If a large number of items such as printers and robots are networked and centrally managed as production equipment, system managers can reduce their workload while also quickly providing support over a network. Epson used to develop management systems for each product. Later, we built a centralized administrative management system that enables system managers to centrally manage multiple machines In this way, Epson has become able to provide higher maintenance and management efficiency that satisfies the customers' requirements.
When Epson printers and robots were introduced to a factory, the system manager first needed to configure the motion and other controls of an individual product. Then, after
starting operation, the maintenance person needed to physically check the status and conditions of each product. If a product failure occurred on a management system that was not networked, Epson support engineers had to visit the actual site to check and understand the mode of failure.
Since the engineers first figured out the failure on-site, they often needed to shuttle back and forth to finish repairs if they did not bring the necessary parts. Production
lines were stopped during that time, causing a drop in production efficiency.
If Epson products were managed in a block using management software, the burden for corrective maintenance and inspections performed by the system managers would be significantly reduced. In addition, if Epson support engineers could remotely assess conditions, maintenance work efficiency would be increased, offering an advantage in terms of production efficiency.
To solve these problems, machines need to be operated online and, therefore, we developed Epson Device Admin as a centralized management system. The system enables central management of large printers mainly used in factories by connecting them on an intranet. Epson Device Admin displays the status of printers, such as the remaining paper and ink volume, on the screen, and system managers no longer need to physically go around the printers to check them. Epson's support engineers can also understand the status of printers remotely, helping them perform maintenance work more quickly and efficiently.
The centralized administrative management system was also needed for robots used in factories. Epson therefore developed a new machinery management platform that is commonly used for various types of products based on the Epson Device Admin.
The target products connected on a private network (intranet) are managed using model management software that is used for central management of corrective maintenance. Data collected from printers is managed on a server and linked with Epson's support engineers. To be versatile as machinery management software, the system was divided into three parts: a front-end part that users operate, a back-end part that collects data from products and externally shares data with Epson's support engineers, and an agent part that communicates with products and operations.
Each function is built as a module and the necessary service is provided in collaboration with software that is developed according to the user's requirements and environment. The server configuration can also be modified depending on the environment.
We have achieved a highly versatile system in order to flexibly respond to the diversification of production control systems brought about by changes such as distributed production and remote maintenance management.
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We developed the Epson Robot Management System based on the centralized management system platform.
Users can centrally manage multiple robots connected by intranet using a computer or smartphone. They can retrieve data from each robot, update firmware and operation programs, and perform other tasks from the system. Even in environments where different types of robots are used together (e.g. 6-axis robots and SCARA robots), up to 200 units can be centrally managed on the same network. In the future, the system will be compliant with OPC-UA, an industry standard protocol for IoT, and we will develop remote robot management and failure prediction systems to install in various products.
Establishing a platform for the centralized administrative management system broadens potential uses not only for printers and robots but also for other products. We will continue to contribute to the improvement of productivity by responding to the growing need for distributed printing and online management from both the hardware and software end.