You likely have your fair share of smart or Internet-connected devices such as a smartphone, wireless scanner that sends your images to the cloud, or a fitness-tracking device. Your workplace may have industrial equipment connected to the “Industrial Internet of Things,” sending readings, performance reports, and alerts to managers and technicians. Some of these devices may even communicate with other devices, automating any number of tasks. Add smart laser marking control boards to the list.
What are Smart Laser Marking Control Boards
Smart laser marking control boards are hardware devices that can connect to a network and communicate with other devices such as programmable logic controllers. These control boards look similar to traditional motherboards that are found in PCs. Also, the control boards make marking systems much smarter.
For example, an article in Industrial Lasers explained that it’s not unusual for manufacturers to have dedicated terminals used to control each piece of laser equipment (source: Industrial Lasers, Laser marking Joins the Industrial Internet of Things). With such an arrangement, any change to the laser-marking job has to be made at each dedicated terminal. This isn’t a simple matter of clicking a few buttons. The jobs need to be downloaded and initiated, which can become quite tedious and time-consuming.
If you’re thinking this is highly inefficient, you’re right. With smart laser marking control boards in place, just one programmable logic controller is used to control the entire network of connected and appropriately equipped laser devices.
This innovation is likely to change laser-marking, making it much more efficient moving forward. Just as you can print a document to a network printer, factory workers are able to send laser jobs to marking devices — all without having to individually configure each device’s workstation.
While the control boards make it possible to download, select, and send marking jobs to marking devices, there’s more to the story than hardware alone. Software, remote APIs, and Ethernet IP communications enable the exchange of information.
Advantages of Smart Laser Marking Control Boards
Though the technology is complex, the advantages are simple:
- There’s no need for individual computers to manage each marking device. This simplifies marking dramatically, improves efficiencies, and reduces energy consumption and costs.
- Each smart control board simply plugs into the network, becoming a part of the Industrial Internet of Things. These control boards replace the individual PCs, allowing your marking devices to be controlled remotely.
- There’s less downtime associated with laser marking job changes. Let’s say you have ten marking devices handling your laser jobs and that it takes an average of 10 minutes to download and initiate a new job. When changing the job, you’d have to download the new job ten times on ten different computers as well as perform the same initiation steps on each computer. Using our hypothetical 10 minute time frame, that’s over an hour and a half of time spent. The more devices you have, the more time is lost.
The advancement of technology has made its way to laser marking, opening the door to smarter devices and improved productivity. Laser manufacturers such as Coherent are leading the way in advancing industrial, scientific, and now, “smart,” laser technologies (source: Coherent, HighLight D-Series).
1. Industrial Lasers, “Laser marking Joins the Industrial Internet of Things,” http://www.industrial-lasers.com/articles/print/volume-29/issue-6/features/laser-marking-joins-the-industrial-internet-of-things.html
2. Coherent, “HighLight D-Series,” http://www.coherent.com/products/?1993/HighLight-D-Series