Smart Machinery

Smart Machinery

Vision-equipped IoT Controller Makes Industrial Machinery Agile and Efficient

The convergence of physical and digital worlds is giving rise to the Smart Factory and a new generation of industrial machinery. This new era, known as Industry 4.0., focuses on using the Internet of Things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems to streamline manufacturing and business processes, improve versatility and precision, and boost quality and capacity.


However, the challenges in turning a factory into a Smart Factory to achieve these advantages and increase overall competiveness are steep. Challenges include:

  • The sheer variety and size of the machinery involved
  • The complexity of distributed control systems that can include hundreds of control nodes
  • The mulutitde of sensors and other legacy devices in isolated networks never designed for Internet connection


NEXCOM PC-based IoT controller capable of integrating machine vision is coming online—literally. Designed to run on-machine vision solutions while connecting physical manufacturing systems to factory and enterprise networks, NIFE 300, offers IoT connectivity, massive increases in compute and image processing performance, more data storage, and connection to Big Data solutions. Its on-machine vision enables greater precision and coordination in quality inspection, complex machining, analysis of complex processes, and supply chain coordination. All functions run on one unified platform.

Recipe for Precision

The capabilities required for NIFE 300 IoT controller providing on-machine vision can be divided into three functions: machine vision, control and monitoring, and IoT gateway (see figure 1).


An integrated IoT controller and on-machine vision system must provide high-speed imaging and analysis, highly synchronized control and monitoring, and IoT gateway functionality.
Figure 1. An integrated IoT controller and on-machine vision system must provide high-speed imaging and analysis, highly synchronized control and monitoring, and IoT gateway functionality.


To accelerate the roll out of Industry 4.0, NEXCOM offers an on-machine vision IoT controller solution that bolts onto industrial machinery to convert them into cyber-physical systems. Based on 6th generation Intel® Core™ processors, the NIFE 300's open architecture delivers high interoperability to provide a unified infrastructure for the consolidated functionality required of Industry 4.0 systems.


Intended for large-size machinery and distributed control systems with hundreds of control nodes, the NIFE 300 simplifies integration and node expansion. Its PC-based open architecture and EtherCAT I/O enables the NIFE 300 to avoid the limited expandability and poor flexibility that is characteristic of PLCs.


Providing real-time industrial Ethernet, EtherCAT makes an ideal fieldbus for several key reasons:

  • It delivers high-speed transmission and high synchronization through a distributed clock approach for control nodes (subsystem devices).
  • It can control synchronization latency to within a tenth of millisecond.
  • It simplifies the addition of extra function and control nodes, enabling capability expansion at a lower cost.


To address high-mix, low-volume production needs, the NIFE 300 meets PLCopen specifications. For industrial machine manufacturers who are accustomed to IEC 61131-3 standards, it facilitates control programming via CODESYS SoftMotion CNC and NEXCOM NexECM software. Using libraries of reusable logic and motion functionality, control schemes can be developed with less programming effort for fast design of SoftPLC, SoftMotion, and SoftCNC functions.


To facilitate manufacturing management, the NIFE 300's HMI software, JMobile Suite, provides an overview of machining processes and system status. Factory operators can access this view through a local HMI station or remotely through mobile devices and a web-based HMI. They can check settings, operations, and progress nearly anywhere at any time.

An Industrial-Strength Processor Family

The NIFE 300 IoT controller offers a choice of the Intel® Core™ i7-6700TE, i5-6500TE, and i3-6100TE processors, all of which use the Intel® Q170 Chipset. The processors offer the multi-core architecture required to consolidate syst ems and deliver real-time, deterministic performance. They enable the NIFE 300 to handle complex integration logic, motion, and kinetics control tasks in parallel, commanding hundreds of axes or processing hundreds of thousands of I/O tag data.


The combination of EtherCAT technology and the ability of multi-core Intel® processors to support higher channel density and greater multitasking, enables significant reductions in the number of controllers needed on the factory floor. M 16GB achine manufacturers can order the controller with up to DDR4 2133 RAM. PCIe 3.0, USB 3.0, and SATA 3.0 ensure smooth performance of complex control schemes and image acquisition.


The processors' high-powered graphics engine brings dynamic real-time 3D simulation of machining paths as well as Ultra HD 4k graphical display of all sorts of machining information to HMI applications. The built-in Intel® HD Graphics 530 supports the latest graphics APIs, including Direct X 12 and Open GL 4.5, for energy-efficient rendering of 2D and 3D vector graphics. It also provides hardware-accelerated video codecs for fast transcoding.


In the Industry 4.0 era, the industrial machinery must be more intelligent, more agile, and more flexible. The NEXCOM NIFE 300 as a combined IoT controller and machine vision system provides a true Industry 4.0 solution. Tapping the performance of the latest Intel® Core™ processors, the NIFE 300 can help increase manufacturing quality and capacity, accommodate mass customization, and catalyze the fusion of physical factories and business systems for greater insight and process optimization.

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