Oh No! What Happened?
by Rob Goldiez, on Jan 21, 2021 1:16:22 PM
Beacon to the Rescue
One of the goals of automation is operational consistency while freeing up your key people to do their best work. To achieve this goal, you must be able to walk away from your automation with the confidence to know immediately if your robot needs help. We live in a connected world; your robot should too!
To help you achieve automation utopia, we’re excited to release Beacon Events to all Beacon customers. Beacon Events combine system events (power on, power off, protective stop, and more) and custom events (anything you can imagine, specific to your application). You choose what to do with these events, such as send you a push notification, chart them in the Beacon app, or even notify you in an external system, such as Slack! Read on to learn more about Beacon Events. Learn more about Beacon here.
Origins of Beacon Events
Absolutely vital to the success of any automation project is keeping that work cell running smoothly. To do this effectively, remotely, and at scale you need the right software tools. We have learned, through our own trials and tribulations, what’s needed and what’s not.
We have been cloud connecting our Universal Robot cobots for more than 5 years, and our cobot applications are working tirelessly at customer facilities across North America. Our business model (Robots-as-a-Service) allows customers to fire a robot that they no longer need or is no longer providing value to their business. This heightens our need to deliver continuous value to customers, including real-time and ongoing support.
Since our founding, we have built the software to cloud connect our cobots so that we can understand how our cobots are delivering value (or not!) to our customers. We also expose this data to our customers. These tools allow us to monitor production data and quality data as an application dictates, track protective stops (aka collisions), and send custom push notification events to customers when their robot needs attention (e.g., out of parts, need help clearing an outbound conveyor, etc).
With Beacon (and Beacon Events), you can now have these superpowers too! 🦸🏽
Supercharge Your Cobot with Beacon Events
Our team has honed a unique set of skills and software technology that has culminated in Beacon Events. And you can take advantage of our experience for free! Let’s dig into what you can do with Beacon Events.
With no effort on your part, all Beacon-connected cobots are reporting system events. System events are common to all applications, regardless of how they are programmed, and require absolutely zero work on your part. System events include online, offline, robot power on, robot power off, protective stop, and emergency stop. Beacon automatically tracks the occurrence of all of these events.
Oftentimes you want to capture events specific to your application. These could be events like “out of work”, “CNC machine needs tool change”, or “please empty outbound conveyor”, to name a few real-world examples. Other times you want to track data from your process, such as tracking parts produced, dimensions of a feature that a camera or sensor is capturing, or reject rates.
With a few small tweaks to your Universal Robots Polyscope (or URScript) program, you can easily tailor custom events to your needs and sprinkle in custom events throughout your program to make your application come alive. Basic events (like “out of work”, etc) can be added easily through the Beacon URCap. More sophisticated custom events that may include program variables and/or IO state can be added with a single line of URScript (see examples recipes here).
As you’re adding custom events to your application, you will group them with logical names. For example, you may categorize a group of events as “errors”, another group of events as “production stoppage”, and yet another group of events as “maintenance”. You’ll see why this is powerful shortly!
Often you want to know (immediately!) when certain events occur (protective stop, out of parts, etc). With the Beacon application, you can decide which groups of events should alert you with a push notification. For example, a maintenance supervisor might want to be alerted for all “maintenance” events and emergency stops. The manufacturing engineer might want to get notified on protective stops and “production stoppage” events. Each Beacon user opts in to relevant events.
External Systems, such as Slack
Sometimes teams use other systems for team communications and running their business. Beacon has support for notifying these external systems when events occur. Like push notifications, your Beacon administrator can choose which events should be forwarded on to an external system that you define.
One example of this is Slack integration. You may want protective stops from your Beacon-connected cobot to post a message to a Slack channel that your team uses. This is a breeze to set up with Beacon!
Or, maybe you want to report production data to your ERP/MRP or BI application. If your system supports inbound webhooks, you could have Beacon send event data from your cobot application to other systems your business relies on!
Support for external systems is in early beta. If you have interest in this capability now, please reach out to us to learn more.
Certain event data is better suited for charts, not notifications. And now you can now create beautiful, custom charts with Beacon!
Charts live in the context of a Beacon team. That means all team members can see and interact with charts on the Home tab of a team. Charts can be created and edited by users that have a role of Team Manager or Team Editor on that particular team.
With Beacon, you’re able to easily chart system events and custom events. For example, you may want a chart of protective stops, by hour, over the last 24 hour - easy! You may also want to track production data (parts produced) by day over the week - no problem! Or, you may want to do something more advanced like track the average force observed (averaged every 15 minutes over the course of the day) for your deburring operation to understand when a tool change is needed - you can do that too!
Charts are built from chart templates so that you can quickly build what you need while leaving the heavy lifting to Beacon. Be sure to let us know if there is something you need; it may be a template away!
Get Beacon Now!
Beacon is a cloud-based software platform that helps you maximize uptime of your cobots from Universal Robot. It requires no hardware and is a breeze to set up. Beacon automatically backs up your critical robot files, allows you to monitor real time IO, variables, and logs. And now, you can create custom events, beautiful charts, and more! Best of all, it’s free!