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5/21/24 10:27 AM2 MIN READ

Unlocking Your Machine’s Data with Banner Engineering

Unlocking Your Machine’s Data with Banner Engineering


Unlocking Your Machine's Data


A Deep Dive with Banner Engineering's Sean Foley

Welcome to the world of advanced automation, where the intricacies of modern manufacturing meet cutting-edge technology. In this feature, we delve into Banner Engineering through the insights of Sean Foley, Global Product Manager at Banner Engineering.


The Path to Innovation: Sean Foley's Journey

Sean Foley's story is one of passion for problem-solving and a love for automation. During Sean’s childhood, his family moved from England to Minnesota, where he has lived since. Early on Sean developed a fascination with solving puzzles which led to his love for math and science. “I think I've always had the attitude, one of the best advice that was given to me is to kind of look at problems, whether it's a math problem or other type of problem as puzzles. And so I always liked solving puzzles.” This intrigue led him to pursue Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, setting the stage for a career that would blend his love for puzzles with practical applications. His early career involved an eye-opening internship at an industrial automation company, sparking a lifelong passion for this field. From application engineering to marketing roles to product management to trainer, Sean's trajectory has been marked by a profound commitment to innovation and customer-centric product development. Sean then joined Banner Engineering in 2001 as Global Product Manager.


Banner Engineering, a stalwart in the automation industry and has been revolutionizing manufacturing environments since its inception in the 1960s. Founded by Bob Fayfield, a visionary engineer, Banner started with a sharp focus on sensors, laying the foundation for what would become a broad spectrum of advanced technological solutions. 

Bob Fayfield's innovative spirit not only kickstarted the company but also set a precedent for excellence and ingenuity in engineering. Under his leadership, Banner Engineering swiftly expanded its product offerings and technological capabilities, establishing itself as a leader in the automation sector. Headquartered in Plymouth, Minnesota, Banner Engineering boasts a significant global presence. With channel partners distributed worldwide, its products have a universal impact, reaching markets in China, Europe, and various regions across Asia. This extensive network underscores Banner's role as a global influencer in the automation industry.


From its humble beginnings, Banner Engineering has grown into a powerhouse with a diverse array of over 10,000 products. Sensors, the cornerstone of Banner's product line, are highly engineered to meet diverse industrial requirements. Over the years Banner has branched out into safety products and controls to lighting products which are known for “giving your machine, giving your factory a voice with visual factory elements,” said Foley. Most recently they have expanded their portfolio to Remote I/O and Snap Signal, these systems represent the cutting edge of industrial wireless technology and data collection infrastructure. Snap Signal is pivotal in providing line-powered access to crucial data, reflecting Banner's commitment to innovation. The evolution from a company primarily focused on sensors to a multi-faceted industry leader highlights its adaptability and forward-thinking approach. As it continues to expand its product lines and delve into new technologies, Banner Engineering remains at the forefront of the automation industry. The company's dedication to providing high-quality, innovative solutions is evident in every product it offers, from the smallest sensor to the most complex safety systems. With a legacy of excellence and a commitment to future growth, the company is poised to maintain its status as a leader in global automation solutions.


Snap Signal: Transforming Data Collection

Snap Signal by Banner Engineering represents a groundbreaking approach to industrial data collection and management. Developed from an original concept by the company’s leadership, Snap Signal serves as an overlay network, seamlessly integrating with existing control systems without altering underlying PLC codes. This innovative solution enables end users to access critical data from existing machines and equipment, enhancing operational efficiency across manufacturing environments.

Banner Snap Signal

Primarily targeted at End Users within the manufacturing sector, Snap Signal is designed to cater to facility managers, production engineers, and operational executives. These professionals seek reliable and efficient methods to access data for making informed, data-driven decisions, crucial for optimizing production and reducing downtime. “The long-term return of investment comes from analyzing that data over time, using that data, collecting that data, and then analyzing that data.” mentioned Foley.


Sensors and Data Integration of Snap

Snap Signal uses various sensors that can be newly installed or integrated with existing ones to monitor different parameters such as vibration, temperature, and pressure. Data from these sensors is collected and unified through a serial RS-45 protocol before being transmitted to the DXM controller—Banner's data consolidation hub. From there, it can be routed to various destinations including Banner’s cloud services, external cloud platforms like AWS IoT Core, or directly into SCADA systems, HMIs, and PLCs for further processing and analysis. Sean notes that by “Adding a vibration sensor to a motor, so you start to get the baseline of that data. And if that data starts, vibration or temperature data starts to go above or below a certain threshold, having that data at your fingertips to say, oh, I just got a notification via Microsoft Teams or a text message because I have a data collection system in place that automatically notifies me, almost like a check engine light if those vibration or temperature thresholds go too high.


Snap’s Compatibility and Installation

The system is designed to be highly adaptable, suitable for both new and legacy equipment. It underscores the value of IoT not only in new installations but significantly in retrofitting existing, sometimes decades-old, equipment—often referred to as brownfield sites. This flexibility makes Snap Signal an ideal choice for manufacturing facilities looking to leverage existing assets.

Banner Snap Signal Machine Layout

Brand Agnosticism and Scalability with Snap Signal

One of Snap Signal’s key features is its brand-agnostic capability, facilitated by converters that handle various signal types from multiple sensor brands. This flexibility, combined with the scalability offered by the RS-45 protocol, allows for extensive sensor integration and data collection from numerous devices, fostering a versatile and expansive data monitoring environment.


Controller Languages and Integration of Snap

Snap Signal supports multiple controller languages, including Ethernet IP, Modbus TCP, PROFINET, and MQTT among others. This multiprotocol support ensures that the data can be flexibly and efficiently routed to the necessary platforms, enhancing its usability and application across various industrial environments.


Defining Pain Points and Overcoming Roadblocks

Understanding the critical assets and operational pain points of end users is central to the deployment of Snap Signal. The technology is designed to identify and alert about potential failures before they lead to significant downtime, thus offering almost instantaneous ROI. “Sometimes it's a case where it takes for them to maybe have a catastrophic failure or downtime event for them to actually look at installing this. I think it's good to be proactive with, with this technology and adding it, you know, obviously before you have some of those events, but sometimes it takes almost those, those failures to make, to drive an organization to start looking at this technology, to budget it out.” notes Foley. However, determining the ROI and securing the budget for initial implementation are common roadblocks. Additionally, the plethora of competing platforms and the necessity for training and education on Snap Signal’s integration and use are challenges that need addressing to maximize its adoption and effectiveness.


Goals and Objectives of End Users

End users of Snap Signal typically aim to reduce operational downtime, enhance delivery times, and optimize workforce efficiency. “I think you could walk into any End User, any company, and they'll have initiatives in place where they're trying to reduce their downtime events. They're trying to improve their delivery times. They're trying to optimize their labor force. And they can't do that really without access to data. I mean, we call it, you know, you can't really manage what you don't measure. And so with Snap Signal, we could give them access to that data very easily. And we call the strategy we often like to use, it's called Think Big, Start Small, and Scale Fast.” says Sean. The ability to start small and scale quickly allows organizations to gradually build confidence in the system. For instance, beginning with monitoring a single motor and expanding as the system proves its value helps in achieving specific operational goals such as reducing facility downtime by significant percentages or improving overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). 

Snap Signal is transforming the landscape of industrial data collection by providing a powerful, scalable, and brand-agnostic system that integrates seamlessly with both new and existing equipment. As organizations become more data-centric, tools like Snap Signal are essential in navigating the complexities of modern manufacturing environments, ensuring operational efficiency, and achieving substantial ROI. By addressing the common hurdles and emphasizing the importance of starting small, Snap Signal paves the way for manufacturers to fully harness the potential of their operational data.


In the fast-paced world of industrial automation, the need for streamlined, efficient,Banner Remote IO and flexible control systems is paramount. Banner Engineering is at the forefront of this revolution, offering cutting-edge Remote I/O solutions that are transforming how machines are built and operated. With their innovative use of IO-Link technology, Banner is simplifying control cabinets and wiring, providing many benefits reshaping the machine design landscape.


Traditional control systems are often bulky and complex, with hundreds of wires connecting numerous sensors and actuators to PLCs. Sean recounts “I've also seen cases where there's just so many wires and troubleshooting becomes an issue. Imagine having to troubleshoot, you know, sometimes over time, a control cabinet can be looked like spaghetti with all those wires going back. And if you say have 128 sensors going back to your PLC, each sensor has four wires or three wires. They have to land individually on your input cards. You know, that's 500 wires. That's 500 opportunities to make a wiring mistake and troubleshooting, you know, all those different wires, it becomes time consuming.” This complexity not only consumes significant space but also increases the risk of errors and makes troubleshooting a tedious task. Banner's Remote I/O solutions, featuring IO-Link hubs and masters, dramatically simplify this scenario. By centralizing connections and reducing the number of wires needed, these devices help in shrinking control cabinet sizes and significantly cut down on installation and maintenance time.


Standardizing Connectivity and Reducing Wiring Errors

One of the key advantages of Banner’s IO-Link solutions is the standardization of connectivity. Utilizing M12 connectors, these systems standardize and reduceRemote IO on 6 Axis Robot wiring complexities, making device replacements and diagnostics far less cumbersome. The introduction of side exit ports on devices also addresses cable bend issues, enhancing the durability and reliability of connections.


Stackable Blocks and Space Efficiency

Banner's Remote I/O products feature a unique stackable design, allowing multiple blocks to be mounted together. This design is particularly beneficial in applications where space is at a premium, enabling more components to fit within smaller footprints without compromising functionality.


Enhanced Diagnostics and Programmability

Advanced programmability is another cornerstone of Banner’s Remote I/O offerings. Their IO-Link masters come equipped with capabilities for scripting and on-the-fly adjustments, which can be crucial for applications where quick changes are needed. These features allow for direct on-device logic processing, potentially eliminating the need for a separate PLC in simpler systems.


Robust Data Management and Remote Configuration

The integration of IO-Link technology within Banner's systems facilitates enhanced data management and the ability to change device configurations remotely. This capability ensures that machines are always running with the most up-to-date settings, which is essential for maintaining optimal performance and reducing downtime. Additionally, the data storage feature within IO-Link masters simplifies device replacements by automatically configuring new sensors.


The Benefits of Decentralized Automation

Banner's approach to decentralized automation with network I/O blocks further exemplifies their innovative spirit. By decentralizing the control system, only essential connections are routed back to the main PLC via Ethernet, vastly reducing the physical and managerial overhead associated with traditional systems. This not only enhances the scalability of control systems but also improves their overall resilience and efficiency.


Banner Engineering's Remote I/O solutions offer a comprehensive suite of advantages that are indispensable in today’s industrial settings. From reducing physical footprints to improving system reliability and flexibility, these innovations are not just meeting the demands of modern automation but are setting new standards for the future of machine building. Whether you're a machine builder or an end-user, integrating Banner’s Remote I/O technology can lead to significant improvements in performance, cost efficiency, and operational simplicity.


The Future of Banner Engineering

Looking ahead, Sean is excited about the potential applications of Banner's technologies in new industries such as entertainment, theme parks. “There's automation all over. And yeah, absolutely. Be on the lookout for the sensors and the lighting and the controllers. It's all over those roller coasters.” mentions Sean. And when it comes to data collection that brings to mind artificial intelligence. Sean says “A lot of people are kind of just still wrapping their heads around artificial intelligence. But I think it's going to be real in the next several years as companies start incorporating this data collection, formulating their IOT strategies long term and Snap Signal in particular and some more industrial wireless products, how that'll play into those discussions for giving them the data that they need.” Overall the versatility and adaptability of Banner's offerings make them suitable for a wide range of industries, promising continued growth and innovation with whatever comes next.


As companies like Banner Engineering continue to innovate and adapt, the potential for significant efficiency improvements and cost savings in industries worldwide becomes increasingly evident. Stay tuned for what’s next by connecting by subscribing to Calvary Robotics newsletter or following us on social media. You can also click our resources link below for insights about robotics and automation!

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