Stepping Into The Future

EP Editorial Staff | August 1, 2023

Time-sensitive networking advances footwear manufacturing.

When Orisol, Taiwan (Orisol USA, Skowhegan, ME,, a leading provider of automated systems for footwear production, wanted to futureproof its offerings to improve competitiveness, CC-Link IE TSN offered the technology. The company delivers solutions that maximize interoperability, compatibility, and scalability. In line with this aim, Orisol focuses on the development of future-oriented systems that can support the different stages of shoemaking. The resulting innovation delivered speed and responsiveness as well as the connectivity required for smart manufacturing operations.

After learning about the potential of Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN), Orisol was keen to apply the technology to its solutions. TSN can provide the backbone for smart, data-driven operations by supporting the convergence of multiple types of traffic onto a single network. While doing this, is also prioritizes the transfer of time-critical messages, such as control data. 

When Orisol, a leading provider of automated systems for footwear production, wanted to futureproof its offering, CC-Link IE TSN offered the technology.

Body and soles 

Orisol saw its OFA240 series upper-to-sole flash-activator machine as an ideal candidate to benefit from the principles of TSN technology. The system, a key element of footwear assembly lines, uses heat activation to effectively and homogeneously cure adhesives used to bond shoe components together. 

Successful bonding requires accurate and precise heat application. The challenge in this process is the heat-energy distribution that is spread out on the surfaces. It requires the machine to have precise internal communications to regulate the heating energy being released. Also, it needs to monitor functions so the user will know if intervention is needed.

In terms of network requirements, optimum operations for the OFA240 demand suitable controller-to-device (C2D) communications so that a single network architecture can be used so the machine can self-adjust, in real time, all machine operational technology (OT) elements. These elements include vision systems, temperature sensors, heat lamps, switches, indicators, and alarms. 

Since Orisol is focused on digitizing operations to create a smart facility, a network architecture that could also enable controller-to-controller (C2C) communications, in addition to integration with higher level information technology (IT) systems, was required. This allows machines to operate in parallel to share information and effectively collaborate to optimize product quality, efficiency, and productivity. TSN provided a single solution to address all these requirements, ultimately supporting convergence of the OT and IT domains. It also offered the possibility for multiple machines to be integrated into the company’s proprietary production monitoring and remote maintenance systems, such as its Production Data Collection System (PDCS) and Remote Operation Maintenance Platform (ROMP).

CC-Link IE TSN was selected as the system’s network technology. This is the first open industrial Ethernet to provide TSN functions, therefore ensuring convergence and determinism. In addition, it offers gigabit bandwidth to maximize the volume of data traffic that can be sent simultaneously. It is supported by leading global automation vendors with a range of compatible products. 

The benefits delivered by the solution were significant. The network’s gigabit bandwidth led to internal communications speed increasing 220 times. This meant that execution time was shortened by seven times and application by 12 times. CC-Link IE TSN also enabled machines to be synchronized to an accuracy of 1 msec. This provided almost instant data sharing, delivering precise communications within the machine itself, to other devices and to IT systems, such as PDCS and ROMPS. These provide remote monitoring and control, allowing operators to have a real-time overview of the process as well as promptly intervene if anomalies are discovered. The result was a system that fully addresses the demands of Industry 4.0 technology.

According to Tom Burke, Global Strategic Advisor for CC Link Partner Association (CLPA), “Orisol’s OFA240 series flash-activator machine is an excellent example of how TSN can be applied to deliver significant machine performance improvements and therefore offer a unique value proposition. We are extremely proud to see CC-Link IE TSN being used to enable significant productivity increases and therefore deliver an enhanced competitive advantage to Orisol and their customers.”  EP

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