March 3, 2021

User Story – Detailed Machine-insight with the use of Blackbird

Blackbird can be a solution if you: 

Do you struggle with tools and equipment varying in performance or quality across different production sites?

Does the software update on the machine change the performance of your equipment?

Do you struggle with analysing alignment of I/O signals precise enough on connected equipments?

One of the largest Pharma companies in Denmark is using Blackbird NX1 to test plastic moulding tools and equipment. They were struggling with differentiated performance at different supplier locations.

After some internal investigation they concluded the following:

  • Even though they already were collecting large amounts of data, they were often limited to the data which the machine supplier made available.
  • The existing data only reflects internal production data and does not include outsourced production data or tool manufacturing.
  • It was decided to start up a project aiming to close these gaps in data.

The project was to be carried out by the internal Plastics Processing team in Device Manufacturing Development. An Injection Moulding Process Engineer was heading up this project, where his main goal was to obtain high stability at the lowest possible cycle time for the injection moulding processes.

To help solve the problem, the Blackbird “NX1 Factbird” was introduced to collect data from the IMM (Injection Moulding Machine). The NX1 works independently and non-invasive from any existing systems and is not limited to the in-house existing factory data collection system. Additional digital and analogue signal can be captured from both the IMM and auxiliary equipment from additional standalone sensors or with galvanically separated captured signals from existing sensors. The system is adapted to a large variety of test cases, which is doable in a very short time. The system is adapted to a large variety of test cases and is therefore easy to implement in a short time and in several situations.

Before introducing the NX1, the knowledge on actual movement time; position; pressure and variation, was limited to one set of references compared visually with the current performance of the actual cycle (in the format provided by the IMM as shown in the graph).

Now with the NX1 Blackbird data collection system both digital and analogue signals are collected with 100hz and stored in a cloud solution.

The NX1 Factbird provides knowledge on actual movement for:

  • Time
  • Position
  • Pressure
  • Variation

All parameters are collected in a continued data stream where you can go back and find an exact picture of the performance of any production cycle in the recorded period. The pain-points were easily found in the system subsequently. 

Visualization of analog input in the Blackbird system


Prove that the same tool is operating in the same way in two different IMM’s:

  • 1st run at Mould supplier afterwards at the Pharma company
  • Same process parameter setup running at both IMM’s

Based on the collected data it was possible to compare process operation output in two locations in a much more precise way. Having a digital representation of the operation on the below parameter’s made it possible to prove similar operation in both IMM’s:

  • Pressure
  • Positions
  • Injection
  • Metering time


The goal was to identify and visualize the potential impact of a software update on the IMM. This was done as follows:

  • One tool running at the machine before and after the software update
  • Same process parameter setup running in both SW versions

The use of the Blackbird system to create a data-based representation of the operation before and after the software update where in this case showing that the metering-time and cushion were affected by the software update:


Mapping of timing between difference in I/O events on the IMM and the connected peripheral equipment’s to ensure perfect operation. The Factbird NX1 was connected to:

  • One set of I/O signal coming from IMM
  • Another set of I/O signals returning from peripheral equipment

Afterwards the data was transferred into excel from the Blackbird cloud application and analysed further to perfectly illustrate any relations and potential misalignments between the I/O signals from both the IMMS and the peripheral equipment.

As described in the three user cases, the Factbird NX2, has shown a large variety of possibilities. With the NX1 Factbird you have the choice of 4 analogue and 8 digital channels, or to fit the available outputs on the IMM’s, where the needed number of inputs are chosen in the first test case. As the Omron NX1 PLC is built as a modular system, nearly any other imaginable constellation could be possible. Together with the standard Blackbird connection, device management and cloud application is a very powerful tool for understanding any processes better with use of data. Besides utilizing the Blackbird system as an intelligent data-based representation of the IMM’s operation for trouble shooting etc., we are together with the customer now looking into the possibilities to create an independent quality surveillance system with direct feedback to the IMM’s.

Blackbird - smart data collection

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