What matters is to win a new heart every minute, 300,000 times a year: the heart of the motorist who gets into his new car for the first time, caressing its paintwork gently before he does so. Its uncompromising quality is ensured in a Dürr paint shop by up to 130 robots that apply about 10 kilograms of paint per car body. Another 40 robots are deployed for sealing and conveying technology and must also work with meticulous precision to ensure unrivaled results. The technology is managed by invisible hands: EcoEMOS is the name of the software likewise created by Dürr. It ensures that in spite of the large variety of models, in a modern carmaking plant each and every car body leaves the paint shop not only with the right paint but also with a perfect finish.
Data points are processed by Dürr’s EcoEMOS software in a large automotive factory
“The iTAC.IoT.Suite software is one of Germany’s leading Industry 4.0 platforms.” (Experton Group)
Machines communicate directly with each other via the Internet of Things
The manufacturing execution system controls the entire factory
factories are already using iTAC’S MES
terabytes a day are sent into the cloud by the factory of the future
Big data analysis forms the basis of a cloud-enabled MES
Smart factories is one of the four fields of the digital@DÜRR strategy
Extends the service life of machines by predicting potential damage
“Since the turn of the millennium, we have gradually expanded our plant control systems into a complete manufacturing execution system,” explains Holger Thienst, Director for Control Systems and MES at Dürr. A manufacturing execution system (MES) represents the linchpin between the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) of individual units of machinery and the IT systems for administration of the entire factory. For one thing, this can be used to pass on information on pending orders to the individual facilities – in view of the many configurations possible in automotive engineering, this represents a particularly important task. For another, the MES is the central nerve tract for all information generated in individual factory sections and used by the plant management in consolidated form in order to run the factory. This provides the shop manager with a target-actual comparison of unit numbers for each individual step of the manufacturing and assembly process. The range of EcoEMOS functions has been extended step by step, for instance to include software modules that monitor the condition of machinery and equipment and automatically trigger an alarm when disruptions strike. “In the process, we have always made use of our core expertise: being plant engineers, we know exactly what goes on inside each individual piece of machinery,” says Thienst.
Change of scene. A modern, somber-looking office building near the Intercity Express railroad station in Montabaur; many young people and even more screens. The general atmosphere gives the impression of a start-up rather than a mechanical engineering firm. And yet the software enterprise iTAC located here has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dürr Group since end-2015. iTAC founder Dieter Meuser had a simple idea back in 1998: he wanted to transfer the new Internet technologies at the time to factories. He was not always taken seriously, he says with a smile. “Only since the term Industry 4.0 was coined have such ideas had a chance of succeeding.” First of all, iTAC developed a classic MES that has meanwhile become a standard in electronic manufacturing of numerous automotive suppliers: iTAC’s MES is in use in over 220 factories today. The next milestone has now been reached in the form of the Industry 4.0 software iTAC.IoT.Suite, combining the strengths of Dürr’s EcoEMOS and iTAC’s MES – and thanks to additional modules such as big data analysis, it can accomplish a whole lot more. “A first pilot application is scheduled to be launched this year,” says Ullrich Möllmann, Product Manager for EcoEMOS. “We are combining the system landscapes step by step and thus accompanying our customers on their route to Industry 4.0.”
Configured in this way, the IoT Suite not only ensures smooth data exchange, it also thinks ahead: when will which pieces of machinery need to be serviced and therefore not be available? How can existing orders continue to be processed? Where could errors occur in the process, and how can these be avoided? These are tasks conventionally handled by humans – on the basis of incomplete information. If, in contrast, historical and current data is browsed in search of the answer using big data and artificial intelligence, forecasts are considerably more reliable. Such tools serve to enrich the classic functionality of the MES – and are offered as additional modules within the iTAC.IoT.Suite. For instance, iTAC collaborates with data experts of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and other research institutions on self-learning algorithms that enable process-specific analyses to be performed in electronic manufacturing.
An important question for the factory IT of the future is: what is still being computed locally, and what on the server? And who is the owner of the data on the server? It is clear that large data volumes can only be stored on large servers – in most cases, therefore, in the cloud. “As a rule, we’re going to see hybrid cloud systems,” explains Meuser. Particularly sensitive data is stored separately on servers located on the company’s own premises. Alternatively, however, the MES will also be offered as a fully cloud-based suite for the Internet of Things. This may be interesting for SMEs whose IT budget does not allow them to purchase servers and databases with a required availability class of 3, equivalent to 99.999 percent.
As a solution provider for the smart factory, Dürr is constantly expanding its portfolio. For instance, in December 2016, iTAC took over the software house DUALIS, which specializes in advanced planning and scheduling systems. Systems of this kind are deployed in fine-tuning production facilities – to determine, for example, in which sequence pre-assembly work must be carried out to ensure the smooth running of the main assembly line. Moving forward, the DUALIS solution will be integrated into the iTAC software.
According to experts, it will take years before the vision of a self-regulating, fully networked factory becomes a reality. Senior Manager Thienst already sees Dürr in pole position today: “With innovative software and maximum industry experience, we will be able to lead our customers into the new production era,” he confirms. “Thanks to the stage being set right now, we will also be one of the leading providers for IoT platforms.”
Production facilities are already well networked horizontally. The added benefit of digitization is the vertical networking of commercial and administrative systems, the manufacturing execution system and even individual plant controls. This results in an end-to-end data flow from customers’ orders all the way through to machinery control. A second key feature is how to deal with the data generated in production, which will be collected and evaluated within a cloud.
Thanks to intelligent data analysis, the causes of production errors can be identified better and faster. This enhances quality, reducing rework time and therefore costs. For us as a plant engineering firm, there is a further aspect to consider: we can monitor the performance of a factory type worldwide. This helps us address the actual conditions of use even more effectively when further developing hardware and software.
Yes, definitely. We can see ourselves developing from a classic mechanical and plant engineering firm into an enterprise in which software solutions are becoming a key element of our portfolio. Of course, our focus is clearly on the Internet of Things (IoT). We have therefore developed an IoT framework on a centralized basis for Dürr. This defines the digital capabilities we will require for future business models. On this basis, the divisions can then offer individually tailored, industry-specific platforms.
The process engineer has been working at Dürr’s IT department since 1999. In 2009 she became responsible for the Group’s global IT operations.
» Thanks to intelligent data analysis, the causes of production errors can be identified better and faster. This enhances quality, reducing rework time and therefore costs. « Ursula Ziwey, VICE PRESIDENT GLOBAL IT