Smart products and networked factories
Bietigheim-Bissingen, October 2016 – Digital transformation enables smart processes, products, factories and services. In Germany this trend is referred to as Industry 4.0. Digital transformation is nothing new at Dürr. Digitization, automation and connectivity have long been a part of Dürr and its products. The digital@DÜRR strategy is accelerating this development.
In production processes of the future, capacity bottlenecks will be a thing of the past. "Global industry is about to undergo a fundamental transformation", says Manfred Weil, head of Dürr's Paint and Final Assembly Systems division. Every new Dürr system or machine already sends out and receives a large amount of data, which is systematically evaluated and analyzed. The aim of big data analytics is to better control and optimize production processes.
Dürr is promoting the Industry 4.0 megatrend in four different areas, which are referred to as "smart" due to their integrated intelligence: smart products, smart services, smart factories and smart processes.
The first component consists of smart products. These include products which will be able to gather their own information necessary to detect and complete the production task. "They report servicing requirements at an early stage, which enables predictive maintenance work to be carried out and ensures a high level of productivity", says Dr. Hans Schumacher, head of the Application Technology division.
An example of what this could look like is the intelligent dosing pump in painting robots. Dürr's EcoPump9 is self-monitoring and self-regulating. More on this topic can be found here.
The second pillar of digital@DÜRR consists of smart services, which help to analyze and service Dürr systems at the customer's site via the Internet. Dürr's EcoPad tablet PC scans QR codes on machines and, within seconds, provides the customer with technical information or troubleshooting assistance. It also establishes an audio-visual connection to Dürr's 24/7 hotline, if required.
Another example is the digital fingerprint of Schenck RoTec balancing systems, an innovative service tool for status monitoring and predictive maintenance. For more information please click here.
In the age of Industry 4.0, software is becoming increasingly important. It forms the basis of the smart factory, the third component of Dürr's digital strategy. The company has been offering its EcoEMOS MES (manufacturing execution system) for a number of years. To expand this business further and provide it with a modern architectural platform, Dürr acquired MES software company iTAC from Montabaur (Germany) in December 2015. This company specializes in MES systems for networking factories in different industries. Dürr and iTAC now pool their resources in this central Industry 4.0 element. More on this topic can be found here.
Human-robot collaboration is another example of smart factories. This concept is used when the strengths of humans and robots can improve the production result, such as glueing in fuel tanks. The worker starts by cleaning the tank. Then the robot approaches and applies a bead of adhesive more evenly than any human could. The worker then inserts the tank into the car body. Up to now, people have not been able to work within the danger zone of robots for safety reasons. Equipped with appropriate sensors and control concepts, the robot stops if a person gets too close.
Smart processes form the fourth pillar of digital@DÜRR. To illustrate what this means, let's take a look at the powerwall room at Dürr's Bietigheim-Bissingen headquarters. This is where paint systems can be virtually displayed on a wall-sized screen before they are even built. Customers can thus visualize their system at an early stage. Engineers can see where each machine can be accommodated inside the building and whether there might be collisions in the complex structure. This leads to lower costs, fewer errors and shorter planning periods in the subsequent installation.
Dürr subsidiary Schenck RoTec also uses a virtual system to visualize 3D CAD data, whereby computers and video projectors display three-dimensional images around the room. They transport users directly into the respective system or machine environment. Components, machines or systems can be intuitively analyzed in the virtual environment using CAVE technology (computer assisted virtual environment).
Dr. Ralf-Michael Fuchs, head of Schenck RoTec, says: "We use CAVE technology for several purposes, such as for design reviews with customers; in engineering: for ergonomics considerations, among other things; in purchasing: for interface coordination with suppliers; in order execution: for preparing installation and commissioning; and for training customers, employees and service providers.
Another example of a smart process is the commissioning of robot cells for vehicle painting. The virtual, fully digitized commissioning of robot software has been state of the art at Dürr since 2010. Digital remote commissioning has recently become an additional element of the installation process for robot cells. Customers benefit from reduced installation times while getting the quality they are used to.