Guest contributor: Marcel Koehler, Bosch Rexroth
Industry 4.0 solutions enable production employees to digitally replicate and implement a continuous improvement process, in order to increase output, improve product quality and reduce costs. But how do I implement a first use-case? How do I ensure the necessary plant transparency? And how do I configure the monitoring and evaluation system? Quite easily – in three steps, with easy to set up tools and tailored support by experienced experts.
The focus is on people.
There are fundamental principles that were in place long before digitalization. Robert Bosch once said: “People should always strive to improve the existing conditions. No one should merely be content with what they have achieved; instead they should always aspire to do what they do even better.” Today, as in the past, the path to continuous improvement of production processes starts with people. Improving quality, reducing costs or boosting output requires at least one person to design, monitor and readjust the continuous improvement process. This person defines the essential information, keeps track of it, evaluates it, intervenes when necessary and draws conclusions, in order to adapt the process. With the arrival of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT), however, we now have new tools at our disposal. Tools such as IoT Gateway, which collects a variety of data without interfering with the machine logic, as well as the analysis and evaluation solutions associated with it, including the Production Performance Manager, which visualizes and evaluates the data, initiates the required actions to be taken, and simplifies the review and adaptation of the improvement process.
Step 1: Workshop in the company
But how do I use these tools? And how do I implement a first exemplary use-case, in order to gradually introduce it? New knowledge is transferred particularly effectively from person to person, just as in Robert Bosch’s time. In line with this principle, an experienced expert comes to the company and demonstrates the typical procedure step by step as part of the Production Performance Starter Kit from Bosch Software Innovations. In the one-day workshop, he explains the digital tools as well as typical use-cases and views the production plant together with the customer. The result of the joint workshop is at least one concrete use-case, including the solution design. The desired benefits will be examined once again and potential hurdles identified. According to the same formula, the customer can later find, develop and implement additional use-cases.
The IoT Gateway collects data from various data sources and natively transfers it to the analysis and evaluation software (Production Performance Manager).
Example of a first production performance use-case
A practical example from a concrete workshop: the condition-based monitoring and maintenance of a heat exchanger. If the heat exchanger becomes clogged due to deposits, approximately 1,500 parts become defective and the plant is forced to shut down for two hours for maintenance. An early warning system should be installed, in order to prevent production rejects and unplanned downtimes. A direct measurement of the flow rate in this plant is not possible, however, which is why temperature sensors are installed before and after the heat exchanger. The IoT Gateway, which is also installed in the line, collects the sensor data and transmits it to the Production Performance Manager, where the temperature difference is determined and compared with threshold values in order to indicate contamination. All measured values are visualized centrally for the employees responsible. When the pipes begin to clog, the system transmits a warning signal or assigns a maintenance ticket to the appropriate qualified personnel.
Step 2: Implement yourself with remote support
In the second step of the Production Performance Starter Kit, a senior consultant from Bosch Software Innovations installs the Production Performance Manager via remote access to the customer’s hardware. In doing so, at least one machine is integrated as a prototype, in order to prepare the user for scaling the solution later on. The demo license is valid for three months and up to ten machines are supported. In addition, four days of remote support are included for the Production Performance Manager. Depending on the technical infrastructure, the shopfloor integration can be done in one of three ways: via individual integrators to be programmed, via PPMP-compatible controllers or system-independent integration via the IoT Gateway from Bosch Rexroth, a universal connector that communicates natively in the open source protocol PPMP in addition to other protocols. Via the web-based user interface, the user manages the sensors, defines preprocessing of the collected data if necessary, and configures forwarding to the target system, in this case to the Production Performance Manager.
Industry 4.0 Showcase with IoT Gateway and Production Performance Manager.
Step 3: On-site user training
After configuring the infrastructure, one last step remains, in which the employees learn to successfully apply the software. This takes place as part of a detailed user training course with an experienced trainer who comes to the location for one day. After this training, participants are able to gain quick access to machine data via visualization, set up simple automated analyses and evaluations, and define intelligent, data-driven actions based on the results. Following the idea of continuous improvement, they are, as the key stakeholders of their digital improvement process, also qualified to review the actions for effectiveness and efficiency. Thanks to the transparency this provides, the user now has a valuable Industry 4.0 tool for their daily work.
Elements of the joint starter kit from Bosch Software Innovations and Bosch Rexroth
Gradual scaling after only three months
After only three months, employees arrive at the decisive point, from which they scale the prepared solution and repetitively connect additional machines and entire lines. As costs steadily decrease, the benefit increases disproportionately in the long run as the transparency gained gradually extends across all bottlenecks. In this manner, the production management of Bosch’s Pecinci plant (Serbia) succeeded in sustainably improving the stability of a complex coating process for wiper arms. The IoT Gateway collects sensor and controller data, such as humidity or paint consumption, and forwards the data to the Production Performance Manager. The software analyzes this data and compares it with defined threshold values, in order to optimize the plant availability of the coating plant, which consists of ten individual stations. A track & trace function, which allows conclusions to be drawn from the finished product about quality-relevant sub-processes, is planned as a follow-up project to the continuous improvement of product quality.
Do not be afraid of software! Try it out now and get started.
With the Production Performance Starter Kit, the hurdles to implementing digital processes for continuous improvement are greatly reduced. Any fears associated with the digital toolkit are completely unfounded. The IoT Gateway and the Production Performance Manager do not require any programming knowledge for daily application. Together with the methodical knowledge and practical support of our experts, companies acquire the knowledge necessary to implement their first use-case, scale the solution and tackle additional improvement projects in only three months. Robert Bosch surely would have relished the idea!