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Walter Digitalisation In Practice

Walter Digitalisation In Practice

Digital platforms are being developed on the basis of which users can apply their tools more efficiently, cut back on waste, and minimise tasks that were previously carried out manually. By Walter 

The digitalisation of the manufacturing industry is beginning to take shape. The main objective has already been defined: The continuous digitalisation and networking of all production processes, or “digital manufacturing” for short. In recent months, experts at Walter have come significantly closer to achieving this objective.

Potential for Optimisation

“Of course, digital manufacturing is not an end in itself,” explained Holger Langhans, director of Walter Multiply. “In the discussions that we held with our customers, it always came down to the question of how digitalisation can help them to optimise manufacturing processes (and the processes associated with those), increase productivity and reduce costs.”

Since then, Mr Langhans and his team have implemented some of these opportunities in the form of software modules or applications.

To thoroughly test them and develop them further to ensure they are fit for everyday use, Walter set up two test segments: In Walter’s manufacturing environment, practical tests are running on ten machines, while a further five machines in the Technology Centre have been equipped with the new digital applications.

Sorting It Out

Florian Böpple, an expert in digital manufacturing at Walter: “As things stand today, we have more than a dozen apps undergoing continuous testing. Previous results have shown that we are on the right path here: In a very practical way, they are helping to detect and unlock the potential for optimisation in the process chain, to make the processes significantly more transparent, and to visualise the potential.”

The solutions involved here address topics that, in practice, affect the everyday work of every manufacturing operation: “We are working on reducing waste when it comes to materials and tools. We are optimising interfaces in the process chain, minimising the manual tasks, and improving the interaction between machines — the machine-to-machine connection.”

Optimising Loading

One of these applications, which is already running, is used to optimise loading. The principle is simple: The user first selects the program that they want to run next on the machine. The “Loading Optimisation” app automatically compares the tools that are called up in the manufacturing program with those that are already available on the machine.

The benefits are obvious: The user can see, at a glance, which tools they should set up and which they shouldn’t; this reduces their average manual effort. And, if there is sufficient space on the machine, they can set up all of the tools that are required for the planned orders.

Reducing Costs

The “Tool Cost Drivers” app should interest production managers and controllers in particular. They are informed, at a glance, about what tools create which tool costs. This is made possible by the link between real tool usage data from the machine and the purchase prices for the tools.

The data can then be used to determine which tool has created the highest costs based on its actual usage, and therefore should be top of the priority list when it comes to optimisation. “So, in a very simple way, we are helping to ensure that the average costs per tool are kept transparent,” Mr Böpple said.

Another app called the “Batch-By-Batch Optimisation” has also been in use at Walter for some time now. It analyses the tool that is currently being used and defines any potential for optimisation by using a sophisticated algorithm.

As a result, the application displays a table with the areas that have the potential for optimisation, which is possible depending on the batch and the tool. In addition, the entire potential for savings is displayed as a percentage. This information means that users are well-placed to specifically intervene and to unlock the potential for optimisation.

Many Fields Of Application

More than a dozen of these apps have been developed and used by Walter’s experts since the start of the project (at least a year ago). They are all currently being used in the pilot phase in Walter’s manufacturing.

“Our objective is to establish an application platform that covers the most important topics in the manufacturing environment,” added Mr Langhans. “We are already well on our way to achieving this objective”.

The software modules are so basic in their design that their universal benefits can be delivered to many sectors – far beyond metal cutting. According to Mr Langhans, “Manufacturing companies often have similar areas where “the screws can be tightened”, which they can use to optimise their processes and structures. Our project is, therefore, generating a lot of interest from many business partners.”

In the near future, several pilot customers will begin using the applications and testing them in practice. Their experiences should help the experts at Walter to further develop the software modules based on the customer-specific requirements. And, in the end, this should deliver the required results under as wide a range of conditions as possible.

Open, Modular Approach

The application platform follows an open and modular approach and, as a result, can be flexibly adapted to meet forthcoming requirements. In future, users themselves should be able to add their own applications to the platform. Not insignificant: The data that is collected and generated from this sits on the customer’s servers and not in the cloud. “The company stays in control and decides for themselves who receives what data,” added Mr Böpple.

“Generally speaking, we give our customers an extremely powerful instrument — one which is extremely easy to install and which is simple to operate via the web-based interface.” All applications are based on real-time data, which means that the source of errors, along with optimisation potential, can be very quickly identified. “Our knowledge has been incomparable when it comes to other solutions on the market.”

Walter’s new technology centre in Tübingen, Germany is where the application platform is being operated continuously, thoroughly tested and subsequently enhanced. Customers can also try out all of the applications and the platform for themselves.


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Digital Infrastructure: The Future Of Condition Monitoring

Digital Infrastructure: The Future Of Condition Monitoring

Components equipped with sensors are central to the drive systems used in machines and equipment digital infrastructure. They record data and are key in facilitating digital services, and enable the reduction in machine life cycle losses and life cycle costs. Contributed by Schaeffler

How can sensors help in monitoring rolling bearing performance? Condition monitoring systems help to monitor rolling bearing degradation, and assessment is performed on the component’s criticality and reliability to identify common failure modes.

Such sensors are able to detect changes in components and can sense degradation in advance, enabling the change of components before a failure occurs.

Digital Infrastructure As A Solution

A digital infrastructure that is easy to use helps manufacturers take the step in digitising most, if not all, of their processes. An example of such an infrastructure is the Smart EcoSystem by Schaeffler, with components that are equipped with sensors, application-specific solutions, and cloud-based services. With a digital infrastructure in place, manufacturers and operators of machines and equipment can use and apply the Internet of Things in practice.

From components equipped with sensors through to digital services, the system offers a cloud-based hardware and software infrastructure. The flexible architecture of a system such as this gives manufacturers a simple and application-oriented point of entry into a range of digital services offered by the system, which can be expanded at any time.

Martin Schreiber, regional sales management, Schaeffler, Asia Pacific, said that with the new technology approach of digitalisation, the company intends to create additional value for manufacturers, operators, and end users by offering joint developments in the area of smart components integrating sensors and evaluating units.

Fundamental Enablers

The rolling bearing, its mechatronic derivatives, and the corresponding domain expertise provide the central source of information in this field. Components equipped with sensors are central to the drive systems used in machines and equipment—they record data and are the fundamental “enablers” for these digital services.

The FAG Vario Sense is a new rolling bearing system that is based on standard products and can be configured in a modular fashion with various different sensors. It enables nearly every bearing position to be equipped with sensors. This represents an important step towards a future in which not only complex systems but also simple assemblies and machines will have easy access to digitalisation and the Internet of Things.

Data Analysis Of Components

The Digital Infrastructure recorded data are transferred via a flexible gateway to the cloud—conventional applications may not be able to access the interfaces, but a flexible gateway eases the transition by presenting cloud storage in a way that applications can use.

The sensor-enabled rolling bearing system can then be made usable in the form of digital services. For example, automated rolling bearing diagnosis and remaining useful life calculation can be used to provide precise information on the condition of the bearing and thus of the machine being monitored, which in turn allows specific actions to be recommended. It will even be possible to use real load data to make adjustments to operational machine processes in real-time.

Vibration Monitoring

The rolling bearing system is also cloud-capable, allowing a point of entry into the digitalisation of machines and equipment based on vibration monitoring. The Digital Infrastructure latest version of the system uses a message queue telemetry transport interface to provide a direct link to the system’s cloud or to any other platform based on IBM technology.

It is also possible to communicate with other cloud technologies via the system’s gateway or other alternative gateway solutions using an object linking and embedding for process control/unified architecture interface. The connection between the SmartCheck and the Smart EcoSystem’s cloud is remarkably easy to make via smartphone—by scanning the relevant product’s QR code or using the free app.

This gives the operator access to services such as the automated rolling bearing diagnosis, which is based on the vibration data that the system has gathered from rolling bearings as well as shafts and other rotating components. Depending on the contract, the customer receives access to the condition data, partially-automated recommended actions or, in the case of more complex machines, a connection to the customer service centre which provides specific and individual recommended actions.

For the next stage, it will also be possible to use the SmartCheck to record speed and torque and to classify such load data. In the cloud, a rolling bearing calculation tool (called Bearinx) is then used to compare the real load data with the fundamental load data used during the design phase, and the rolling bearing’s remaining useful life is then calculated on this basis. A potential application for this technology will be in the railway industry.

“For the implementation of digitalisation, such collaborations with manufacturers and operators of machines and equipment are key to the Internet of Things can be used and applied in practice with application-specific solutions,” said Mr Schreiber. “The prerequisite, however, is a holistic and standardised infrastructure from the sensor through to the cloud.”

From Sensor To The Cloud

The rolling bearing is ideally suited for gathering information, since it is located at the heart of the application’s flow of force and thus exposed to all of the loads that occur. By providing domain expertise in specific applications (made available via the cloud), this gives manufacturers a chance to achieve a maximum degree of capacity utilisation and optimise product quality.

The prerequisite for this is a holistic and standardised infrastructure from the sensor through to the cloud.

The Digital Infrastructure rolling bearing is ideally suited for gathering information, since it is located at the heart of the application's flow of force and thus exposed to all of the loads that occur.

The rolling bearing is ideally suited for gathering information, since it is located at the heart of the application’s flow of force and thus exposed to all of the loads that occur.

Digital Infrastructure A sensor-enabled rolling bearing system that is based on standard products can be configured in a modular fashion using a range of different sensors, which allows any bearing position to be equipped with sensors.

A sensor-enabled rolling bearing system that is based on standard products can be configured in a modular fashion using a range of different sensors, which allows any bearing position to be equipped with sensors.



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