Financing the cloud

The traditional Swedish mechanical workshop Bror Tonsjö AB recently launched an extensive digitalizing process that will push production into the future. The IoT operative system MindSphere is going to connect everything from age-old milling machines to brand new robotic arms to the digitalized cloud.

Within the factory’s walls are hundreds of machines working around the clock; turning, long hole drilling, and milling large quantities of metallic material. Advanced robots twist and lift the different metal components to bring the production to fruition.

Clients who expect top tier quality

Tonsjö works with the automation of metal production for a number of noteworthy industry giants such as Scania, Volvo, Atlas Copo, CAT, and Koenigsegg. These clients expect top tier quality and set strict guidelines for production line capacity and delivery assurance.

 

“Our machine park consists of everything from modern robotic arms to 30-year-old grinding machines,” says Clas Tengström, Bror Tonsjö AB’s Managing Director, as we walk through the halls of the enormous factory in Kode in the South of Sweden, near Göteborg.

Limitless options in the cloud

Tengström does not see any limitations to connecting these machines to the cloud with MindSphere. As of today, Tonsjö is working with Siemens and IT consultancy firm, ÅF, to connect the factory’s machines and wide range of sensors to MindConnect, a hardware that collects and sends uninterrupted datato MindSphere. 

The cloud gives Tonsjö access to powerful computing resources, making it possible to conduct heavy analysis while pulling vital data down in real time. This data is then shown on display panels throughout the whole factory, revealing important statistics and disclosing any warnings of deviation.  

Closely monitored data

Tonsjö can now optimize production by basing it off of data that was once unreachable. Robots, milling machines, metal lathes, and washing machines are hard at work in the factory halls. Now everyone can closely monitor the machinery for speed, efficiency, and any signs of maintenance.

“While the newer machines are built-in with network capability, it’s the older machines that are limited,” he says. To retrieve relevant data for the right format, the machine’s firmware had to be adapted with more sensors mounted.

Decisions based on data

“In addition to the machines; data from business infrastructures, CRM-systems, accounting systems, and plenty more can also be sent to the cloud. It’s about analyzing and processing the data in a way that makes it easy and presentable for our management and operators to make the right decisions,” Tengström says.

He believes that external systems can send relevant data information to both customers and subcontractors in the future. For instance, a logistics company can automatically be notified if a container full of metal shavings is in need of being replaced by an empty container.

 

“This is the land of opportunity. When one machine starts communicating with another machine, which then starts communicating with a third machine. That’s where we see this window of opportunity. Opportunities we currently do not have a grasp over,” says Tengström.

MindSphere has enabled us to receive real time data, which give our operators the opportunity to make informed decisions and get a better overview of today's workload and priorities.
Clas Tengström, Managing Director, Bror Tonsjö AB

Digitalization as team effort 

While digitalization between machines and data is one success factor, the other one is about the people involved. “The project was seen as a journey. It’s not just digitalization or building the next smart industry, it’s about the whole team that’s involved,” says Tengström.

“The employees involved are a key part of the journey. While digitalizing has been well received, the developers have worked closely with employees to create smart solutions that contribute to the overarching picture,” he says.

Improved working environment

With the data collected by Tonsjö, the workload can be equally distributed throughout the day. Deviations and malfunctions are easier to spot ahead of time, leading to a better working environment for the employees. “Of course, this requires an organization willing to adapt a different style of working. And I am confident that we have that,” says Tengström.

Productivity rose thanks to the cloud

"The factory's productivity improves every week," says Tengström. “Compared to last year, productivity is 4 percent higher on the production lines connected to MindSphere. Not everything can be credited to IoT, but digitalization is an important component of many adjustments we have made throughout the project.”

With the payment plan from SFS we can match benefits to costs much more effectively.
Clas Tengström, Managing Director, Bror Tonsjö AB

Challenge accepted without pressure on liquidity

Thanks to the support of the global financial services provider Siemens Financial Services (SFS), Bror Tonsjö was able to invest in digitalization without putting too much pressure on liquidity and side stepping other company priorities. Predictable fixed payments over 24 months enables the customer to much more effectively match the cost of the investment with the benefits the MindSphere implementation generates over time.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up to date at all times: everything you need to know about electrification, automation, and digitalization.