Cloud connection: Globalization for Machines

Digitally networking machines can minimize downtime and increase efficiency, and thus safeguard competitiveness for the long term. That’s what machine builder Kampf recognized. So it offered its customers a specially developed platform solution – which has included a cloud connection since the summer of 2018. The company relied on strong partners for both projects.

“Eastman Kodak used to be one of our major clients. About 20 percent of our development engineers worked only for that photographic equipment maker,” recalls Donatus Weber, head of Innovation & Industry 4.0 at Kampf Schneid- und Wickeltechnik GmbH & Co. KG. “Then Kodak developed the digital camera – and within a very short time our machines were no longer processing film.”

The digitalization challenge

Weber understands how much anxiety an experience like that can provoke. But he also sees the opportunities inherent in the digital transformation: “Disruption due to digitalization affects us all, and we always have to remember that. But it also offers a massive opportunity. In 2016 we realized that we can take advantage of digitalization to create digital added value for our customers, and help safeguard their competitiveness.” The focus here was on enhancing machines’ efficiency. With support from software developers from codecentric, Kampf started setting up a digital Industry 4.0 platform for its customers. The result was an integrated platform called the@vanced.

Nils Wloka from codecentric, who is Head of Industry 4.0 there, has been advising industrial firms of all sizes on digitalization questions for some time now. “Many of them have to rely on external software expertise to get digital ideas moving for their company. That doesn’t mean becoming dependent on codecentric. We work together as equals, so that later on the company can take over maintaining its new software application on its own.”

Integrating the platform into MindSphere

 

 

When they first started working together, both Kampf and codecentric understood that many of Kampf’s customers saw no need for cloud solutions yet, but still wanted to benefit from the advantages of digitalization. So as a first step, they decided to put together a local solution based on cloud technologies. “We developed the@vanced as what’s called an ‘on-premise’ platform, meaning one that operates, including with all its data, on a server at the customer’s own location,” Weber explains.

 

“That platform can monitor the continuous data flow from all networked machines automatically, analyze it, and interpret the findings as recommendations for action,” he adds. That means, for example, that maintenance work can be done predictively, downtime can be prevented, and utilization is optimized. This on-site solution does have one drawback, however – it can only network machines at one production location. If you want to analyze machine data across multiple locations, a cloud solution is what’s needed.

Cooperation the key to success

Weber still remembers how Version 3 of MindSphere, the open, cloud-based IoT system from Siemens then came onto the market. “I thought, that’s exactly what we need. We don’t need to go to all the trouble of developing our own cloud – instead, we can just couple our platform as-is to MindSphere.” 

Wloka, for his part, had first come into contact with MindSphere by way of the Siemens Open Space (see info box at right) at Factory Berlin. He works there fairly often, so as to keep in touch with his colleagues in the business. When Kampf called for proposals for solutions for a cloud integration as part of the MindSphere Open Space Challenge, Wloka joined forces with colleagues to develop a concept, which they then implemented within just a few days.

The result: MindSphere, as a generic platform on an IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service) cloud, now enables Kampf customers to feed the production and efficiency data from all their various production sites into MindSphere, and compare them there. An application developed by codecentric processes the data. Wloka explains, “we built a custom analysis capability as a supplement to the MindSphere Manage MyMachines application, so Kampf customers can also view whatever is most important to them at a glance.” 

Confidence in MindSphere

“Demand for cloud applications is slowly getting under way only just now. But analyzing such big data pools offers immense potential. You could never manage that on a small scale locally,” Weber says. “A simple example: our customer has three production sites – one in the USA, one in Southeast Asia, and one in Europe. Now, he could laboriously analyze all three production sites on location, hope that shared standards were applied correctly in the process, and then arduously compare the resulting data to find out which production was running the most efficiently,” he explains. A time-consuming, error-prone method. “Or, he could rely on a cloud solution like MindSphere – and get all the data almost in real time, at the touch of a button, including analytical methods adapted to his needs.”

Weber also thinks that the reason they decided on MindSphere as a cloud platform is the very same reason that clinches the deal for his customers. “Siemens vouches that nobody else will have access to the data in MindSphere (here’s more about data security in MindSphere). And people trust Siemens – the company’s been a partner for machine builders for many, many years. It was Siemens that installed the control and drive technology in our machines. So greater acceptance is there already, and soon it won’t be just our more innovative customers who want to get into the cloud.”

Outlook: Building up applications

Both Kampf and codecentric want to keep working on that basis. “We want to build applications and thus generate added value for our customers. That’s our goal,” says Weber, and Wloka adds, “after integration, we’re now looking forward to carrying out more applications in MindSphere in further projects with Kampf and other industrial companies.” 

Kampf Schneid- und Wickeltechnik GmbH & Co. KG , codecentric, Siemens AG

Picture credits: Siemens AG 

The Siemens Open Space, part of Factory Berlin, is where new digital business models, applications and services develop using MindSphere, the open cloud-based IoT system. The two subjects of our story here also worked together on this dialoguing platform. 

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