New standard: Digital Twin

We spoke with Marcel Nagel about the opportunities presented by digitalization and the collaboration with Siemens PLM Software.

Mr. Nagel, “Industrie 4.0” is becoming a reality at your company. What do you hope to achieve with the digitalization of your electrical gripping system components?


Marcel Nagel: With digitalization, we offer added value for our customers that others don’t. Of course, we see it as an opportunity that sets us apart from the competition. In terms of efficiency and hardware, our products have reached a level where there is little room for further growth. But when it comes to service, we can once more push forward into completely new dimensions, thanks to digitalization.

Could you provide a bit more detail?


Marcel Nagel: Ultimately, our customers want to bring their products to market faster. For them to do so, the engineering process has to become shorter and faster, and if this also results in cost savings – even better. The Mechatronics Concept Designer from Siemens PLM Software, which allows us to map our entire mechatronic kit for high-performance assembly and the entire engineering process, from mechanical design to commissioning, let's do this.

A digital twin will become standard at our company.

Siemens considers itself to be the market leader when it comes to digitalization. What’s your opinion?


Marcel Nagel: Siemens has long been a proven partner in the automation of our depaneling machines. Here, we use TIA Portal, for instance. Also, we looked throughout the market for solutions for our digitalization project, but only Siemens really thought of everything, without omitting any production scenario. And most recently, for the virtual commissioning of the assembly line, we’ve had to deal with control systems – with hardware- and software-in-the-loop being critical – where Siemens is the market leader. Especially now, when we are still building our expertise with the Mechatronics Concept Designer, close cooperation is important. We have about 5,000 standardized products in our program that will all receive a digital twin. To achieve this, we need intelligent designs that allow for a high degree of standardization.

You demonstrated a pilot application at the fair in Nuremberg. What is the next step?


Marcel Nagel:  About 50 of our components have already been modeled for this pilot plant, allowing for virtual commissioning, which saves a lot of time and money. You can already see that in this model. But it is important for the simulation that all the components of a plant have a digital twin. So there still is a lot left to do. If a customer has a specific inquiry, we can get started right away and give modeling priority to the required components.


Picture credits: Siemens AG / Schunk GmbH & Co. KG

The company was founded in 1945 as a machine shop and today is a global technology and market leader for clamping technology and gripping systems. Headquartered in Lauffen am Neckar, Germany, Schunk has more than 2,700 employees in eight plants and 30 subsidiaries, as well as sales partners in more than 50 countries to ensure an extensive market presence. With 11,000 standard components, Schunk offers the largest range of products in clamping technology and gripping systems worldwide, and with 2,550 Schunk grippers, the most comprehensive standard gripping component portfolio on the market. The company’s customers include a who’s who of machine and plant manufacturing, robotics, automation, and assembly handling, as well as all major automotive brands and their suppliers.

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