Production data at a glance any time
The digital transformation continues to be a challenge for many medium-sized manufacturing companies. One of the digital pioneers is Peiler & Klein, a German injection molding company. Thanks to bottom-up digitalization, the company can now directly visualize and analyze its production data.
by Bernhard Müller-Hildebrand, Agentur conosco, Köln
Although every other car manufacturer in Germany is already investing in networked systems and artificial intelligence, suppliers of components, electronics, and accessories are lagging far behind. According to a study by the consulting firm EY, only five percent of medium-sized industrial companies have largely or completely networked their production. So far about 46 percent have searched in vain for Industry 4.0 methods.
However, digitalization has made considerable progress at Peiler & Klein Kunststofftechnik GmbH, a medium-sized company located in Höchstadt an der Aisch in Germany. In 2015, CEO Christian Werner started transforming the company into a smart factory. The company’s own employees have been the most important shapers of this development: They came up with ideas for data visualization and analysis using a bottom-up strategy.
Comprising about 100 employees at three locations, the company produces technical injection-molded parts for the automotive, electrical engineering, building services, cosmetics, and aviation industries – including Siemens. Every year, Peiler & Klein supplies about 17 million plastic parts to our equipment manufacturing plant in Amberg (GWA) and our electronics manufacturing plant in Amberg (EWA).
Raw data from 70 machines
Peiler & Klein generates raw data on a large scale from its pool of about 70 injection molding machines. The medium-sized company works with state-of-the-art equipment, plants, and machines from various manufacturers.
For help with data analysis and visualization, Peiler & Klein turned to Data Ahead AG, a software company in Nuremberg, Germany. Data Ahead’s Elastic Gear software enables information to be found and used across all devices and homogenizes all data formats and sources without losing any raw data. At the same time, installation costs are kept in check because Simatic-based Elastic Gear components are simply “piggy-backed” onto the production machines without having to intervene in the process control.
Fast data homogenization
At Peiler & Klein, Elastic Gear homogenizes all distributed data sources: for example, drying ovens and pellet scales and the sensors on the injection molding machines themselves. With the help of Simatic Panel PCs, which integrate an industrial computer with an operator panel, visualization is possible directly on the system. For the first time, all production processes can now be analyzed right on the shop floor level in a team and in real time, with no need for proprietary software. The raw data that already exists can be visualized directly, without a higher-level application like proprietary viewer.
Digital twins and other ideas
Employees at Peiler & Klein quickly developed ideas about how the production data can create even more benefits. By visualizing the volumes of data in real time and freely correlating that information with historical data, Peiler & Klein employees are able to tap into information that’s important for specific purposes, including individual process parameters as well as overall plant effectiveness. It also makes it possible to evaluate and optimize the load distribution between individual machines. Digital twins also enable a comprehensive monitoring of tools and components, and each part can be tracked at any time.
In the near future, a connection to MindSphere will provide access to powerful analysis tools. There’s no shortage of other exciting applications.
Almost every day we find solutions for optimizing our processes that we weren’t even actively searching for.Christian Werner, CEO Peiler & Klein
With regard to energy efficiency, for example: Thanks to a rather playful and creative approach to raw data analysis, the injection molding company was able to examine various levels power consumption throughout the production process in great detail. They observed the exact behavior associated with the heating of their machines and the cooling of molding compounds, which are well known to be major power consumers. With these findings, company technicians were able to develop their own tailor-made energy-saving solutions without having to use special expensive software.
Data for customers
In addition, Peiler & Klein intends to provide its customers with relevant data for analysis in the near future. Via a link to a role-based access management system, customers will receive detailed insight into different areas of production planning and tool maintenance and will be able to retrieve quality figures.
The fact that this is performed via the Simatic controllers equipped with Elastic Gear Docker container technology at Peiler & Klein – which are developed in Amberg, no less – makes it all that much more appealing.Ulrich Grauvogel, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Data Ahead
Bernhard Müller-Hildebrand, Agentur conosco, Köln
In collaboration with Siemens MindSphere, the Elastic Gear raw data architecture developed by Data Ahead lays the foundation for the interoperable digitalization of all production processes and plants. This allows the networking of production systems across sites and an easy evaluation of production, quality, and maintenance data.
The HIFIVE app necessary will soon be available in the MindSphere app store. HIFIVE forms a bridge between mass raw data and MindSphere and masters the decisive IIoT performance criteria: velocity, volume, variety, volatility, and visibility.
With headquarters in Nuremberg and offices in Berlin, Germany, and Austin, Texas (USA), the Data Ahead system house has been developing and implementing hardware and software solutions for data management and measurement and testing technology since 1999. Its range of solutions extends from strategic consulting and individual conceptual design to the complete organization and coordination of retrofitting and construction of new plants.
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