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It used to be that to develop special machinery for the pharmaceutical industry, a full-scale wood model was custom-built as needed to the customer’s specifications, and used to test factors like mechanical properties, ergonomics, and conveying paths. It was time-consuming and inflexible. So back in 2012, Bausch + Ströbel began setting up a virtualization center that can generate detailed images of new machines on the basis of digital data before the machines are built.
3D glasses enable engineers and customers to test and optimize the virtual model. Changes found at this early stage are made only on the digital twin, which is optimized further until both the engineers and the customer are satisfied. Everything they discover goes back into the design, and is stored in the form of data for the steps ahead.
If you’re on the outskirts of Ilshofen in Baden-Württemberg, you can’t miss Bausch + Ströbel’s production halls. Here the company builds specialized machines for pharmaceutical companies to fill and package ampules, bottles and vials, disposable syringes, carpules and pens.
A systematic digitalization strategy
Bausch + Ströbel relies on a systematic digitalization of the entire value chain: from design, to simulation and optimization at the company’s own virtualization center, to commissioning and servicing. A digital twin reproduces the future real machine as a detailed virtual model. But digital tools alone aren’t enough to achieve the company’s goal.
The human factor plays an especially important role, because Bausch + Ströbel employees have to be able to put the restructured digital workflows into optimum operation. In the end, the results once again benefit people: Bausch + Ströbel filling and packaging machines for the pharmaceutical industry are ready faster, with the best quality, and thus make sure patients can get their medications on time.
We’ve done digitalization right when the customer comes to us wanting a piece of equipment, and we can configure the unit with the customer within two days at our offices.
Dr. Hagen Gehringer, Managing Director, Bausch + Ströbel
To advance digitalization at Bausch + Ströbel, the conventional team structure organized by disciplines was broken up, and eleven work packages were defined – starting with designing the machine – on the basis of the customer’s specific requirements. The process uses the Siemens NX CAD software to produce the 3D model that also serves to generate the first version of the digital twin. This virtual model has all the features of the planned machine, and is constantly developed further. Using the Siemens Mechatronics Concept Designer, the engineers simulate the movement processes within the machine, define kinematic and dynamic properties, program cam disks, and dimension the drives.
For a consistent data world, Bausch + Ströbel relies on Teamcenter from Siemens. It enables the machine builder to access all data at any time, starting with the 3D models, and including everything from circuit diagrams to technical documentation. So engineering is paperless. For greater efficiency, Bausch + Ströbel has organized the individual work areas to collaborate in parallel, and has set up interdisciplinary teams. This mechatronic development and the Mechatronics Concept Designer have made it possible for the first time to exploit the possibilities of digitalization so that design, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and programming can all work together on a project at the same time.
Bausch + Ströbel and we have realized that digitalization is the key to remaining successful together in the future.
Marco Gierden, Business Development, Siemens
Mechatronic development offers clear time advantages over a conventional sequential workflow. Based on digital data, developers and the customer can test functions and the operator interface at the virtualization center, even before the machine is built. The digital twin also permits virtual commissioning, reliably revealing defects that can then be corrected, so that real commissioning is significantly faster. Bausch + Ströbel expects to enhance its engineering efficiency at least 30 percent by 2020.
Another advantage: necessary adjustments during construction and customer acceptance are fed back into the digital twin, thanks to the consistent data management in Teamcenter. So the twin is always an up-to-date image of the real machine. That enables Bausch + Ströbel to score in servicing as well. Even years after the product is delivered, the machine builder still has the customer’s machine available as an identical virtual model. So servicing can be fast and well focused, and predictive maintenance becomes possible. All the information gained thus improves only the current phase of development but subsequent steps, and in the long term, new developments and service work for the customer. Based on the machine data – such as the operating life of components – Bausch + Ströbel can plan and reduce downtime, and thus enhance the machines’ utilization ratio even further.
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