The world is becoming more connected every day, as the Internet of Things (IoT) extends beyond the home and office to manufacturing and the factory floor.
As an example of how industrial IoT (IIoT) connectivity can improve and drive manufacturing, consider Schaeffler, an automotive and industrial supplier. In a partnership with IBM’s Watson IoT platform, the company hopes to extend its business model to include cognitive solutions to its products.
Peter Gutzmer, deputy CEO and CTO at Schaeffler sees a smart, connected future as the essence of Industry 4.0.
"We are entering an age where parts can monitor and evaluate their own performance and even order their own replacement when necessary,” said Gutzmer. “Schaeffler is a world leader in product development and manufacturing, IBM in hybrid cloud and cognitive computing; through this partnership we are ushering the new industrial era."
More specifically, Schaeffler’s first phase of integration with IBM’s IIoT solutions involve five areas of focus.
1) Optimizing Maintenance in Wind Energy
Using sensors in vital components enables users to retrieve information on the condition of wind turbines during operation and process it in real time. (Image courtesy of Schaeffler.)
Schaeffler and IBM will use wind turbines to explore how machine learning can reveal additional insights about the performance of equipment in different operating conditions. Sensors in the equipment and in the bearings themselves will report on the condition of components in real-time. Using wind forecasts from IBM, turbine operators will be able to plan ahead and replace parts during less windy periods.
2) Digitized Monitoring and Optimization of Trains
Monitoring systems with local software and cloud-based analytics in trains improves their operational safety and reduces operating costs. (Image courtesy of Schaeffler.)
Using cognitive insights from the cloud, Schaeffler is aiming to enhance its predictive maintenance systems for railways, helping to improve efficiency and safety. Smart bearings will be able to measure their own vibration, temperature, torque and speed triggering alerts and informing railway operators about possible safety issues.
3) Connected Vehicles
Real time analytics and cognitive systems will turn data from components and systems into valuable insights. (Image courtesy of Schaeffler.)
The IIoT can also allow Schaeffler to extend the functionality and lifespan of components for the automotive industry. Real time analytics and cognitive systems can turn data from components and systems into valuable insights that can be used by manufacturers to increase the reliability of cars and offer new value-added services to customers. In other words, IIoT can extend quality assurance beyond the factory doors.
4) Industry 4.0 for Machine Tools
Schaeffler’s digital platform technologies are being used for machine tools to systematically improve overall equipment efficiency. (Image courtesy of Schaeffler.)
In an effort to improve production efficiency, Schaeffler's Industry 4.0 strategy for machine tools includes real time analysis of data and context-driven maintenance, networking and optimization of machines within a production line.
5) Connected Equipment Operations Centers
(Image courtesy of Schaeffler.)
The connected Industry 4.0 will allow for the monitoring of thousands of machines and pieces of equipment on and off site. Data can be transmitted to an operation center and processed in the cloud. Algorithms and cognitive approaches can analyze that data to make predictions about machine performance and create opportunities for optimization. Irregularities and potential faults can be automatically identified and corresponding actions rapidly initiated.
"This is an era of unprecedented industrial transformation defined by factories, machines and parts capable of self-assessing, triggering actions and exchanging information with each other, and with the people who manufacture and maintain them," said Harriet Green, general manager of IBM Watson IoT. "Schaeffler is leading the way and literally redefining approaches for designing, producing and maintaining machines–making them safer and more reliable."
Read more about IIoT and Industry 4.0 here and see how this “new industrial revolution” will impact manufacturing in the future.