22 May 2019

Digitalization doesn’t happen on green field

Why data consistency is key

How many brand-new factories with a state-of-the art IT/OT infrastructure are built each year?  Quite a number, I am sure. But in most cases, our customers are facing the challenge to upgrade or extend existing production lines or plants.

With our concept of Totally Integrated Automation we started a couple of years ago, to set up important prerequisites to ease those actions. Now it is time to enter the next level. IT and OT has begun to merge. We currently witness a fundamental change in the industrial automation area. New player, shorter innovation cycles, more and more cloud-based offerings, not only for data analysis but also for operation tasks.

No question, that data consistency is in focus of both: IT and OT experts. We need a compatible data exchange between IT/OT tools, when the Industrial Internet of Things is our goal.

It is essential that we drastically increase data consistency and the level of automation in PLM workflows. To achieve this, we’ve developed five Proofs of Concept (PoC) in our own SIMATIC production plant in Amberg.

1 Definition and data contained in the digital twin of the product, incl. data model: Not all data is available yet. In some cases, it’s 2D and not the complete 3D data. Further information, such as product weight or individual components, is also not always available. This PoC aims to expand this data and provide it in a standardized form.

2 Automatic design rule checks (for electronic and mechanical design): This is a feasibility study to make sure that the manufacturing steps developed in the software can actually be performed in the real world. A simple example: can a printed circuit board (PCB) be easily assembled in housings with high-speed, low forces and without any negative quality impact.

3 Process Sequence and NC program generation for electronics. Here, we aim to create an automated (or at least partly automated) generation of process sequences and Numerical Control codes for production machines.

4 Process Sequence and NC program generation for mechanics.The same thing for mechanical components.

5 Evaluation of workflow engines. Workflows shall guide all people through complex processes like NPI (New Product Introduction) or NMI (New Machine Introduction)

Amberg is at the forefront

What are we aiming at with those PoCs? Coming back to the three digital twins, mentioned in my earlier blog post – the digital twin of the product, the digital twin of production and the digital twin of performance. As they are twins, they have the same DNA. That means data consistency. Although we’re still at the beginning of our journey, things are already happening.

Our planning engineers at our electronics plant in Amberg have compiled five concept ideas for evaluation. They are now testing and verifying three of the Proofs of Concept mentioned above, the remaining two will follow shortly. I am looking forward to see the progress and will share with you here on my blog. If you are interested in starting your own PoCs, our colleagues from Industry Service will be happy to help you.

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