Digital transformation: Production controlling via IIOT platform

Digital transformation: Production controlling via IIOT platform

Category : Innovations

With more than 800 employees at locations in Germany, Austria, Italy, USA and Slovakia, the GRONBACH network is present in numerous industries worldwide. From development and production to toolmaking and a wide range of innovative solutions in the fields of metal processing, surface finishing, plastic injection molding and kinematics: As a full-service supplier to the metal industry, the service portfolio of all locations is correspondingly broad. With annual sales of 137 million euros, the GRONBACH network sees itself as one of the leading suppliers of customized parts, components and OEM devices.

Interview with Mr. Oliver Bredow
Chief Developer, Wilhelm Gronbach GmbH

  • What digitization project did you start at GRONBACH?
  • What about the implementation?
  • How do you use the data gained for your company?
  • What insights do you see for the success of the project?
  • How was the project financed?
  • What conclusions do you reach for the future?

» Thanks to the storage and evaluation of data, productivity in the plants was increased and energy consumption reduced

GRONBACH strives for improved productivity in its plants on the basis of a platform developed in-house in the cloud that collects, centralizes, stores and analyzes data streams from all machines.
GRONBACH’s IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things) platform also reflects the company’s digital face.

The reason for digitizing our machines now is simply due to the fact that it ensures much higher efficiency in production“, says Oliver Bredow, Chief Developer at GRONBACH Wasserburg, summarizing the motivation behind the project.

Every second, the IIoT platform obtains data from the machines, e.g. energy consumption, heat generation and power, and is thus able to identify possible malfunctions such as overheating, failure or excessive energy consumption at an early stage.
This involves storing data streams of up to 300 values per machine and in a latency of up to one second,” says Bredow.
These data streams are stored on a cloud platform and available for the business and production management. Alerts triggered in the event of a malfunction enable production managers to react much more quickly than in the past. In addition, everyone in the plant is given the opportunity to identify productivity potential and bottlenecks and react accordingly quickly. This ensures smooth production and at the same time saves costs, considering the optimization of energy costs and the reduction of production downtimes at an early stage.

» Don’t wait – just make it

The core of the measurements are minicomputers, which were connected to each individual machine (initially with a 500 t press). Every press stroke is recorded by the computer and transmitted via a WLAN connection to a specially programmed database. In addition to the clocking of the strokes, the temperature development and the time component are also determined, transmitted to the database and centrally stored there. GRONBACH was able to access the data measured in real time both via mobile access and a desktop computer and draw the appropriate conclusions in a statistical summary.

» The digital transformation has firmly established itself in the entrepreneurial spirit

Although the overall process of the digitisation project is not yet complete, the data collected so far confirm the success of the project.
We have already been able to collect positive feedback from our customers“, Bredow and his colleagues are particularly pleased.
Meanwhile, the economic success of the project is also becoming apparent. Not only the positive feedback from customers had an economic effect on GRONBACH. The project has not only increased the productivity of the machines for customers, but also offers further potential.

With simple resources and a large portion of commitment, we have created a measuring instrument that does not yet exist with its simplicity and powerful functionality at a very moderate price. Due to the good response of our customers, they are also considering purchasing such digital measuring instruments from us – quasi turnkey for use“, Bredow describes the changed situation.

The originally expected range of services and knowledge that the project was to bring with it was exceeded many times over. Even the development costs were kept within limits. GRONBACH was thus able to develop everything in-house and purchase the electronic components cost-effectively from specialist retailers.

With the help of the data obtained, the focus is not only on improving the productivity of the individual machines and thus products, but also on increasing competitiveness and cooperation in the plants. The same applies to the aspect of cost reduction in the event of production stoppages.

We will continue to expand our previous knowledge in the future and will certainly add one or two additional evaluations in order to ultimately digitize as much as we need“.

The entire topic of digital transformation has taken on a whole new significance within the company. In the near future, GRONBACH will offer the IIOT platform as a personal service to interested companies wishing to gain a deeper insight into their production. This will be at a considerably lower price than for companies and large groups that already offer such measuring instruments and platforms on the market “, says Bredow.

The establishment of the IIoT platform offered GRONBACH great opportunities. Now it is easy to collect, bundle and analyze data, which leads to enormous increases in productivity.