The presentation of a first marketplace solution for the plastics industry sees Engel taking the next step in digital transformation at K 2019. Networking on a horizontal level opens up the opportunity to analyse and optimise processes across functions along the entire value stream.
From intelligent assistance systems to condition monitoring and MES, many different Industry 4.0 technologies are already in use by plastics processors. These solutions help companies to acquire and evaluate machine and process data in order to further optimise processes. “So far, this has happened within individual stages of the value chain, such as injection moulding,” explains Dr. Stefan Engleder, CEO of injection moulding machine manufacturer and system solutions provider Engel. However, as efficiency and quality requirements in production continue to rise, the interaction between the individual system components is becoming increasingly important. Transparency over the entire process is therefore the goal of digital transformation, to which Engel is moving a great deal closer at K. In the future, superordinate platforms, marketplaces, will bundle products and data from systems at different stages of the value chain in order to be able to analyse and optimise the production process along the entire value stream. In addition to the injection moulding process, there are, for example, the upstream and downstream work steps, such as drying and feeding the material or assembling and painting the injection moulded parts.
Data consistency across all brands
Although this may sound simple, the challenge is that machines, systems and technologies from very different suppliers are used along the value stream. This is why the marketplace presented at K 2019 is not an Engel product, but a solution based on Adamos HUB technology. Adamos was founded as a strategic alliance in the mechanical and plant engineering industry for the future topics of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). “Manufacturer independence and openness are essential characteristics of comprehensive platform solutions,” Engleder is convinced. “This is the only way to achieve data consistency across all products and brands, and the processor will also be able to freely select the most suitable suppliers for its individual requirements in the future environment of the smart factory.”
Adamos HUB bundles the digital products, services and domain-specific platforms of the various providers on one platform and interconnects the individual applications. The user can individually combine the available data analysis tools and predefined dashboards for an at-a-glance overview of all relevant information and evaluations. Instead of having to access various systems like in the past, all information relevant to the user is now available with a single sign-on.
OEE across all machinery
Based on concrete application examples, visitors to the Engel stand can experience at first hand the new possibilities and opportunities opened up by horizontal networking. For example, there is an OEE app that can calculate overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) across all machinery. In addition to the injection moulding machine and the robots, the mould and hot runner data, quality control systems and material handling units will also be included in the calculations in the future. Until now, it has not been possible to automatically determine this performance indicator across all machinery.
Following the kick-off at K 2019, further new apps, services and business models will successively be developed, says Engleder, providing an outlook: “The new possibilities of data processing and analysis empower us to serve the needs of our customers in an even better and more targeted way than is possible today. Customer benefit is always the focus of all developments. It is very important not to digitalise just for the sake of digitalisation.”
Enabler for the circular economy
Engel is one of the pioneers of digital transformation and works intensively with its customers and partners to further explore the new opportunities in order to continuously expand the product range on the marketplaces. In addition to the Adamos partner network, Engel is also heavily involved in the new LIT Factory in Linz, the first pilot factory for digitalisation in plastics processing. “We are testing the possibilities of digital networking there hands-on and jointly developing new applications in a partner network,” says Engleder. The 25 companies participating in the LIT Factory use their own interdisciplinary IIoT platform. Together they cover the entire value stream from raw materials, product development and various processing technologies through to recycling. The LIT Factory makes it clear that digital transformation not only helps to optimise industrial processes, but also to solve the great challenges of our time. Horizontal networking is an important precursor for establishing a circular economy. “The circular economy will only work consistently if we take subsequent parts recycling into account during product and process development,” says Stefan Engleder. “This requires even closer cooperation between companies along the value chain, something that the new marketplaces will greatly simplify.”