Vol. 20
January Issue
Year 2019


in Vol. 20 - January Issue - Year 2019
iTAC.MES.Suite – The Central Control Technology Takes The Helm In The Smart Factory

Felix Michael Losch, Sales Manager MES & Controls, Dürr Systems AG

iTAC.MES.Suite – Synergies for the production of the future

Central plant control with MES@Dürr

 In the Spotlight

The Dürr Group has had a direct representation in China since 1985 and currently employs around 2,000 staff there. Dürr Paintshop Systems Engineering (Shanghai) Corp. Ltd. plans and builds paint and final assembly systems as well as exhaust-air purification systems. Its portfolio also includes energy efficiency technology. Schenck Shanghai Machinery Corp. Ltd. focuses on the production of balancing, testing and filling technology. The HOMAG Group is represented in Shanghai, through a production site (HOMAG Machinery Shanghai), and in Hong Kong, through the associated sales and service companyHOMAG China Golden Field Ltd. The Dürr Group is one of the world's leading mechanical and plant engineering firms with extensive automation expertise. Products, systems and services offered by the Group enable highly efficient manufacturing processes in different industries. Dürr supplies sectors like the automotive industry, mechanical engineering, chemical, pharmaceutical and woodworking industries. The company has 92 business locations in 31 countries. The Group generated sales of € 3.72 billion in 2017. Dürr has around 15,000 employees and operates in the market with five divisions: Paint and Final Assembly Systems: paint shops and final assembly systems for the automotive industry Application Technology: robot technologies for the automated application of paint, sealants and adhesives Clean Technology Systems: exhaust-air purification systems and energy efficiency technology Measuring and Process Systems: balancing equipment as well as assembly, testing and filling technology Woodworking Machinery and Systems: machinery and equipment for the woodworking industry

Bietigheim-Bissingen, October 2nd, 2018 – Increasing customer variance, e-mobility, cyber security: smart factories is the automotive industry answer to current market challenges. Digitization of the production workflow with dedicated software solutions is key. At the heart of smart manufacturing are manufacturing execution systems (MES), which serve as the central data hub that makes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) possible in the first place. Felix Losch, a key account manager responsible for the iTAC.MES.Suite from Dürr, explains the benefits of the tailored MES solution for car manufacturers along the entire value chain.

(?) MFN: Mr. Losch, the digital transformation in the automotive industry is linked with buzz words like connected cars or autonomous driving. Looking at the digital transformation from the perspective of manufacturing rather than the end products, what is the priority for manufacturers?

(!) F. M. L.: There is a clear focus on process automation. This is a market-driven innovation, pushed by increasing customization options and high customer expectations. The trend has long been towards lot-size-one – and not just in the luxury segment either.

Thus, efficiency and transparency become critical to manufacturing control. Conventional MES solutions that only address individual functions do not make the cut.

(?) MFN: What does a modern MES do?

(!) F. M. L.: An IIoT-capable MES covers the complex manufacturing process from end-to-end – from the delivery of sheet metal to the fully functional vehicle that rolls off the production line. With mechanical engineering from Dürr and IT expertise from our software subsidiary iTAC, we developed an improved MES solution based on our proven EcoEMOS control technology. The iTAC.MES.Suite covers the complete production chain by incorporating OEMs and suppliers within one system. This includes, for example, components produced by third-party suppliers. In the end, a single, centralized MES can provide the manufacturer with a powerful tool for monitoring, controlling and evaluating production performance. Additionally, the manufacturer can see the global supply chain by integrating several plants into the system in order to monitor and benchmark performance across sites. The first implementations of the iTAC.MES.Suite in the automotive sector are currently underway in several ongoing Dürr system projects in the European market.

(?) MFN: How does the automotive industry benefit from a centralized MES?

(!) F. M. L.: A big benefit is the increased reactivity to changing productions conditions, for example, to ensure better supply reliability to the customer. To achieve this, an Advanced Planning and Scheduling System (APS) was integrated in the iTAC.MES.Suite. The MES components provide direct feedback to the APS in order to create a production schedule that automatically adapts to the state of the production. Simply put, this means that sequences are no longer processed "dumbly", but rather intelligently adapted to the actual circumstances, for example, the unforeseen absence of an employee.

(?) MFN: What is a typical application scenario?

(!) F. M. L.: Let’s look at the example of two spray booths, one of which unexpectedly malfunctions. In the past, the Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP for short) would have known nothing about this and the production target would not have been reached at the end of the day. Since live data from manufacturing is incorporated into the iTAC.MES.Suite, it can perform recalculations in realtime. Thanks to this interaction, optimal production is possible despite the constraint imposed by the malfunction of one booth, for example by redirecting important high-demand bodies to the functioning spray booth. The interface between APS and MES is what really sets the iTAC.MES.Suite apart – a true step towards the digitization of logistics.

(?) MFN: Future-oriented software technology needs a large quantity of data, which is generated in the networked factory. This quickly raises the question: how vulnerable is the system?

(!) F. M. L.: Software maintenance and support are becoming more and more important, because there are two aspects to the question of security for the automotive industry: secure, highly available plant operation and the protection against cyber-attacks. For this reason we are expanding our headcount in the area of support, optimization and testing through globalization in the US and China. The experts who developed and implemented the projects are available via a 24/7 hotline. In addition, the support team continuously reviews the customer systems for security vulnerabilities, fixes them, implements hotfixes, and optimizes databases if the user behavior changes.

(?) MFN: Are centralized control systems like the iTAC.MES.Suite only something for newly built factories?

(!) F. M. L.: When Volkswagen in Września (Poland) built a new commercial vehicle factory, the company opted for an integrated MES system from the body shop through to the assembly. In contrast, many existing factories require a great deal of modernization in the area of software. This is also because switching to e-mobility requires high investments, and existing factories have increased life expectancy. In the past, paint shops in the automotive industry had a lifetime of 10 to 15 years; now, the target is at least 20 years. The analytical capability of modern control systems enables precise maintenance concepts and self-learning machines that identify deviations and optimize processes early on. The experience from 180 MES systems installed by Dürr worldwide in the past 20 years has been incorporated into the development of the iTAC.MES.Suite and will contribute in the future to extending the lifetime of technology and automotive factories even further through transparent, efficient control.

MFN would like to thank Felix Michael Losch for this interview!

For Information:
Dürr Systems AG
Günter Buzer, Marketing
Carl-Benz-Str. 34
74321 Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany
Tel. +49.7142.78-2614
E-mail: guenter.buzer@durr.com
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