Varroc group (Varroc), a global auto component manufacturer was looking for a comprehensive solution to leverage their Industrie 4.0 initiatives across their plants. This involved connecting a multitude of machines, systems, and sensors which were on heterogeneous control systems, communicating on different protocols to a single data tunnel through OPC. In turn, this data was then to be streamed to the cloud and analyzed for maximizing operational efficiencies at different stages. Altizon used Datonis, its industrial IoT platform, compatible with OPC to connect all the machines seamlessly and provide an end to end solution. The flexibility, security controls & scalability provided by OPC enabled Altizon to create a single data tunnel for analyzing real time parameters & drive OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness), Condition Based Monitoring (CBM) and Energy conservation.
Varroc group is a global leader & a preferred full Systems Supplier of diverse automotive products. The Varroc group houses 35 world-class manufacturing facilities, 11 engineering centers in 10 countries, across 3 continents. With 35 world-class manufacturing facilities, 11 engineering centers, 13500 employees and 760 engineering experts in 10 countries, Varroc is a force to reckon with in global Automotive component manufacturing. With a global vision, Varroc has been a pioneer in adapting cutting edge technologies like IoT to make a push into Industry 4.0.
As a start to their digital transformation initiative around Industry 4.0, Varroc wanted to leverage IoT to maximize their operational efficiencies and productivity by bolstering their quality assurance processes, reducing the energy footprints and maximizing capacity utilizations.
However, there were certain challenges to be resolved at the outset.
- There was a multitude of machines, systems, sensors which were on different control systems, communicating on different protocols. They needed a partner who could connect diverse set of assets on to a single platform
- Also, the sheer volume & diversity of data and applications was so vast, that the platform handling it needed to be extremely scalable and flexible to handle it.
- Various departments in the enterprise were representing & interpreting the same data in different formats. Hence, there was an innate need for a single source of truth.
- Lastly there was the issue of the partner being able to work with their existing assets and hence not needing large scale CAPEX for asset substitution.
The challenge to keeping up was not only the need to match the capabilities of new applications, but also to build a solution that would serve as a future proof backbone for Digital transformation initiatives at Varroc.
Varroc Leaps into Industry 4.0
Varroc machine landscape consisted of a diverse heterogeneous systems & legacy machines, that posed a great challenge in information aggregation. Altizon, brought in Datonis, world’s first Industrial IoT platform, compatible with OPC to counter all of above challenges and maximize process productivities & efficiencies at Varroc.
- OPC served as the aggregator for OT/IT Integration needed – the essential first steps. To connect to a range of manufacturing equipment and software that included both new and legacy equipment, across plants at Varroc, Altizon leveraged the power of OPC through different OEM hardware with integrated OPC UA/DA embedded into them.
- OPC helped eliminate the data integration challenges and provided a standardized communication for interoperability for moving information from the shop floor to the top floor – across the enterprise.
- The typical installation involved pushing data from diverse OT data sources (PLC, Sensors, CNC controllers, Relays, HMIs, CSV etc.) across different locations and with disparate data loggers using different protocols to OPC client. Altizon then sent the acquired real time data to its cloud IoT platform Datonis, using an OPC client (agent) which read the data stored in the format of tags in OPC server client.
- With OPC as the de-facto standard for connectivity, Altizon connected all the machines seamlessly and provided an end to end solution, right from machine connectivity to data acquisition and processing with state of the art business relevant applications on top of Datonis.
- Within a few weeks of deployment, machines and systems began streaming real time data, compatible with OPC DA technology to Datonis and Varroc team was able to get a single source of truth for all operational metrics of machine utilization, performance, quality, condition monitoring and energy consumption in real time. The output of the configured tags from OPC UA was utilized for calculating Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) & Condition Based Monitoring (CBM) by Datonis.
- The HMI screens allowed operators to log data supplementary to machine data such as downtime reason codes directly from shop floor to Datonis. In this way they were able to track down time pockets; improve uptime, “mean time to resolve”.
- Integration with the existing ERP systems like SAP meant the power of actual operating metrics of machines meeting the powerful planning and execution systems of SAP, leading to advanced insights on inventory planning, lean manufacturing programs.
Digitization and Smart Manufacturing with OPC
With OPC and Altizon behind the scene, the required framework for the vision and execution of Smart Factory for Smart Manufacturing, was put in place.
While OPC defined how to get troves of information to and from disparate devices across the plants in a secure and cost effective manner, Altizon offered benefits at the business level by providing real time Productivity Dashboards.
With Altizon’s IoT Platform – Datonis coupled with versatility of OPC technology, Varroc was now able to transform their existing business processes and achieve many benefits:
- Achieve Real time OEE (performance, availability and quality), capacity utilization visualizations and benchmark/ comparisons at machine, cell and plant levels with complex rules run on the data
- Conduct Downtime Analysis – The slightest of the downtimes, contact time losses can be attributed a reason. If the machine stops, it won’t start without the operator punching the reason code from the shop floor. This way the small losses which were previously unmeasurable and hence unaccountable were accounted for.
- Implement Energy Monitoring – Energy meters were connected for consumption monitoring at machine, cell, and plant level.
- Enable Condition Based Monitoring – for spindle temperatures
- Centralize Live Production and Maximize Efficiency: Other than OEE, with a connected shop floor, Varroc could use a Tool Health Dashboard which tracked tool usage and overall health.
All this was bolstered by reliably tying technologies over OPC, in tandem with Altizon’s rules based notifications and alert engine for intimating right information at the right time to the right person.
Tangible Benefits included –
- The OEE has seen a considerable improvement which has led to a 10% reduction in direct running costs of the machine (including labor and energy) due to reduction in shifts
- Insights into real time OEE and downtime, have also reduced the number of people employed in data entry of these metrics (indirect manpower reduction)
Further, Condition Monitoring and a tool health dashboard ensured that the tool consumption and inventory was reduced by 2% leading to a working capital reduction.