Big Data – Companies produce large volumes of data every day – and this volume continues to increase. The joint project "Smart Service Factory" aims to ensure that this mass of data is used in a secure and transparent manner and that it is used throughout the company in a sustainable manner. Schaeffler is project partner alongside Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS), with its Nuremberg-based Fraunhofer working group for Supply Chain Services SCS as partner, and Siemens. With this project, as part of the research program "Innovations for the production, service, and work of tomorrow", the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) is promoting the development of digital services and business models from data from industrial production.
Stefan Müller, member of the German Bundestag for Erlangen and Erlangen-Höchstadt and Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, presented the Schaeffler project team with the official approval letter for funding. "With this project we would like to make a contribution towards the intelligent handling of large and often heterogeneous data volumes and thereby to offer the economy new opportunities. We are delighted to have the global technology company Schaeffler as a project partner”, said Müller.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Gutzmer, Deputy CEO and Chief Technology Officer at Schaeffler sees a central technological trend in the increasing digitalization of products and processes. “Participating in this project provides us with a great opportunity to push forward the digitalization and interconnection of product, machine, production system, and information technology with expert key partners at an early stage, so that we can assert our claim as leaders in technology.”
Industrial tools, machine tools, and manufacturing machinery, as well as numerous workpieces generated in the production process, and production and service processes with a connection to relevant information systems are already continuously generating large volumes of data. These data are collected and bundled in so-called "data clouds" at the company. The problem is ensuring that an exchange of data between manufacturing companies, machine manufacturers, or logisticians for service development is carried out using a simple and secure procedure. This is where the "Smart Service Factory" will provide assistance and ensure that all the gathered knowledge is made available in the Cloud in a secure manner and according to customer requirements. The aim of the Smart Service Factory is to generate new innovations, product ideas, and in particular services that are closely related to production and to organize these together in a productive and professional manner. This means, for example, that a maintenance company could acquire the product knowledge about machine components from Schaeffler in an encrypted form, and pay for this knowledge upon each use. This knowledge will then be offered in addition to further knowledge from other component manufactures for the preventive maintenance for an entire machine.
According to Schaeffler engineer, Dr. Dennis Arnhold from Digital Factory production processes: "Data have become ‘the new gold’. How we dig it up and use it in a sustainable manner remains unclear, in particular when the data are to be used across the company. With the new project we also want to develop standards and methods for this purpose. Furthermore, the value that can be generated from the obtained data must also to be determined. It must also always be ensured that the valuable data are used in a safe and transparent manner.”
Above all else, small and medium-sized companies should benefit from this as it is often in this area that there is a lack of necessary expertise. Software companies, maintenance companies, and also companies like Schaeffler benefit from the developments and applications that have resulted from the project. It is companies like these that use these data and services based on these data in order to continue to improve their product quality, among other things.
The project also has a high level of importance for Oliver Jung, Schaeffler's Chief Operating Officer. Under the keyword "Industrie 4.0", Schaeffler also has to react to changes in the process landscape. Large data volumes that are generated during manufacturing, such as quality data or logistics movement data, must be used appropriately. Preventive maintenance makes it is possible, for example, to react to machine downtimes by taking measures at an early stage.
The project managed by Prof. Dr. Kathrin Möslein (FAU) is being sponsored by BMBF with a sum of around 1.6 million euros over four years and was started in August 2015.
Schaeffler is currently involved in 27 publicly funded research projects, 21 of which are in Germany. For the company that currently ranks 2nd in the statistics for patent registrations in Germany, research and development is a means of working for the future and a safeguard for the future.
Source: Schaeffler AG