Düsseldorf, August 02, 2017

Pushing forward digitalization

Marc Hübbers (left) and Philipp Stüer searching for new solutions within the scope of EMuDig 4.0.

SMS group is cooperating with numerous partners on methods to make value creation in massive forming more efficient. A focal point is optimizing plant maintenance by employing state-of the-art measurement technology. The Federal Ministry of Economics is supporting this project.

With the funding program “PAiCE“ within the scope of the Federal Government’s Digital Agenda, the Ministry wants to advance the digitalization of the German economy. The aim is to lead Germany to an international top player of the leading market for ”Industry 4.0“ and to a provider of premium products. Scientific institutions are to be interconnected with excellent companies to put creative ideas and research results into practical application. Experts expect increases in productivity of up to 30 percent through digitalization in the medium term. To select the funding programs,a technological competition for cooperations took place between companies and research institutes. Of the79 applications, the consortium led by SMS group and twelve other consortiums received a commitment for funding from the Federal Government. The research project being funded since October 2016 known by the acronymEMuDig 4.0 (Efficiency boost in Massive forming from development and integration of digital technologies in the engineering for the entire value chain) is set at three years.
The activities under the research project are subdivided into the following sub projects with the below-mentioned leading institutions:

  • Subproject 1: Generation of raw material(Otto Fuchs/Hirschvogel)
  • Subproject 2: Forming process (University ofStuttgart – IFU)
  • Subproject 3: Production plants (SMS group)
  • Subproject 4: Production tools(South Westphalia University – LFM)
  • Subproject 5: Logistics process (University ofStuttgart – IAS)
  • Subproject 6: Factory cloud & data analytics(TU Dresden - ZIH)

The prototypical implementation shall be realized close to practice in the environment of the project partners OttoFuchs and Hirschvogel and in a model approach at the research institutes involved. In the course of this, the complete process chain of massive forming for steel and aluminium is incorporated, starting with the generation of raw material up to the finished formed part, including the transfer interface for machining. Smart data gained from sensors and IT systems serve to adapt the manufacturing processes in realtime wherever possible and to predict the resulting product properties. “By interconnecting single process steps digitally,we hope to achieve an increase in efficiency of the entire value chain. For massive forming as key sector of German industry, this represents an important opportunity to position oneself as a driver of innovation also in future,”Rainer Herbertz, Professor and Head of Massive FormingLaboratory at South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences is sure.

Inter-departmental cooperation

Several SMS Divisions – Technical Service, Research andDevelopment as well as Forging Technology – are working together on the EMuDig 4.0 subproject production plants.Together with the plant operators, SMS experts are searching for new solutions substantially enhancing the effectiveness of the entire process chain of the overall facility by preventing unscheduled plant downtimes. The primary focus is on the most relevant causes of availability losses with the objective to create a forecast model to support predictive maintenance. To do this, the parties concerned make use of the latest possibilities for condition data acquisition,data analysis and interfaces for corporate IT. “We are pleased to confront the challenges of Industry 4.0 on the plant manufacturer and plant operator side within the scope of EMuDig 4.0 together with our customers and scientific partners,“ says Marc Hübbers, Head of Forging/RingRolling Europe, Technical Service Division at SMS group.

Keeping an eye on next product generation

With its Forging Technology Product Division SMS group is an important player in massive forming. It has been paying attention to the plant-specific side of the complete process chain for a long time, ranging from generation of raw material via toolmaking up to rough part manufacture through the forming process with subsequent heat treatment and mechanical processing and further refinement into a ready to-install component. The machines and plants supplied bySMS for the manufacture of massive forming parts are already highly automated – nevertheless, the key to further improvement lies in productivity and quality assurance and predictive maintenance plays a particular role.

In practice, engineering has to meet many challenges,for example the parameters of the manufactured products or the time lag, enabling information from the forming and heat treatment process to be used in the forecasts. The complex interaction of many influencing variables makes it more difficult to forecast, on the basis of status data, cause effect relationships in the process chain or causes for production losses. “From the work within the scope of the research project we expect insights for the development of innovative predictive maintenance service products for the machines of our customers in the massive forming sector,“explains Philipp Stüer from Technical Service, SMS group.Enormous potential lies in the avoidance of unscheduled downtimes, rejects and necessary rework.