Not either … or, but both. Who knows how to combine the virtual and digital world successfully by using the possibilities of the “Industrial Internet of Things”, has the most success. Styrian global players like Andritz, EPCOS or Magna Steyr show this clearly at the i-KNOW 2017 and give insights in their smart productions.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. This principle originating from Charles Darwin is applied practice at Magna Steyr. Already 10 years ago the company realized the first virtually developed vehicle. “Since then the line between the digital and the real world has blurred heavily”, tells Franz Weghofer of Magna Steyr at the i-KNOW. “Nowadays the challenge is establishing the digital mindset across all departments.” Magna Steyr, also in cooperation with the Know-Center, works intensively on this – among other things with the help of big data analyses, autonomous driving, robotic systems, smart racks and many more. Also virtual, mixed and augmented reality technologies are applied. The (potential) customer looks at a real vehicle prototype, desired color, equipment etc. can be changed virtually and through glasses he sees his individual product – just to outline one application example.

Space that adapts interactively

Also in the area of work 4.0 Magna Steyr pursues innovative paths: e.g. with regard to the new meeting space – a whole new kind of meeting room. A multifunctional room without any cables. Weghofer: “The room makes preparations via software, the necessary contents are displayed via projection areas on the walls.” The room is suitable as show room as well as for customer meetings etc.

Smart technologies pay off

Change of scene from the automotive industry to the one of world market leader ANDRITZ, who among others supplies water, pulp and steel industry with machines and technologies – and who created a separate business area named Metris for his Internet of Things solutions. The system ANDRITZ OPP is already in action in about 30 facilities worldwide. The system analyses production data and detects anomalities and deviations in the pulp and paper production. That way, for example, sheet breaks can be predicted and avoided before they happen. At a facility in Brazil this enhanced production evidently by 4 percent, at another, expenses for chemicals could be reduced by 10 percent. Gerhard Schiefer, Vice President of ANDRITZ AUTOMATION: “The demand for our IoT solutions is increasing strongly, more and more customers want to integrate those into existing facilities. There is awareness for the big potential, but many are still concerned about the data security. Thus, our approach is communicating clearly to the customer which windows we open to the outside.”

Fear of data loss

Martin Mayer of evon – a company in Gleisdorf dealing with industrial automation (e.g. cost-efficient respectively predictive maintenance) – takes the same line. The largest respectively most relevant data pool one can fish in, according to Mayer, in order to optimize maintenance, is the pool of customer data. However: “Many end customers don’t want to share their data. This is the biggest barrier at the moment.”

One error is not like another

Michael Prohammer of EPCOS, which is part of the TDK-group, illustrates another challenge: „Not every fault showed up is relevant. At present human expert knowledge is still needed to select those errors really relevant.” EPCOS implemented “Maintenance 4.0” in the production of the piezo actuators – in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute Austria. Additionally, a data platform (LOG, OEE, ISPRO, SPC) was created for this purpose. It allows precise analyses with regard to defects, efficiency etc. and serves as basis for further projects that are conducted now together with the TU Graz.

Smart Factory at TU Graz

At TU Graz not only research is done, but they also actively produce, Rudolf Pichler explains at the i-KNOW 2017: „In our Smart Factory we produce chips – not in a small margin, but we work following industry standards.” They don’t want to be “only some training factory, but develop agile and secure concepts for real factories”. This also requires a 360 degree view: “The process chain is way more important than the product itself. It is all about developing a modern architecture, which allows the objects to communicate with each other best possible.”