Increased production efficiency – thanks to toii®

With the help of its Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform toii®, thyssenkrupp Materials IoT succeeded in comprehensively automating and optimizing production processes at thyssenkrupp Materials Processing Europe (MPE).

The challenge for thyssenkrupp Materials IoT

MPE offers custom value added processing of raw materials at its Stuttgart site. Three cut-to-length machines cut narrower strips from the coils according to the customer’s individual requirements. In order to prepare the company for future challenges, the aim was now to extensively automate the processes and digitalize the upstream and downstream processes.

What this meant for thyssenkrupp Materials IoT in real terms: The individual devices in the production line needed to be networked and their production data made available for other applications. The operator’s handwritten inputs would be replaced by digital data in the future. This also applied to the measuring systems in use: Both the width and thickness measurements were to be digitalized and automated. The plan was also to integrate a SAP-based resource management system (ERP) into the digital environment.

The productivity goal for the facilities was to increase efficiency and also create a basis for the comprehensive optimization of similar production facilities. MPE also hoped to improve the flow of information to the upstream and downstream roles in the company and use the acquired data in big data analyses in order to get more added value out of them in the future.

With toii®.Control, we can read production data in real time and take our process security to the next level. As a result, we are setting new quality standards and increasing our productivity.

Michael Schappach
thyssenkrupp Materials Processing Europe, Head of Operations, Mannheim

The solution design

The solution was developed by thyssenkrupp Materials IoT together with MPE. The process optimization was based on the implementation of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform toii®. First the machines were connected with the help of the toii®.Collect module and the machine data were collected and prepared for use in the system. A total of 15 individual units were networked in this way.

In addition to the machines, analog measuring systems such as micrometers needed to be digitally connected. A radio module was used to integrate the measuring devices, which were integrated into the toii® platform through the toii®.PDC module.

The toii®.PDC software module ensures the digitization of manual production data. Machine operators also use the module to collect previously unavailable data. Terminals are set up with a web interface for this purpose. Production workers can enter failure reports or other data directly into the database of the toii® platform at these terminals.

Whereas upstream data previously needed to be entered manually via the operator terminal of the unit, the required data is now imported automatically to the machine control system via the toii®.Control module, efficiently and with no errors. This includes data such as measurement values. The instruments used to measure the width and thickness of the cut metal bands have been replaced by automatic measuring systems. The thickness is measured by a radiometric sensor that needs to know the alloy content of the material in order to take an optimal measurement of the band thickness.

toii®.Integrator was implemented as an interface for third-party systems such as SAP or another enterprise resource planning system (ERP). It opens up a universe of possibilities for further data use and integration.

This interface is also used to compare target values with the actual values of the measured parameters so that they can be shown in real time to the workers at the toii®.PDC terminals. Measurement values are displayed as traffic lights, which allow the machine operator to immediately identify any deviations, in which case an automatic escalation can also be implemented.

Customer benefit

The digitalization of the facilities with toii® enables the seamless integration of various components connected to each other and the environment. The automation alone resulted in a reduction of process-related downtimes by more than ten percent with no additional measures. toii®’s user interfaces enable the machine team to operate the platform efficiently and ergonomically and have eliminated many handwritten procedures on paper from the process.

toii® also delivers timely information for shop floor management that is fed back into the ongoing improvement of technology and processes. The project is the blueprint for a comprehensive rollout for further efficiency improvements within the group.