BUEHLER AG: IOT BECOMES REALITY
DIGITISATION OF A VALUE CHAIN: FROM WAREHOUSE TO QUALITY ASSURANCE
Many of the components in the warehouse are very similar, and there is a risk of confusion. The picking of wrong components has to be minimized. In addition, unnecessary delays occur in production during the delivery process because components are not available. This is the reason for the lack of picking containers that cannot be located. The resulting delay has to be eliminated by continuous monitoring of the entire production process.
So how can the production of a company be successfully digitized? For Buehler AG in Uzwil, Germany, Simplifier AG has found a way to implement a digitally supported process from the warehouse to quality assurance.
Anyone who eats nuts or pasta, drinks coffee or beer, feeds animals, burns wood pellets, reads magazines or drives a car will not do without the Buehler AG. Headquartered in Uzwil, Switzerland, the company employs over 10,500 people in more than 140 countries worldwide. The product portfolio includes the development and production of machines and plants for raw material refinement, whether for the food, automotive or chemical industries. In addition, Buehler AG is particularly committed to fundamental research with a view to offering pioneering technologies for resource processing in the future.
Digitisation of a production line
WRONG ITEMS PICKED
Lot of components are similar to each other, this leads to confusion
WHERE ARE WHICH COMPONENTS?
Time loss due to picking carts that can’t be localized.
MISTAKES IN PRODUCTION
No guidance → errors and time loss
MANUAL QUALITY CONTROL
Time-consuming paper-based control process
business across the enterprise. We can now utilize modern digital solutions
in almost every department, creating added value for the whole company.”
As a 150-year-old diverse manufacturing and engineering company, Buehler has enjoyed a long history of success manufacturing machines. However, as the rest of the manufacturing world opened its gates to the Internet of Things, the company realized that it, too, needed to gain greater process efficiency while moving away from pen-and-paper based practices.
As part of this, it needed the ability to generate interconnected applications that integrate with and update its backend systems. Knowing such a digital strategy was a mammoth task, Buehler sought a solution partner that would allow it to build applications easily and create more modern efficiencies in its business quickly.
What we did
Simplifier was used to create new, interconnected business applications that increase efficiency in existing production processes – all with little to no coding.
Simplifier partner Marktgut, an industrial IOT management consultancy from Brandenburg, took over the complete implementation of the applications and project management. CEO John Benad personally made sure that everything worked smoothly: “I received a lot of support from Simplifier AG, including technical support. With the low-code platform Simplifier the applications could be quickly configured and evaluated much more efficiently, so that a productive use of the solutions is not that far away”.
After a 5-day hackathon in Uzwil with two Simplifier developers, all the customer’s requirements were carefully considered and discussed. The result is a series of applications for different terminals that share information with each other in order to digitise and combine the assembly process as a complete process, thus assuring smooth assembly.
The result was 5 interconnected applications:
1. Smart Warehouse Management
“In the warehouse, we use glasses to identify each part ensuring that the correct components are always picked. For other sub-processes, however, there are better types of equipment that we use.” says Buehler project manager Andreas Schaellebaum. An application is executed on the Smartglass, which provides employees with feedback for each picked component. In this way, there is no risk of confusion with components that are only visible during assembly and thus cause a production delay.
2. Intelligent Logistics
If all parts have been picked for a production order, the transport boxes are temporarily stored at certain positions in the factory. This ensures that the parts are delivered just-in-time to the appropriate assembly station. The integration of beacons allows the exact positioning of each transport box to be quickly tracked and transport orders can be displayed and edited on the tablet.
3. AR supported Assembly
The production application simplifies documentation: used tools are integrated into the digitized process. In this way, it is possible continuously checking whether, for example, all screws are tightened to the correct torque. On the one hand, this information is used by the installer for checking purposes and on the other hand for subsequent documentation. “We are facing a lot of manual work, as errors inevitably occur, but they have to be resolved in quality assurance in a time-consuming process. We expect measurable improvements from the AR support”, says Andreas Schaellebaum, project manager of Buehler AG.
In the case of malfunctions, the entire process stops automatically and only starts again after manual intervention. If problems occur that cannot be solved by the technician locally on his own despite the digital assistance, there is the possibility of calling a colleague via service call and getting support.
4. Digital Quality Assurance
Even the completion of assembly, quality assurance is digitized with an application for tablets and can therefore be done paperless with immediate results. This will save a lot of time for subsequent digitization of the data. Defects can be recorded and documented via photo. With this digital support, Buehler systems are now leaving Switzerland much faster and moving to customers all over the world.
5. INCIDENT MANAGEMENT
All incidents and problems are clearly listed. Thus, sources of errors are easily identifiable and can be optimized or eliminated in the future.
What normally would be a project that would take several months or years to implement, Buehler was able to do in just weeks with Simplifier. Using the platform, all of the company’s processes – including warehouse, quality control, incident management, production and transport were connected. With new, integrated systems and a holistic overview of every piece of its operations, Buehler was empowered with greater efficiencies, better decision-making and the ability to focus more on what really matters: getting quality products out to its customers in a timely manner.
Tracking and Overview