The smart factory is built on data – data that is acquired from machinery and products seamlessly in real time, then transformed into value-added information and finally presented to operators in a way that is easy to interpret and act upon. Accomplishing these feats has never been quicker, easier or more flexible than it is with B&R's scalable edge computing solutions. Among those already enjoying the benefits of B&R edge computing is automotive supplier Edscha, who recently rolled out a new process data acquisition and analysis system at their largest production site in Germany.

"We've already integrated a dozen of our more than 250 systems," reports Ferdinand Weidinger, electrical systems maintenance team leader at the Edscha production plant in Hengersberg. "We have plenty of plans for the future, but for now our focus is on the rollout – and that's not just here in Hengersberg."

In the Lower Bavarian town of Hengersberg, Edscha produces and assembles hinge systems, brake pedals, handbrakes and electric liftgate drives for the automotive industry. When the company began producing its first safety-relevant product around ten years ago, it was confronted with a new challenge: digital acquisition of operational and product data.

At its Hengersberg site alone, Edscha machines more than 30,000 parts per day – that's one every few seconds. By comparing the prescribed parameter setpoints against the actual settings, Edscha is able to avoid waste and optimize utilization of its production resources. (Source: Edscha)

The solution: A powerful standard product

The much-anticipated digital industrial transformation promises unprecedented levels of efficiency and performance generated by cutting-edge technological innovations. Much of the truly sustainable advancements in productivity and competitiveness will be achieved by accessing previously untapped potential. The best way to gain this access: with a powerful and feature-rich product that is available off-the-shelf and offers a long product lifecycle.

Legacy structures hinder the flow of data

Having grown organically over time, legacy software systems generally have duplicate structures and various obstructions that make it difficult or even impossible to correlate and consolidate data. While there may be areas where plenty of data is collected, it remains segregated in strictly isolated systems.

Shop floor communication

Shop floor communication relies on classic fieldbus protocols like ANSL, Profibus DP, ProfiNET and Modbus TCP. In the future OPC UA will play a leading role. Supported by a wide range of control systems, these can be used to integrate real-time data from the installed devices and machines.

Edscha's highly automated lines produce large quantities of OEM parts for the automotive industry, including hinges and electric drives for liftgates. (Source: Edscha)

Extensive analytics and reporting features

In addition to providing the connectivity that allows access to manufacturing data, the primary functions of an edge computing system are to analyze that data and report the results. B&R's integrated Business Intelligence Suite encompasses a BI server for web-based reporting and offers intuitive dashboards and ad hoc reports. The web-based tools allow average users with no previous experience to create their own customized reports and view interactive dashboards.

Ferdinand Weidinger

Team Leader - Electrical Systems Maintenance, Edscha Automotive Hengersberg GmbH

"B&R's edge computing solution promised to be powerful and flexible – and its performance in the field did not disappoint. The reporting and analytics features have been particularly effective. We're now able to connect our systems more quickly and elegantly, and the data we collect is much easier to evaluate and present."

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