Successful real-world testing: Liebherr tests IoT Analytics with SAS, PTC and Elisa Smart Factory

Smart asset tracking optimizes entire assembly process

Ambitious pilot project with SAS Analytics for IoT at Liebherr: At the European 4.0 Transformation Center (E4TC), SAS and partners PTC and Elisa Smart Factory have built a test environment within which Liebherr, a global manufacturer of construction machinery, can demonstrably optimize its asset tracking — with a positive impact on all aspects of production.

A test scenario was created using virtual workstations and a simulated production environment to put position data into perspective. In the pilot project, this was accomplished using a 3D engine that can import AutoCAD files. Position and status information for machines, materials, and jobs trigger activities such as component replenishment, assembly, and product transport. Analytics can be used to simultaneously predict production times. The technical and analytics results are presented in a web application and made available to external systems for further processing.

Test results were promising. In this scenario, Liebherr was able to achieve optimized transport routes, faster assembly steps for individual production stations, lower setup times at workstations, and stocks adjusted to match actual requirements on the assembly line.

The aim of the testing was to improve visibility with respect to the position of individual components in the factory at a given time. Being proprietary, siloed applications lack the flexibility to accomplish this. The objective was to generate total visibility by integrating multiple sources and visualizing the planning and position data of the individual components.

“Especially in detailed planning, it is crucial to know at all times where machines, tools, and materials are located,” said Matthias Morath, PLM Innovation Consultant at Liebherr IT-Services. “We hope the Smart Tracking Analytics we tested will allow us to optimize our entire value chain. The pilot test in E4TC’s demonstration factory showed us that this is in fact feasible.”

The demonstration factory orchestrates solutions from several vendors. PTC has contributed its industrial IoT platform Thingworx. Thingworx lets manufacturers standardize position data and provides a foundation for integrating a wide variety of data sources. Users then access the results, information, and visualizations through a Digital Twin interface provided by Elisa Smart Factory. Elisa utilizes its 3D engine to place aggregated and drill-down information into the production context obtained from the AutoCAD files. Thus, the information is easy to read and interpret by the users.

SAS Event Stream Processing receives position data from the tracking system and uses analytics to calculate things such as whether and for how long a component is located within or outside of the assembly area. In addition, SAS Analytics for IoT can predict assembly and production times in real time to enable precise planning. The multi-vendor track and trace visualization solution from Elisa facilitates the consumption of the information. Plant managers and executives receive a comprehensive view that aggregates information from many different systems.

“That was a very exciting project and a real first,” said Gregory Albelda, Manager Manufacturing at SAS DACH. “The movement of components through a production facility is a decisive factor when it comes to optimizing manufacturing. We’re pleased that the project was a success and that collaborating with the partners worked out so well. We’re looking forward to seeing this method make the jump to real-world production operations.”

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