With sensor components that collect data from machines and installations at a central location, drive engineering is making a significant contribution to Industrie 4.0. The Schaeffler Group is pursuing its goal to "transform conventional mechanical products and integrate them into the digital world." With its Smart Ecosystem 4.0 this major industry player is showcasing its new comprehensive, cloud-based hardware and software infrastructure at MDA (Hall 22, Stand A12) which "includes every stage of digital added value – from components equipped with sensors through to digital services." The system’s flexible architecture gives manufacturers and operators of machines and equipment a "simple and application-oriented point of entry" into Schaeffler’s range of digital services.
In the Schaeffler concept, the rolling bearing system, its mechatronic derivatives, and the corresponding domain expertise are the main source of information: The FAG VarioSense, a rolling bearing system that is based on standard products and can be configured in a modular fashion, enables the company and its customers to “equip virtually every desired bearing position with sensors.”
The principle? The data is transferred to the Schaeffler cloud via a flexible gateway. An automated rolling bearing diagnosis or remaining useful life calculation provides precise information on the condition of the bearing and the machine, which also recommends specific actions. It will also be possible to use real load data to make adjustments to operational machine processes in real time. According to Schaeffler, this system represents "an important step where not only complex systems but also simple assemblies and machines will have easy access to digitalization and the Internet of Things."
With its cloud-capable FAG SmartCheck, Schaeffler is presenting an Industrie 4.0-capable module based on vibration monitoring at MDA. The MQTT interface provides a direct link to the Schaeffler cloud or any other platform based on IBM technology. Customers here have direct access to automated diagnoses based on rolling bearing vibration data and other rotating components (e.g. waves). Customers receive partially automated recommended actions, or in the case of more complex machines, a connection to the Schaeffler Service Center, which recommends individual action. In the next stage, it will be possible to use the SmartCheck to record speed and torque and classify this load data. In the cloud the Bearinx rolling bearing calculation tool will then be used to compare the real load data with the load data from the design phase and calculate the rolling bearing’s remaining useful life.
Schaeffler competitor ZF Friedrichshafen (Hall 25, A12) is taking a different path: "We're driving integrated automation in the industrial sector," explains the company. Its slogan "See – Think – Act" describes the transformation from pure mechanics to intelligent mechanical systems that record, analyze and act according to situation. "ZF expertise combines environmental sensors such as cameras or radars ("see") with central electronic control units in the vehicle ("think"). Intelligent mechatronics in the drive, chassis, and steering system then convert the insights gained into actions ("act")," says ZF.
"The intelligent combination of mechanics, electronics and digital technologies is crucial to developing adequate solutions for the mobility trends of the future," says Cornelia Sonnleitner, Head of Marketing and Communications, ZF Friedrichshafen AG. One example of this is the company's Smart Gearbox. In this intelligent gearbox design, ZF combines the latest sensor technology with data analysis tools to increase the efficiency and reliability of rail vehicles and the related infrastructure. Functions such as vibration monitoring, and determining oil condition and thermal behavior are a part of this. With intelligent performance management, ZF is also trying to improve control of the power output of wind power installations. "Intelligent wind turbines" contain cutting edge features to record real loads and the condition of the drive during operation as well as new approaches to reduce service bills.