AI in combine harvester production
Harsewinkel is home to the recently extensively modernized plant of agricultural machinery manufacturer CLAAS. Up to 40 high-tech combine harvesters leave the factory here every day. “The challenge is that none of the huge agricultural machines is identical," explains Simon Krieter, Head of Plant Structure Projects at the Harsewinkel plant.16 Mar 2023
What he means by this is that depending on the crops to be harvested, the climatic conditions in the respective region, the soil conditions, the size of the fields, combine harvesters have to meet different requirements. "A combine harvester that harvests soybeans in Argentina is technically equipped quite differently than one that mows grain in northern Germany," Krieter says. "Our customers configure their combine according to their needs; our job is to produce efficiently, conserve resources, and deliver the best quality."
This brings CLAAS to a point where the company is investigating in which use cases data and artificial intelligence can support production in order to master the increased complexity, says Stefan Schulte, Director Manufacturing in Harsewinkel, "after our large-scale rebuild of combine assembly, the timing is ideal to now further optimize processes."
And this is where the Datenfabrik.NRW project of the leading-edge cluster it's OWL comes into play. The joint project aims to promote the use of artificial intelligence in industry. Together with four Fraunhofer institutes, Schmitz Cargobull and other specialist companies, CLAAS is working to implement up to 50 use cases in production.
One example is the use of AI to optimize production planning. "Our production is timed to the minute. The order situation and data structures are correspondingly detailed and complex," Krieter describes the current situation "A comprehensive analysis of these orders is hardly possible manually. An AI continuously evaluates how the different orders are distributed to the production machines in order to achieve the best possible capacity utilization. CLAAS employees then have options for action to utilize the factory to capacity in a way that conserves resources.
Other companies should also be able to use the results and experience gained from the project to make their production fit for the future. At HANNOVER MESSE, the leading-edge cluster it's OWL will be presenting initial findings from the Datenfabrik.NRW project (Hall 7 D 27).
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