Hannover. In manufacturing, the intelligent interconnectedness of Industry 4.0 is the way of the future, especially at the subcontracting end of the spectrum. And that, in short, is why integrated manufacturing and smart products will feature so prominently at the Industrial Supply show at this year's HANNOVER MESSE. In Hall 6, for example, the German-based plastics specialists Arburg GmbH + Co KG and Pöppelmann GmbH & Co. KG will be showing the world what individualized mass production looks like. The two companies will run a live, interactive demonstration of a five-stage process for producing personalized, smart luggage tags. The overall process will combine a mix of injection molding, additive manufacturing, automation and digital integration. The growing trend towards integrated manufacturing is also a key focus for ContiTech. The international rubber and plastics technology company is running a showcase at this year's HANNOVER MESSE themed "ContiTech. Smart Solutions beyond Rubber."
The joint demonstration by Arburg and Pöppelmann straddles two of HANNOVER MESSE's trade shows: Digital Factory and Industrial Supply. It also symbolizes the steadily growing role of IT in the industrial supply sector. Visitors will be able to witness a pioneering Industry 4.0 manufacturing process from start to finish as smart luggage labels are manufactured right before their eyes in accordance with the principles of distributed production. The exhibit at the Arburg display at Stand K16 in Hall 6 will demonstrate the supreme flexibility and cost-effectiveness of automated, batch-size-one production. Injection molding, industrial additive manufacturing and automation will be combined to achieve customer-specific individualization of the product (luggage tag), and the process data will be recorded and tracked using the Arburg host computer system (ALS). Heinz Gaub, Managing Director Technology & Engineering at Arburg, explains the highlights of this immersive Industry 4.0 application scenario: "Our mini factory at the Arburg stand (K16) and the associated 'Web shop' display operated by our partner Pöppelmann (Stand B18) will illustrate the key elements of Industry 4.0: sequential manufacturing at spatially distributed locations, 'mass customization' – by which I mean customer-specific individualization of high-volume parts through the combination of injection molding and additive manufacturing – and end-to-end traceability of each individual part using our Arburg host computer system (ALS)."
The five stations of smart tag production
Here's how the display works. At the first station, an individual turnkey solution, consisting of an Allrounder 375V injection molding machine and a flexible, space-saving robot cell with an integrated six-axis robot, produces the luggage tags in high volumes. The robot removes each finished molded part from the machine and fits an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip, thereby enabling the tag to store and communicate information. The next step in the flexible production process can take place at both the Arburg and the Pöppelmann stands. It involves visitors using an input terminal to select their own graphic motifs for the design of their tag and to generate an electronic business card (vCard). The vCard data is then loaded onto the tag's NFC chip at the Arburg stand. At its stand (B18), Pöppelmann will showcase the 'Web shop' component of this Industry 4.0 business model. This involves customers (visitors) entering their individual luggage-tag requirements via an online portal. Each such "order" generates a QR code that is either emailed directly to the customer's smartphone or printed out on paper. At the Arburg stand, the QR code is read by a scanner, and the associated data is loaded onto the NFC chip for use in the downstream production process. Thus, in true Industry 4.0 style, the part being processed (in this case, the luggage tag) carries its own data and is able to identify itself to the individual downstream processing stations and manage the remainder of the production process.
Thorsten Koldehoff, Sales Manager, Pöppelmann KAPSTO®, explains: "As contributors to this demo application, we are striving to give visitors a tangible feel for how individual customer requirements and preferences can flow into the overall production process, thus opening up completely new business models."
Constant traceability of process and quality data
At the next station, the customer's personal data (name, address, phone number, etc) and vCard in the form of a QR code are laser-marked onto the tag. All of the parts handling tasks associated with this are performed by an Integralpicker V vertical picker machine. Next, the tag is further individualized by a Freeformer 3D printer, which additively applies the graphic motif that was selected at the second station. In this way, something that starts out as a large-volume product is transformed into a fully individualized product. At the final station, visitors discover how they can use their smart luggage tags to perform data-supported actions, such as placing online orders for brochures using the integrated NFC chip. Furthermore, the visitor's contact data can be read from the card either via QR code scanner or NFC scanner. The dataset includes the individual URL address of the tag's website. The website in turn contains all of the tag's process and quality data, which can be tracked at all times.
ContiTech invests in smart systems and integrated solutions
"Digitalization is a major opportunity for us to work with our customers to generate added value on a lasting basis," explains Hans-Jürgen Duensing, the member of the Continental Executive Board responsible for the ContiTech division. "As suppliers to industry and hence as part of the overall value chain, we can play a key part as enablers of digitalization and shapers of the necessary industrial infrastructure. Intelligently connected systems, machinery and equipment pave the way for this. Which is why we're working tirelessly to make our products and systems smarter and offer end-to-end solutions."
At this year's HANNOVER MESSE, ContiTech (Hall 6, Stand F18) will unveil its permanently installable and digitally connected monitoring system for steel cord conveyor belts. Conveyor belts are the beating heart of many industrial sectors. They are used in a multitude of applications and environments, ranging from open-pit and underground mining to transportation of goods up steep inclines and across distances spanning kilometers. In harsh operating conditions, they transport loads weighing several tons, not to mention sharp, hot, oily and greasy goods. Their fault-free operation is often crucial to the cost-effectiveness of entire production chains. Prolonged belt system outages can bring entire production systems to a complete standstill, costing their operators a fortune in lost sales. That is why plant operators are increasingly turning to preventive maintenance based on innovative electronic monitoring systems that accurately track the operating states of their conveyor belt systems at all times.
Using RFID to optimize localization of longitudinal rips
"Serious conveyor belt damage, such as longitudinal rips and splice faults, for example, can have major consequences for overall system operation and, at worst, can even lead to total system failures," explains ContiTech application engineer Patrick Raffler. "With the Conti MultiProtect monitoring system, operators can continuously check for these sorts of faults without having to shut the system down. This enables them to detect faults early on and initiate repairs well before the damage worsens and results in a prolonged stoppage." The way it works is that rip inserts are implanted in the conveyor belt and continuously monitored for telltale changes in their magnetic fields. In other words, if a belt begins to rip, the insert will also be damaged, which changes its magnetic characteristics. What's more, each rip insert has an RFID chip that enables the operator to pinpoint the exact location of the insert in the event of a cable rip.
As well as MultiProtect, ContiTech will be showcasing a further development of its ViProtect vibration analysis app for iOS and Android. With the app installed, users can now use their smartphones to analyze vibrations in vehicle cabs, engines and other industrial equipment. Excessive vibration can result in overloading of key components, leading to damage and, ultimately, prolonged and expensive repair shutdowns. Targeted tests help to analyze the vibration characteristics of industrial vehicles and machinery. The app then uses this measurement data to find solutions and suggest options for a suitable suspension system. This helps increase machinery service life and improve user comfort.