Voith relies on its own maintenance solution in the production of composite lightweight components
At its Garching plant, Voith Composites, the specialist for customized lightweight components, relies on OnCare.Asset, the maintenance solution developed by Voith. The system provides an overview of all maintenance work required. This allows better monitoring of machines and processes throughout the entire production environment.
Voith Composites specializes in the industrial production of high-quality carbon fiber composite parts for the automotive, aeronautic and mechanical engineering sectors. The company works with its customers to develop customized composite fiber solutions from the initial idea through to the prototypes, small-batch and industrial series production. What is special about Voith Composites is that it doesn’t only develop components and processes, but also fabricates and develops the necessary production equipment and automation in-house. This means that the company is in a position to get from the dry fiber straight to the finished component in a highly flexible manner.
At its Garching site, the company operates a fully automated, cost-effective production facility that is unique on the market. By using various process technologies developed in-house, Voith Composites is able to produce carbon fiber components (CFRP) as single parts, in small batches or industrial series. One such example is the CFRP rear panel for the new Audi A8. This very strong structural component has a complex carbon fiber structure with local reinforcements and is produced using the innovative Voith Roving Applicator (VRA) direct fiber placement process.
As part of a fully automated production line for lightweight components, a maintenance solution with Industry 4.0 features is of course absolutely essential. This is why the company is using Voith’s own development, OnCare.Asset.
Efficient planning of maintenance processes
“Before we used OnCare.Asset, we were not making the best of the potential of modern industrial processes and were a long way from Industry 4.0,” says Rainer Leupold, Manager Maintenance Procedures at Voith Composites. “We were using conventional methods like Excel tables, but they had their deficiencies. The linking of data could only be mapped insufficiently. In addition, the planning of maintenance measures was sometimes just arranged verbally”.
Therefore, the time was ripe to replace tables, pen and paper by a forward-looking system. OnCare.Asset offers various useful functions that Voith Composites has already implemented in part into its own production processes. For example, OnCare.Asset enables individual maintenance schedules to be set up for recurring maintenance work. The system then alerts you when the corresponding measure is due and specifies which tasks are involved. This means that Voith Composites can plan its maintenance to be faster, safer and more cost efficient throughout the entire production environment. The optimized maintenance process also improves the general condition of the production facilities, which in the long term leads to greater machine utilization and optimal control of the processes.
Automated malfunction messages and ordering processes
One of the system’s key functions is the automated generation of malfunction messages. The system communicates directly with the machine and immediately receives a signal if the machine shuts down. Apart from reducing the administrative effort for setting up a malfunction message system, the system ensures a direct information and response flow. The information collected forms the basis for evaluations of malfunction causes and their frequency. Based on the resulting patterns, Voith can define special remedial measures to counter further shutdowns.
Some areas of the shop floor in Garching are already using the mobile OnCare app, which provides support to operators at the machines. By simply scanning QR codes they can directly create a message on the scanned components. This means that they do not need to click through the entire asset structure. A push notification service is currently being developed. This would notify service personnel of malfunctions directly on their smartphones, so that they can react immediately.
Another important function of the maintenance solution is the optimized scheduling of pending maintenance work. Users can enter the replacement parts needed in the system in advance. OnCare.Asset captures this data and reserves the parts for the scheduled maintenance work. The software automatically schedules recurring tasks in the specified cycle. All pending maintenance works are displayed in the service worker’s calendar, where he or she can also document their work digitally. This means that a quick look at the calendar will identify any deviations from the planned status.
We are currently working on an interface to SAP which would allow the system to automatically execute ordering processes. This would allow MRP consumables to be procured quickly and effortlessly. It is envisaged that consumption-based replacement parts will be ordered by simply pressing the order button. This will save a considerable amount of time. Another positive consequence is the reduction of inventory.
Integration into existing IT system landscape
The generation of data from the field level is done using the standardized communication protocol OPC-UA. The necessary interfaces between machines, OnCare.Asset and SAP first have to be established.
“The biggest challenge in implementing the system was the interface design. As each machine provides its data in a different way, the respective interfaces have to be adapted and extended individually”, explains Anne-Kristin Allgaier, the project engineer charged with implementing OnCare.Asset at Voith Composites.
The interfaces between field level and OnCare.Asset have already been implemented and successfully tested on four machines. A precondition of this is having a good database already in the system. The creation of data is very important because the entire benefit of the system builds on it in subsequent use. For example, all machines are represented in digital form. This machine structure subsequently shows where malfunctions have occurred and which components need maintenance. In addition, individual measures have been defined for certain malfunctions. Building on this, an error code mapping was performed, so that the error messages also display the correct text including predefined maintenance measures. Implementation took place in close consultation between Voith’s project management and the team on site.
“We discussed the technical requirements together and included them in the plans for implementation. As far as the interfaces are concerned, we worked closely with the team of developers. As a result, any errors could be identified quickly and resolved. Overall, the teamwork was superb”, reports Allgaier.
First step towards predictive maintenance
OnCare.Asset provides a central platform that documents all the information necessary to perform maintenance. Manual assessments are therefore a thing of the past, as the system generates digital reports based on the machine data. By defining minimum inventories, replacement parts are set to be ordered automatically via OnCare.Asset.
Rainer Leupold is impressed: “OnCare.Asset simplifies our daily work enormously in respect of planning, procurement and documentation. As well as registration and transfer of malfunction messages, recurring tasks are scheduled automatically. Through the already automated generation of malfunction messages, the system is also creating the basis for predictive maintenance in the future”.