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A common language: How IoT revolutionizes production in the automotive sector

With the help of innovative technologies, we are preparing the automotive sector for a digitalized and agile future for example at our BILSTEIN plant in Hamilton, Ohio. The complex facility for shock absorbers is the perfect test environment for a central IoT solution: Our Connected Factory.

The daily work at our production site in Hamilton is filled with countless processes that complement each other. Whether we produce original equipment or components for the aftermarket, the product undergoes multiple steps before our colleagues hold a finished shock absorber in their hands – and even numerous machines. To minimize this complexity and potential delays, our automotive experts in Hamilton turned to new, digital solutions. A central IoT platform, called “Connected Factory”.

To coordinate many individual production steps, our experts use the IoT tools of the Connected Factory.

IoT revolutionizes everyday production in the automotive sector

The Connected Factory brings software and hardware together and enables different machines to speak one common language. Together with the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) – a system that manages all production processes – the activities of various machines can now be coordinated and production made more efficient.

This way, the IoT solution benefits thyssenkrupp in every respect. “On the one hand, the platform contributes to the comprehensibility of the individual machines because it encodes their different “languages” into a universal one. On the other hand, the re-encryption and permanent monitoring of the processes can prevent an external attack on the system,” explains Stephan Birkmann, Head of Manufacturing Application Solutions.

In Hamilton, the implementation of the Connected Factory shows that it’s possible to standardize the processes between two different machines – without errors and only a short amount of time: “In addition, process data can be recorded, which we use for optimization and proactive error detection in the manufacturing process,” says Alex Birnkraut, Industrial Data Scientist at BILSTEIN.

The automotive components manufactured at our plant in Ohio are produced for the OE and aftermarket and special vehicles.

Real innovation is applicable innovation

 For an IoT solution to work in everyday production, it must also be applicable to older generation machines. As the reality on many sites shows, production plants are not always equipped with the latest high-end machinery. With the digital network and data exchange of the “Connected Factory”, we can now also integrate older machines without modern sensors.

A steep learning curve

 Other thyssenkrupp plants are already learning from the pilot project in Hamilton. Such as the Springs & Stabilizers plant in Debrecen, Hungary. Here more than six million springs and stabilizers are produced each year for renowned European auto manufacturers.

With the Connected Factory, we are taking a step towards standardizing digital networking in the production of automotive components.

At our plant in Hungary, too, networking helps to better coordinate production and offer quality control in every production phase. “Thanks to the Connected Factory we can ensure high customer satisfaction: The platform also allows us to create a digital twin product which offers many new opportunities.” explains Sören Menna, responsible for the introduction of MES at thyssenkrupp Springs & Stabilizers.

A smart factory is always a connected factory

With the implementation of the Connected Factory, thyssenkrupp has arrived in the digital future of automotive component production. The advantages of IoT have been proven successfully at our two plants in the USA and Hungary and have set new standards for our production. And in future, many more plants will speak one common language.