Digitalisation is continuing its unstoppable progress, but most companies still see it as a sword of Damocles hanging over their head, rather than the Holy Grail. Responding to a survey by the German IT industry association Bitkom (currently only available in German), more than 70 per cent of companies said that digitalisation represented a “big challenge” for them. Just under a fifth even thought it threatened their survival. Yet digitalisation opens up opportunities for companies to extend and redefine their business models and enables them to master competitive challenges.
With its three modules – Intelligent Service, Industry 4.0 and Smart Service – SCS involves everyone involved in a process in a digital business model. The Intelligent Service module provides service engineers with an integrated, efficient maintenance process, while the Industry 4.0 module includes the finished machines in SCS processes and manages the transfer and usage of machine data in the cloud. Machines that were not originally designed to be smart can also be connected to these processes, helping to protect customers’ investments in their equipment. The third module, Smart Service, enables machine builders to involve customers in their business model with a branded app. They can provide customers with intelligent information services, such as current production output, costs and effectiveness levels, as well as details of the machines’ condition. This provides them with the opportunity to optimise the pricing strategy and long-term value of their machines.
Asseco Solutions will be using various showcase stations to demonstrating each module’s functions on its booth at CeBIT (Stand B26 in Hall 5).
Demo machine triggers smart maintenance processes
Asseco specialists will be illustrating the interaction between a machine and SCS service processes using a smart demo machine. In a similar way to a spare parts dispenser, the machine is able to monitor its own fittings continuously. If the system detects a gap, the machine’s rotating arm points to the relevant spot and automatically triggers a service ticket in the SCS system. Once the missing part has been replaced, the machine detects this too. It starts working again and notifies the SCS cloud that all is running perfectly.
With the SCS Intelligent Service module, machines are not the only items able to trigger a service ticket in the SCS system. External systems like ERP can also be connected to SCS, enabling them to communicate with it in accordance with Industry 4.0 principles. At another showcase on the Asseco stand, the company’s specialists will be demonstrating this interaction using Asseco’s own APplus ERP solution as an example.
To give an example of how this works, a customer could make a phone call to report an error in their machine and the person taking the call creates the service order in APplus in the usual way. The relevant order data is then sent to SCS. The Intelligent Service module in SCS then deals with planning and managing the service appointment at the customer site. During the visit, all the data on its duration of the repairs, and the materials used by the engineer, is entered into the SCS mobile app. This includes the digital sign-off by the customer on the engineer’s mobile device. SCS then sends this information to the ERP solution automatically, enabling it to start any follow-up processes, such as invoicing.
QR codes support integration of older machines
Some types of machines are not “smart” enough to be integrated in the SCS cloud without changes as they may need machine controller upgrades or additional hardware. If this is not possible for cost or compliance reasons, SCS provides options to integrate machines using analogue or digital tags.
These can be added in various ways depending on requirements. One option is to add a static QR code or NFC tag to the machine that includes its serial number, enabling the machine operator to scan it with a mobile device while the machine is running. The scan takes the operator to a special web portal where he or she can carry out additional actions, such as reporting a functional defect, creating a service ticket, providing production data or documentation, and viewing user guides. As the relevant machine information has already been entered automatically, staff can carry out the activities quickly and easily without needing to laboriously collect the data from the machine by hand.
An alternative option is to provide machine operators with a comprehensive document containing a range of QR codes. These are not linked to a web portal, but instead report an action or event to the cloud automatically – such as confirming that the machine has successfully manufactured 1000 products. This method is very similar to the integration of a “real” smart machine in that the data sent to the cloud can be processed by the target system in almost the same way as data sent by a smart machine.
Some types of machines are already capable of generating their own QR code autonomously during production operations. When scanned, this delivers the relevant information to the cloud system. Special hardware components can also perform this action as they are integrated with the machine’s sensors and can generate the codes dynamically.
Special app provides customers with insight into machine data
With its third module, Smart Service, SCS also optimises processes for end customers. It delivers a personalised, branded app in the name of the machine builder to give customers access to operational, production and maintenance information about their machines that is stored in the SCS cloud. On this year’s CeBIT stand, Asseco specialists will be showing one of these demo apps.
The mobile app delivers a detailed overview to users of their machine assets, including data concerning orders that the machines are currently working on, the materials used, and the number of hours the machines have been working. Customers can use the integrated dashboards to check analyses and indicators on production processes at any time. The app also shows them data about the last planned maintenance operation and the date of the next one. In an emergency, customers can also report any failures manually and book a service engineer to resolve them. Last but not least, the end customer app also provides an integrated news channel that enables machine builders to keep customers informed of the latest information, such as details of upcoming training courses.
Digital business models for midsized companies on the Asseco stand at CeBIT
Visitors can obtain further details about the SCS smart service solution, along with practical demos at the showcase stations, on the Asseco stand (B26 in Hall 5) at this year’s CeBIT in Hannover from 20 to 24 March. The ERP provider will be showing live demonstrations of the direct interaction between APplus and OR Laser’s 3D metal printer and laser engraving machine. Asseco specialists will also be on hand to answer any questions on digitalisation and smart manufacturing/Industry 4.0. Customers and other interested parties can arrange a meeting at CeBIT 2017 with Asseco Solutions specialists by emailing their request to email@example.com. Requests for press interviews will be handled by phronesis PR on +49(0)821/444-800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.