Practical example: how SMEs are properly digitalising with the IoT
This practical example shows how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can succeed in
digitalising their manufacturing both pragmatically and cost-effectively with the Internet of Things
Digitalising their production with the IoT offers a lot of potential for medium-sized companies. When
networked sensors automatically warn of technical problems on equipment, SMEs can readily
prevent breakdowns, improve capacity planning, and increase overall productivity. This can now also
be achieved with the budgets and resources of SMEs as the example of Bornemann Gewindetechnik
With low-cost sensor hardware and the intelligent functions of the IoT platform Conrad Connect, it
has quickly and easily made part of the existing machinery “smart”. Even this small step can save the
company thousands of euros annually. You can find out here in what pragmatic and efficient ways
the SME achieves this added value.
The challenge of smart production management
Bornemann Gewindetechnik from Delligsen in southern Lower Saxony is a classic “hidden champion”. With over 60 employees, the company manufactures highly individual threaded spindles and thread components for the production machines of global corporations at a rural location.
In order to maintain and expand its market position as a specialised quality supplier, managing partner Moritz von Soden is increasingly focusing on networked applications of the IoT: “IoT will be a key factor for mechanical engineering in five to ten years at the latest. If you start now, you are investing in the future”.
Based on this conviction, Bornemann Gewindetechnik has started to modernise its own production with sensors, radio technology, and algorithms. With their help, the machines should be able to communicate when they are at a standstill because of a problem explanation or a changeover. When smart technology sends this data to the plant’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES), the MES software can better plan order distribution. In addition, there is no longer any need for staff to check that everything is running.
Bornemann Gewindetechnik has been looking for such an IoT solution for a long time. But the solution offered was aimed more at large companies in terms of scope and pricing – completely oversized and uneconomical for an SME. This changed at the beginning of 2021 when von Soden became aware of Conrad Connect.
The easy way for SMEs into the IoT
Conrad Connect provides IoT applications as a platform as a service in the cloud in order to meet the needs of SMEs. Through a web-based user interface, customers can select various sensors and actuators as well as IoT functions in a modular fashion. With easily configurable if-then rules, the technology can be linked and thus automated. Customers do not need their own development and hosting resources for this.
Planning and implementation took only a few weeks. The IoT technology was then ready for use at Bornemann. Test operations have been running at four plants since March 2021. On three machines, IoT sensors use different characteristics to measure whether the technology is running, at a standstill, or in need of a fault clearance. On a fourth machine, operators can manually request additional skilled workers for assistance using a smart radio button. Unlike before, the operator does not have to leave the machine for this.
In addition, sensor states and switching actions can be viewed centrally on a Conrad Connect browser dashboard. This increases transparency about machine availability and makes it much easier to make informed business decisions. In this way, Bornemann Gewindetechnik effectively improvesthe basis for sustainably increasing the company’s efficiency and earnings.
Four-figure savings per year with each individual use case
The test phase is still running. But the benefits are already clearly measurable in certain areas. “The ‘master alert’ via smart button alone offers us a clear financial advantage. The investment of a few hundred euros is offset by an annual saving of several thousand euros because operators do not have to go in search of fault clearance technicians but rather can use their time productively on the machine”, says von Soden.
It's already clear that Bornemann Gewindetechnik will implement further automation options with the help of the IoT platform from Conrad Connect . Moritz von Soden’s experience with it is very positive. And this after initially having reservations about cloud services. In the video, he reveals why he is now positively disposed towards this technology approach, how he has experienced the set-up and operation of the IoT solution from Conrad Connect so far, and what tips he can give other mechanical engineering SMEs.