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Collaborative demo shows 'batch of one' production in action

09 June, 2016

A crowd-puller at the recent Hannover Fair was a collaborative demonstration by several companies showing Industry 4.0 concepts – in particular, mass customisation – in action. The demo was manufacturing individual keyrings in colours and with text (names or phone numbers) specified by visitors via a Web site. They also had the option of incorporating a smartchip that would allow them to find the key using a smartphone.

The demonstration was supervised by an SAP MES (manufacturing execution system) and included equipment from Beckhoff, the robot-maker Staubli, the machine vision firm Asentics, Honeywell’s metrology division, the 3D printing specialist Stratasys, the industrial printing supplier CAB, and the wearables manufacturer, Proglove.

The various robots, conveyors (a Beckhoff XTS transport system with about 70 autonomous “movers”), cameras, printers and other equipment were all operating independently. Once a keyring order had been placed, the details were distributed from the MES to the equipment via OPC-UA. Robot arms placed the parts onto the conveyor system, laser printers engraved the customised text onto the keyring shells, while the machine vision systems performed quality control at the end of the production chain.

The multi-vendor demonstration at Hannover showed Industry 4.0 concepts in action

As well as producing the keyrings in batches of one, the demonstration also showed how the status of individual orders can be checked at any time, and how it is possible to compare KPIs (key performance indicators) across production lines.

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