Internet of Things
Software engineers and research groups that work on distributed systems and software architectures based on IoT patterns and cloud computing technologies.
The use of IoT in different industries is establishing a new technological paradigm for manufacturing and sales. The possibilities of the Industry 4.0, fostered by additive manufacturing, goes from a web-based integration of production lines to the possibility of high-quality personalized products. In the Brazilian scenario, however, the use of such technologies is moving slowly. In this sense, the promotion of IoT solutions through joint university-industry activities may be the main path towards disseminating the possibilities of this technology, including flexible manufacturing through a robotic additive manufacturing approach.
According to the Brazilian National Confederation of Industry (CNI), the intensive use of digital technologies in the Brazilian industry is less widespread. In 2016, about 58% of the overall amount of industries were aware of this importance for competitiveness, but less than half use these
technologies. Also, this maximum organization of the Brazilian industrial sector states that Industry 4.0 can be leveraged in Brazil, for example, through the creation of demonstration platforms that encourage and motivate companies to adopt digital technologies for industrial production. Companies which invest and become experts in the Industry 4.0 fundamentals indeed will become more competitive. Initiatives on these challenges can show to the industries that Advanced Manufacturing, the Industrial Internet of Things and Additive Manufacturing and Robotics, among others innovative areas, allow to integrate physical and digital technologies, to combine product development, manufacturing, and logistics planning, and to link systems, machines and human labor.
The referred innovative solutions can bring positive effects on efficiency and quality of products and services fostering the improvement of productivity, flexibility, and profitability, among others, business demands for reaching competitiveness. Therefore, initiatives such as FASTEN can promote the conditions to consolidate a breeding environment for Industry 4.0 that allows strengthening the Brazilian industry's sustainability. The advent of Industry 4.0 is posing several challenges for industry sectors - for instance, the pace of change, technologies to adopt, and user integration into the development process. In this context, digital technologies such as cloud infrastructures, Big Data, and artificial intelligence, along with physical advancements in smart materials, nanotechnology and 3D printing play a key role in such fast developing scenario (Kumar, 2018). In line with Industry 4.0's new paradigm, the FASTEN project has paved the way by disseminating an integrated and modular framework for efficiently producing custom-designed products.
The timely supply of components to the maintenance services of elevators is the Thyssenkrupp use case challenge. An ongoing Thyssenkrupp pilot has aimed to design an automated network to integrate Smart Robotic Additive Manufacturing (SRAM) units to ensure spare part availability and improve maintenance operations. Advanced 3D Printers and robotic technologies allow for a flexible integration among production, logistics, transportation, and material handling processes. On the other hand, maintenance services, spare parts lead-time, manufacturing, and inventory costs have been enhanced by integrated IoT technologies in a digital end-to-end value stream, supported by analytical decision-making approaches based on machine learning methods.
Even though implementing 3D printing for a large number of spare parts is still challenging, The company is interested in assessing the potential of this expansion for outdated and customized spare parts. To get there, the company needs to rethink the overall part design and manufacturing processes. Also, outsourced manufacturing companies in different cities in Brazil may host manufacturing units, improving spare parts production responsiveness. Furthermore, the project embraces the challenge of implementing an SRAM network to improve the production time, and logistic costs of spare parts trough a decentralize manufacturing network. Hence, the Thyssenkrupp's use case is driven by a set o FASTEN systems that integrate the SRAM unit, which is composed of 3D printers and Mobile Manipulator Robots (MMR), with the maintenance operation process. This integration aims to provide flexibility, scalability, and agility to cope with spare parts demand. Preliminary experiments have employed a set of optimization, simulation, and predictive tools, not only for the design of an optimal manufacturing network configuration and spare parts production schedule, but also to perform these goals through real-time monitoring systems, improving responsiveness and supporting decision making.
The Thyssenkrupp use case addresses the technological challenges of designing a FASTEN-based IoT broker to create the SRAM. The operationalization of such network is a strategic goal for the company in Brazil, which depends on an elaborate logistic scheme to send spare parts from its manufacturing units in the Southern region of Brazil to country's different regions and South America countries. As a result, the SRAM would deliver to Thyssenkrupp a flexible manufacturing solution for different types of elevator parts, reducing the lead time from 90 days to only four days. The flexibility of 3D printers also affects the price of spare parts, reducing the need of buying 10 to 100 pieces from suppliers (third parties) when only one is needed to solve most of the elevator's problems. The company estimates assistance improvements of around 50,000 elevators that are either outdated or that were originally produced by another manufacturer. Furthermore, the original Bill of Materials is usually no longer available in this scenario, reinforcing the need for producing one of a kind parts.
Future directions include support for 3D printers of different types, growing the manufacturing unit capacity. As the prices of 3D printers fall, and technology capabilities improve, the FASTEN project will influence not only maintenance services but the whole production process. Nowadays, the manufacturing unit is based on a centralized model. FASTEN will allow SRAM administrators to eliminate current complex and non-synchronized processes, reducing costs, and improving service levels provided to strategic locations in Brazil and other South America countries. Shortly, we expected that the maintenance team would be fully responsible for part requests, while the IoT broker supports the evaluation of demand reliability and security constraints among the interconnected systems. The technology under the FASTEN platform allows the integration of new features for smart warehouses (growing information about spare part availability) and transport (allowing for the monitoring of part displacement from the SRAM unit to the client/customer in real-time). These reinforce the sustainability of the project, extending its life cycle on industrial partners.
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