By Dr. Richard Soley, Executive Director, Industrial Internet Consortium
Earlier today, Bosch announced that it was cooperating with three other Industrial Internet Consortium members -- Cisco, National Instruments, and TechMahindra -- in the development of the first European testbed from the Industrial Internet Consortium. It's called the Track and Trace Testbed, and it will ensure that industrial power tools automatically complete their designated tasks and achieve the highest quality and efficiency necessary for connected manufacturing.
This marks a milestone for the Industrial Internet Consortium, and for the industry as a whole. When the Industrial Internet Consortium was launched 11 months ago, we committed to helping accelerate the Industrial Internet through innovation. This testbed marks the first announced deliverable, helping to mesh the digital with the physical on the factory floor.
The production of industrial and consumer goods requires exacting work. Machinery, vehicles, and aircraft, for example, necessitate the highest standards of quality. For instance, screws must be tightened with precisely the right amount of force. The question of how connected tools will better guarantee accuracy for such tasks in the future is at the heart of this innovative project. An Industrial Internet factory will track and trace tools and people, not only to ensure safety and security, but to find more efficient workflows on the factory floor.
Overall, the Track and Trace Testbed explores applications such as asset management, quality control, and work management, which are increasing overall manufacturing efficiency and cost savings:
- Safety-critical work processes are closely monitored and analyzed. Anomalies are detected -- in real-time -- through the central processing, analysis, and visualization of production process data.
- The power tool fleet manager has an exact overview of the power tool fleet status and utilization thanks to central access to process data. Organizational processes can be triggered automatically
- Quality controls are automated and shifted to earlier stages of the production process. For example, hundreds of thousands of torque recordings are made available in their entirety for quality monitoring.
- Indoor geofencing alarms ensure that power tools are used according to regulations. Not all tools are allowed for all production and maintenance steps. As soon as power tools know their location, they can switch off when used in error.
So where could Track and Trace be used? One possibility is in aircraft construction and maintenance where precise regulations specify not only the type of screw that must be used, but the amount of force that must be exerted to join specific aircraft parts (Joints on the wings naturally require a different amount of force than, say, those on an aircraft window). The tools in the Track and Trace Testbed project are WiFi-enabled and can identify their precise location on the shop floor. The position of the aircraft in the hanger is also fixed. With fixed coordinates and WiFi connectivity, we can tell that a particular tool is located at the vertical stabilizer, and instructions that specify the force used to tighten the screws on the vertical stabilizer can be automatically sent to the tool.
Both the Industrial Internet Consortium and the member organizations involved are expecting great results out of this two-year project. Track and Trace will encourage the seamless integration of power tools regardless of type and brand courtesy of open standards and interfaces. Localization accuracy is significantly fine-tuned to less than 30cm (ideally, 5cm) from today's average accuracy of one meter. Finally, Track and Trace will allow factory integration at multiple levels: from tools and workstations to manufacturing execution systems, enterprise resource planning, and production lifecycle management.
Over the next several months, there will be additional testbeds announced from the Industrial Internet Consortium, helping the industry to achieve the game-changing efficiencies promised by the Industrial Internet of Things. The public is welcome to join us in Reston on March 26 for other announcements and to view progress of "365 days into the Industrial Internet Revolutions" -- register here.