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Diagnosis and maintenance for the Internet of Things

It's always a remarkable spectacle: When the tiny tugboats in the Port of Hamburg pull one of the huge ocean-going container ships behind them along the long quay wall between HafenCity and the Kohlbrand Bridge. Often, the supplier of the tugboat engines that make this all happen is Baumüller. Since its foundation in 1930, the globally active company has developed into a German world market leader.

But it has long expanded beyond producing marine engines: the global player is now a specialist in all kinds of electrical automation and drive systems. Today, at 40 locations worldwide Baumüller develops and produces intelligent system solutions for many industrial sectors, the fields of e-mobility and power generation as well as software solutions from its own systems house: its subsidiary Baumüller Anlagen-Systemtechnik.

Baumüller: Pioneer in the field of predictive maintenance

Since 1998, the automation expert has been operating the BAUDIS diagnostic system, which centrally monitors machinery – particularly printing presses – around the clock, minimizing downtimes and enabling operators to plan maintenance measures more efficiently. The basis for this is an industrial PC that uses sensors on the machines to monitor parameters such as lag or motor current. In the case of unusual values, such as particularly strong vibrations, companies can check the machine in question before any breakdown brings the entire production process to a standstill. In the unlikely event of a malfunction, service staff develop solutions around the clock if required, which a technician can implement directly on site. In addition, machines equipped with BAUDIS can also be reset and faults rectified via a secure Internet connection.

With this innovative solution, Baumüller was ahead of the curve on a trend that has since become established everywhere in industry: According to a recent study by the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) and management consultants Roland Berger, almost 80 percent of businesses see the benefits of predictive maintenance, above all in the increased performance of production technology. This makes plants available for longer and processes more stable.

Baumüller and& Open Telekom Cloud

Public cloud for predictive maintenance

At that time, the focus was still on equipping larger systems, such as newspaper printing plants. The new BAUDIS IoT system, on the other hand, had to also be cost-efficient for smaller systems in order to be able to serve serial production customers in mechanical engineering and optimize processes at different locations. For example, a textile manufacturer with 40 maintenance employees in Germany to keep systems running and a single technician in the United States, who has to take care of the same number of machines. The technician overseas needs the support of his colleagues at the headquarters in Germany via remote maintenance from the cloud. Baumüller was therefore looking for a solution to network the machines around the globe.

"At the Hannover Messe, we opted for Telekom's public cloud solution," says Norbert Süß, project leader for BAUDIS IoT at Baumüller. "The offer seemed exactly right for us because we were looking for a strong partner in data protection and data security.” The fact that Telekom operates data centers in Germany according to local standards is an important selling point for Baumüller's customers. The Open Telekom Cloud, which is based on OpenStack, has also been certified according to the Trusted Cloud Data Protection Profile (TCDP) 1.0. This certifies that Telekom's public cloud service offers companies the technical prerequisites necessary to meet the requirements of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But Norbert Süß was not satisfied with security only on paper: He convinced himself of Telekom's security concept, including visiting one of the company’s highly secure data centers in Munich.

Baumüller project manager Norbert Süß "Managing everything flexibly via the cloud": Norbert Süß, project leader for BAUDIS IoT at Baumüller, always has an overview of machines thanks to the Open Telekom Cloud.

Data analysis for robots from the Open Telekom Cloud

After that Baumüller was completely convinced: Since April 2017, the global player has been networking machines worldwide using the Open Telekom Cloud, monitoring their condition and analyzing their performance to identify potential for improvement – all in two variants: One is as a retrofittable solution for existing brownfield applications and the other is an integrated system for new greenfield applications. A hardware box or an industrial PC collects information from machines via external sensors, controllers, motors and other components, depending on the intended use. For example, the device measures parameters such as temperature, running time and load changes and sends the data to the cloud via WLAN, LAN or LTE.

This enables companies, for example, to monitor the function of production robots in the automotive industry. Among other things, the system can continuously check how tightly robot arms grip components – if the grip is too tight, the arm could damage the component, and if there is too little pressure, it could let it fall. It can also check how heavily the axes of the robots are actually loaded when loading and unloading conveyor belts.

One of the big advantages: Previously, companies replaced robots at the end of the specified operating hours as a precaution. However, data analysis now shows that this exchange is usually not yet necessary. With BAUDIS IoT based on the Open Telekom Cloud, companies can evaluate this data centrally from any location. This saves them money. And that's not all: With big data analytics, companies can compare the utilization of machines in different plants and locations, optimize processes and increase production without fearing downtimes due to breakdowns – because BAUDIS IoT warns in plenty of time.

Machines in focus with Open Telekom Cloud

Baumüller also avails of these advantages itself: The company has already networked its own plants with the system and is constantly upgrading them. The solution is independent of machine manufacturer or year of manufacture; customers can flexibly retrofit and expand the system. "Thanks to the ability to plan maintenance measures, we can use BAUDIS IoT to improve the running times of the machines," says Süß. "And our customers also save time and money, because in many cases technicians no longer have to come in, as we can already manage a lot of things flexibly via the Open Telekom Cloud.”


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