Picture: Bühler AG

Industry 4.0 realized: Bühler AG in Uzwil

About Bühler

Everyone who eats nuts or pasta, drinks coffee or beer, feeds animals, uses wood pellets for heating, reads magazines or drives a car very likely already came in contact with Bühler AG. The company is based in Uzwil, Switzerland and employs more than 10.500 people in about 140 countries worldwide and produces machines and plants to process raw materials. Bühler works for food, automotive and chemical industry and is deeply involved in basic research to be able to offer groundbreaking technologies for processing of raw materials in future.

iTiZZiMO and Bühler

All started in 2015 at an event in Berlin. Value Stream Manager & Head of Industrial Engineering MLF visited the Smar Process and Manufacturing Systems and we came in contact. Quickly, there were plans to digitally transform the process of pre-assembly. To digitize the process sustainably and eliminate sources of errors as far as possible we the transformation already started in the warehouse where all needed parts are stored and picked for all production orders. At the end of the assembly the machines are mounted completely and ready for shipment to customers worldwide. After having discussed the requirements our team created some applications for several devices that exchange information to digitally transform and connect the complete assembly process and therefore guarantee a smooth assembly. The insights from the hackathon were able to provide enthusiasm. Thus, there is nothing to prevent a rollout in Uzwil.

Smart warehouse

“In our warehouse we use the smart glasses to identify every single item. So, we can guarantee that there are no errors in picking. For other sub-processes there are more suitable device that we also use.”, says project manager Andreas Schällebaum. On the smart glass itself runs an application that gives feedback whether the picked item was the correct one or not. So, components can’t be mixed up which could lead to massive production delays.

Intelligent logistic

When all components for a production order are picked the transport boxes are stored temporarily at special positions to be delivered to the installation site just in time. Integrated beacons make it possible to quickly retrace the exact location of each transport box. Transport orders can be shown and edited on the tablet.

Production with AR support

The application for production simplifies documentation: used tools are integrated into the digitized process. Thus, the system continuously proves the work, like torque values of screws. On the one hand those information can be used by the installer himself on the other hand they are useful for subsequent documentation. “Within our production environment there is lots of manual work, errors are unavoidable. But they have to be corrected time-consumingly in the quality control process. We believe that AR support will bring measurable improvement”, says Schällebaum.

When errors are made the whole process stops and continues only after manual intervention. If the installer faces a challenge he can’t solve alone despite having digital support he can start a service call to communicate with a colleague and get support.

Quality control — digitally supported

Quality control also is digitized and can be made paperless due to an application for tablets. This saves a lot of time for subsequent digitization of information. Defects can be recorded via photo. With this kind of digital support Bühler machinery now can be sent to customers even faster.

Further functionality and the expansion to more locations are discussed at the moment.

How does this look in moving images?

Check the video to find out.