Live test illustrates benefits of digitalization / fully automated communication between production and logistics; opens up new horizons
Frankenthal (Germany) – Manufacturing replacement parts and shipping them out to the customer the very same day could soon become the industry standard. Same-day production and delivery is possible if communications between production and logistics is fully automated. This was illustrated in a first-of-its-kind live demo conducted by Deutsche Post DHL in partnership with AXIT and evosoft – IT companies that are part of the Siemens family – along with Siemens Mobility, Intelligent Traffic Systems.
The live experiment was carried out during a customer event sponsored by IT service provider AXIT and viewed by more than 100 participants online and in real time on monitors set up at the venue in Frankenthal, Germany. It showed the path of an urgently needed replacement part as it moved from the initial order through production to final delivery: all in a single day. Every link in the chain – man and machine alike – worked together seamlessly in a fully automated and digital process using modern tools of digitalization such as the internet of things, cloud-based technology, and data analytics. The cloud-based IT platform AX4, operated by AXIT, served as the central “control tower.”
“The only way to illustrate the benefits of digitalization is to make them tangible and simply give new ideas a try,” remarked Frauke Heistermann, Member of the AXIT Management Board. The showcase project allowed over 100 participants from the manufacturing, commercial, and logistics sectors to watch a live demo throughout the event showing how information is shared digitally between human beings and machines and processes are perfectly synchronized.
The live experiment, based on the idea of a microfactory, involved having the AX4 logistics platform transmit a production order to a production machine. Through machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, evosoft was able to ascertain in its “Industry 4.0 testing and application center” in Nuremberg that the necessary production capacity was available and the machine could complete the order in the specified time. During the production process, the machine gave real-time status updates on the production order to AX4. Once the job was reported as complete, a transport order was generated through the cloud-based IT platform. This, too, was fully automated. Last but not least, Deutsche Post DHL picked up the shipment, which already had a package label, and delivered it to Frankenthal only four hours after the order had been placed. The last-mile delivery was carried out using an electric scooter.
The integrated, automated collaboration of all participants was documented live during the event. Everyone was able to track and see every phase of the project online. The app from Siemens Mobility, Intelligent Traffic Systems made it possible to track the shipment on a map. The integration of live traffic information also made it possible at any given point to predict the arrival time. Despite heavy traffic, the newly manufactured replacement part was delivered precisely on time to the full assembly of attendees at the end of the AXIT customer event.
“This example shows that same-day production and delivery of urgently needed parts can succeed if the processes are digitalized end to end and the production equipment and 3D printers can be connected with the logistical processes in a network,” Heistermann adds.