IES worked closely with Fersa Bearings, a manufacturer of complete bearing solutions for the automotive industry, to expand and demonstrate the capabilities of its digital twin solutions for manufacturing, in this Industry 4.0 award winning project.
Fersa Bearings is a Spanish multinational company devoted to the design, development, manufacturing and distribution of high-quality complete bearing solutions for the automotive industry. Through the EU Horizon 2020 project, STREAM-0D, they worked closely with IES to help develop and demonstrate the capabilities of its digital twin technology for the manufacturing sector, helping to define the industrial requirements and specifications for the implementation of simulation-based control in their production lines.
The STREAM-0D project aimed to create an innovative control system to help tackle one of the main challenges of the manufacturing industry: reaching a zero-defect production. The solution involved using multi-physics simulation models, fed with actual data from online measurements, to predict product quality indicators in response to critical input parameters. Based on the model predictions, it is possible to adjust production to meet exact design specifications, helping to reduce product variability, increase the line flexibility, and eventually achieve the goal of zero defect production.
Through the project, IES enhanced the capabilities of its existing data analytics platform, iSCAN (which forms part of its extended suite of digital twin technology) to meet the very specific needs of the manufacturing sector. The efficient operation of manufacturing facilities is of course reliant on maintaining detailed oversight of what is happening across multiple production lines, data sources and systems, which can be challenging to achieve in what is an extremely fast-moving environment. Being able to track and analyse vast amounts of data down to a very precise level of detail is therefore key to optimising production and the overall performance of any facility.
Fersa instrumentalised their lines heavily and had invested in multiple sensors and data collection. However, they needed a system that could deliver intelligent faults and alarms, and which allowed key staff to keep track of production, even when they were away from the shop floor. The project aimed to develop a system to catch and eliminate defects as they happen so that production waste could be greatly reduced and quality assured.
To support this goal, IES developed a specially designed version of their iSCAN data management and interrogation platform at Fersa’s ball bearing production line to collect and automatically analyse data at 1-second resolution from across 129 sensors. The version of iSCAN developed in this project presented an even more powerful variant of the existing software, having been specifically developed for the manufacturing environment and its massive data generation demands.
Through the iSCAN platform, IES were able to create bespoke dashboards to automatically take data from the sensors, interrogating and analysing it almost simultaneously to plot 10 key metrics which had been chosen by Fersa, such as temperature changes. When items are coming off the production line every 20 seconds, it is vital to get the information as close to real-time as possible, which is what the iSCAN platform and dashboards developed in this project made possible. Due to the cloud-based nature of the platform, Fersa were additionally able to achieve near real-time views of their facility’s production performance remotely, from any location worldwide.
In 2019, Fersa received an Industry 4.0 award from Sisamex after showcasing the advanced technologies installed at their factory, including their application of digital twins and the iSCAN near real-time dashboards developed through STREAM-0D. Subsequently, in 2020, IES was also identified by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar as a Key Innovator in recognition of its iSCAN for industry 4.0 solution.
“We are very proud to have been a partner in this cutting-edge research project, applying our innovative iSCAN technology to enable industries to adjust their manufacturing processes in near real time, introducing smart decisions based on the forecast of the models. The project team worked very hard to deliver true innovation over the 3.5 years the project ran. I’m excited to see the positive changes that this has on the manufacturing industry in the coming years.”
Giulia Barbano, R&D Operations Manager, IES