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Industrialization of the Digital Cell – IoT Solution for High-Tech Manufacturer – Linak

LINAK – innovative company with over a century of experience.

 

Industrialization of Digital cell

 

LINAK is a Danish manufacturer of innovative electric actuators that provide smooth motion control. They can be used in many areas – from the production of leisure and office furniture, through agriculture, to the medical industry and industrial automation. The company was founded in 1907, and from the beginning operated as a family enterprise. Today, LINAK is a global leader with global recognition in its field. Now over 2,000 of their employees are working in manufacturing facilities around the world (USA, Denmark, China, Slovakia, Thailand), but core values and mission remain unchanged.

 

“When visiting LINAK’s factories, it is impressive to see the innovation, attention to detail, and precision of the process at every step. Ensuring high quality and employee safety is a priority there (state-of-the-art machines are secured and equipped with a network of sensors). It is not a typical production line. Exceptional standards are easily visible there.”

– Agnieszka Kruszewska, TT PSC Solution Architect

 

Background and market insights

A base for LINAK’s strategy is locating factories in places that correspond to the supported sales areas. It guarantees that production corresponds perfectly with the needs of each market. However, manufacturing in the USA or Scandinavia is quite expensive. To stay competitive, LINAK focuses on innovation and modern production organization. The company understands the idea of Industry 4.0 and boldly explores its capabilities.

LINAK operates on a workcell-based arrangement of resources in its manufacturing organization and produces the actuators manually. The process requires exceptional delicacy and precision, and this approach guarantees better quality, accuracy, and attention to detail when compared to the production line organization.

Each factory consists of 20-50 workcells, including several workstations and test stations. The structure based on so many components requires an efficient management system for workcells and the ability to create them remotely so that they are consistent in every location. The answer to these needs is the automation of processes combined with the right optimization.

Digital Cell 1.0.

Before we even started working together, LINAK has already taken the first steps on the path to state-of-the-art production. The company was already using PTC technologies (ThingWorx, PLM, Kepware), and has implemented POC solution- Digital Cell 1.0. The idea behind it was to support the company’s digitalization, explore the potential of a digital manufacturing process, and IoT solutions to help with future decisions on further possibilities.

When introducing Digital Cell, LINAK wanted to reduce the risk of operational errors and obstacles while making staff training simple and easy. The results of the first implementation were promising. The company decided to find a technological partner that can help with the industrialization of the solution, making the digital workcells scalable and applicable in every location, without the need to build them from scratch in each factory.

 

 

Industrialization the iot solution

Challenges & needs

  • The ability to use the app in several factories
  • Optimization of production processes in terms of quality and costs
  • Centralized and global monitoring of statistics and KPIs
  • Access to data in real-time
  • Improving the security of the app

 

“Industrialization is a complex, long-lasting process, especially when we are talking about multiple locations. In TT PSC we have many years of experience and solid know-how based on previous projects in this field so we always recommend our partners to divide it into stages. Scaling up should be preceded by the successful implementation, followed by testing and evaluation.”

– Magdalena Kuchta-Wesoły, Customer Success Manager

Solutions

A cooperative approach to the problem

We knew from the beginning that the best approach to this project is close cooperation, so we have started with the discovery workshop focused on the Digital Cell 1.0 audit and initial situation assessment. It allowed us to gather all business and functional requirements for the next version of the application. As a result, we have created a holistic road map for Phase 1, based on LINAK’s implementation priorities recommended by the technical department. The plan included an upgraded specification for the app that will guarantee its scalability and functionality. We have divided it into stages. The final scope of work for the first phase consisted of 6 milestones:

 

  • Creation of Architecture – TWX (scalability)
  • Creation of Data Model Application – TWX (scalability, performance)
  • Optimizing the Digital Cell application – TWX (performance)
  • Connectivity -TWX, Kepware (performance)
  • Creation of Application Layers – TWX (performance)
  • Creating a Security Model – TWX (security)

 

“It’s good to have a trusted technological partner that guides us throughout the way, offers support, recommends the right scope, and sets priorities.”

-Martin Vejling Andersen, Linak Senior Manager of Logistics & Production Development

 

With the solid foundation, after the workshop and preparatory work, we were ready for the project’s kick-off.

 

Agile implementation

The implementation lasted five weeks and was based on the agile methodology – Scrum. Before we started our work, we have created the Jira project and split the six milestones into smaller tasks to improve development, facilitate work progress tracking and sprints organization.

Phase 1 resulted in successful implementation in one factory and adding an extra feature (Excel extension). Additionally, we held a custom ThingWorx workshop for LINAK’s developers to make further adjustments easier and quicker for them. Since then, they can independently perform key tasks related to the support and maintenance of the application.

 IoT solution - Digital cell

The result: Digital Cell 2.0

Together, we were able to implement recommended solutions in five weeks, followed by ten days of testing and bug-fixing. What’s even more important is that we have established solid foundations for the further development of our cooperation.

THE OUTCOMEBUSINESS VALUE
Software scalability, achieved by designing and implementing suitable IT architectureThe app is usable in many locations, which leads to a reduction of resources, development costs and time globally
Improved security by roles assigning in the application (developer, admin, user)The implementation of roles in the application translates into a reduced risk of unauthorized operations
Digital Cell app optimization in terms of performance (improved exchange between the app and database) through code refactoringFaster and improved access to information leading to the reduced risk of operational errors
Multi-layered app structure for easy maintenanceEasy and flexible app maintenance (e.g., changing the database type does not affect the app functioning)
Better navigation and intuitiveness thanks to the advanced and improved user interfaceImproved instructions for new employees, lower costs of training
Global monitoring and reporting through remote access to the workcells in individual factoriesBetter decision-making process for production optimization purposes, based on reliable data

Summary and plans for the future

We concluded the first stage with the outcome evaluation and a remote session on recommendations for the scope of Phase 2.  Further plans include extending implemented solutions to other factories, PLM and Windchill integration, and even more workshops for knowledge exchange.

Trade Electronics and High-Tech
Used products / services: Digital Cell, Industrialization
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