The Electronics Activity of LACROIX is a global technological equipment supplier. The company specialises in the design and production of electronic components and sub-assemblies. It has been bringing customers’ projects to life for over 40 years. LACROIX has begun the Industry 4.0 journey introducing cutting-edge IIoT automation on production lines in factories in France, Germany, Tunisia and Poland.
We have started a project for LACROIX in collaboration with FlexThings in 2018. Cooperation has begun, when the company was in the stage of intensive work on the monitoring of production KPIs. According to its operational excellence strategy, LACROIX decided to implement PTC’s ThingWorx. They need industrial innovation platform to manage its production lines in real time. After a successful Prove of Concept phase company wanted to scale up from few machines to a full Real-Time-Management technology. Not only in the French production site but also in every location, starting with the largest one in Kwidzyn (Poland). The RTM Application is based on PTC’s ThingWorx platform. It was important for the company to find a partner who is an expert in PTC products and technologies. The second requirement was knowledge of the Polish language to communicate effectively and facilitate teamwork in the factory in Poland.
Challenges and Needs
LACROIX was struggling with no real time information from its production lines. That’s why company decided to implement Real-Time-Monitoring based on ThingWorx platform. The main challenge of the project was the scalability and industrialization of the solution. Gathering information from several types of machines was also needed. The company was looking for a way to gain real-time visibility into manufacturing process control and component testing. An important aspect was industrial-level data collection to better identify equipment failures and component defects. Considering multiple locations, LACROIX needed technology that could process data from dozens or even hundreds of machines with minimal latency. The final goal is to capture data from more than 1000 machines.
Solution: Real-Time-Monitoring based on ThingWorx
The overall purpose of app is to help operators and managers simply monitor various KPIs through visual management. It collects all available data from various machines (both production and quality tests), produced by different suppliers. It aggregates and puts it in context, using data from ERP, to get a complete picture of production line efficiency. Also, the application provides a set of widget, thanks to which the data is available when needed and presented in a simplified, convenient form. Consequently, it helps to manage the situation on the production hall and to react quickly to possible incidents.
Real-Time-Management application – main functionalities
- Monitoring current status of production in real-time and exposed it on line specific screen for all operators of each work center
- Delivering warnings about lines downtime and notifications when incorrect operations happen
- Self-management of the factory with a user-friendly administration panel that easier the new lines configuration, machines and shifts.
- Displaying of various KPIs and collect statistics (f.e per shift or production line)
The TT PSC team with FlexThings project management were responsible for the development of the Real-Time-Management application by implementing additional functionalities and preparing the extension of the project to other locations. At the same time, we supported and maintained in all other branches. We also conducted several ThingWorx training courses which improved product knowledge at LACROIX and expanded the development team to include LACROIX in-house developers.
LACROIX’s expectations have been met and the company is satisfied with the results. The team appreciated our solution because it improves the quality of coverage and provides non-regression testing as the solution progresses. Also it provides an area for experts to better understand line problems. Now LACROIX is able to increase product quality and share production data when it is needed.
As a result, decision-making time and the number of manual activities were significantly reduced. RTM has also helped to increase transparency on production lines, making the production process fully digital. This is important as LACROIX is engaged in a sustainable program and digitalization of production process avoids usage of tons of paper. TT PSC’s activities have contributed to LACROIX’s operational excellence strategy. The collaboration has helped the company achieve maximum Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). LACROIX reduced the level of quality defects at the end of the production line to almost zero.
The solution is currently running and fully operational in four locations (France Symbiose, Poland, Germany, Tunisia). Due to the size and longevity of the Real-Time-Management project, we are continuously improving the reliability and sustainability of the system closely with LACROIX experts. TT PSC is helping Lacroix to continue its digitization process, becoming a trusted partner contributing to the company’s development.