_How ESAB CZ’s factory in Vamberk reduced the data collection time by 80% using IIoT solutions

Industry
Technology

About ESAB

ESAB Ltd., founded in 1904, is a world leader in welding, cutting equipment, and consumables, with more than 40 brands. In 2021, the company’s revenue was $2.42 billion. Today, it employs more than 9,000 people in 147 countries and established 28 manufacturing facilities worldwide.

The biggest of them is located in the Czech Republic – ESAB CZ s.r.o. with a factory in the town of Vamberk, where multiple and different types of Welding Wires (WW) and fluxes are produced, which is also its principal product. It’s characterized by the highest quality and class of parameters on the market; a harmonized and standardized product, which contributes to excellent customer performance and productivity, especially in robotic applications. A variety of products, from mild steels through low alloyed steels, stainless steels and aluminum wires, provide solutions for a wide range of applications on the customer side, from low-temperature environments, industrial constructions, and pipe welding to high-pressure vessels welding and nuclear applications.

Figure 1:
ESAB CZ – MAG production

Background, business challenges and needs

Welding Wire is produced from raw material – several tons of steel or metal alloy coils, which are then pulled through a set of dies (decreasing its diameter and increasing its length) and, eventually, packaged for end customers. Due to the complexity of production and long process times, there have been occasional downtimes of the production line, causing unnecessary losses of time and money.

Figure 2:
Robotic Spooling Machines

Prior to the project implementation, all the reports were done manually using various systems and machines. A dedicated person collected and put all the data into the appropriate spreadsheet. All information was stored on employees’ personal disks with difficult and secure accessibility to the data for other employees. These tasks not only consumed a lot of time but also carried a high risk of human error.

ESAB’s cooperation with TT PSC was one of the steps in the process of digitizing Welding Wire production factory in Vamberk. The main goal was to collect data and monitor manufacturing efficiency.

The project also aimed to:

 

The main challenge that ESAB CZ s.r.o. wanted to address was the ability to predict unplanned downtime of the production line. This was due to the lack of access to real-time data in the form of legible reports or production line states.

In the course of the project, it turned out that the IoT solution would solve not only this problem, but also a few others, such as:

Solution

With solid expertise in the field, TT PSC, in close collaboration with the customer, identified and analyzed key business pain points and helped to define functional requirements. Considering both the business and technical perspectives and as a continuation of the previous project, ESAB CZ s.r.o. decided to extend the existing functionality. Together with TT PSC, they determined that ThingWorx, coupled with Kepware, was the best software to address the project’s needs.

The final solution consists of several interconnected layers. The first one, industrial connectivity, was handled by Kepware to play an intermediate role between the shop floor (PLCs) and the IT layer. The second one included all relevant business processes’ modeling, processing and storage of the necessary data for further use and analysis. The last one, visualization and reporting provided all the appropriate info to the end users on a role-based manner.

Figure 3:
Robotic line production dashboard

 

 

 

Figure 4:
Wire drawing lines production dashboard

Business impact (Results)

The solution implemented by TT PSC at the Czech’s ESAB factory allowed the company to save time of people working on the production line. This was possible thanks to the automated real-time collection of data on the production process (compared to manual Excel completion) and the accessible display of reports and indicators on screens on the production floor. The system also helps with visualizing key process parameters in one place for the operator, so the operator can do a more efficient job controlling multiple production lines simultaneously. Also, predicting when production cycles finish helps them to organize changeovers better.

Figure 5:
Robotic line production reports

Data for reports is collected automatically, which saves time and minimizes the occurrence of human errors or inaccuracies. This does not directly increase production indicators, but it improves the flow of information, while reliable reports facilitate quick and accurate decisions.

The project’s implementation has reduced data collection time by approximately 80%. Reduced significantly human errors and data being available to everyone in the facility contribute to faster detection of potential threats or failures resulting in unplanned downtimes and quality failures on the production line.

A large benefit from the project, often neglected since it is not as tangible as the quantifiable benefits obtained from the implemented solution, is the experience and knowledge gained as an outcome. Customers can now make amendments and even implement their designs in ThingWorx. This, of course, would not have been possible without close collaboration between the teams of ESAB CZ s.r.o. and TT PSC.

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