Digitization +Industry 4.0 = PIA 4.0
Claude Eisenmann is Executive Director of Digitization and Software Engineering at PIA Automation Bad Neustadt - and that makes him PIA's digitization expert. Among other things, his task is to bring all branches together on the topic of digitization and to pursue a common goal: to develop and offer high-quality Industry 4.0 solutions for our customers.
What is PIA's strategy for digitization?
Internationally, our assembly lines are built on the basis of defined quality standards and engineering processes. In order to continue supporting our customers’ competitiveness, our international project teams are structured in such a way that the respective PIA branches’ technical expertise can be maximally utilized. The success of this process model has various consequences for our technical strategy and digital transformation. Essentially it is about integrating complete systems on the level of operational technology (assembly systems, machine visions, robotics etc.) and the IT level (ERP, IIoT, analytics tools etc.). To build machines of such high quality, the internal engineering processes are continuously adjusted and digitized in stages using new tools and interfaces.
Our digitization strategy thus focuses on two topics: the modular architecture of our IAS (Integrated Assembly Solutions) and steering our handling process towards Engineering 4.0 or Smart Engineering with lean approaches.
How do you see the dynamics of digital transformation?
For mechanical engineering companies themselves, new business areas and business models will emerge in the long term. Although the range of tools, instruments, platforms, software etc. is very diverse, we are still in the adoption phase. PIA’s dual structure allows us to proceed with our stable, efficient and successful operational business if we simultaneously implement certain activities in terms of technical innovation in an agile environment. What that means is that the digital transformation is more than a milestone – it is part of our sales strategy. The same approach can be envisioned for the market. Based on a specific application, for example the cycle time analysis for a specific assembly line, a “Proof of Concept” is developed together with our partners and then interim results are briefly presented in phases (agile approach) and accordingly new features are further developed until optimum results are achieved and targets met. Individual companies would be well advised to establish a solid change management process. This would make the speed of the adaptation of tools and processes easier to control and measure.
Claude Eisenmann (PIA Automation Bad Neustadt):
"We offer premium Industry 4.0 solutions to support our customers".
Will there be a PIA cloud sooner or later?
As a system integrator, we offer various interfaces based on communication standards to access the production data of the assembly line. We already talk extensively with our customers about Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) topics such as cycle time analysis, asset management, predictive maintenance, line control and internationally networked assembly lines. PIA has its own IIoT gateway called PIA Factory Agent which is already being used. This software manages production data at the edge (using the customer’s Intranet and server landscape) and supplied data packages to legacy systems or other IIoT platforms. PIA will concentrate on the development and extension of intelligent applications (so-called Smart Apps) and offer them to customers on various integrated local or cloud-based IIoT platforms.
Are there already concrete industry 4.0 solutions from PIA?
We can draw on decades of experience with automation and the limitations of existing solutions from the Industry 3.0 era. New possibilities have allowed PIA to develop dedicated products: piaDynamics is a measurement computer system for production systems with a high level of automation. Its combination of intuitive software and flexible hardware sets it apart. piaOptimum is an application that identifies bottlenecks in complex, interlinked assembly plants, and allows for the rapid and sustainable optimisation of production efficiency thanks to the data transparency. The performance of both individual units and sections of the production line, or the entire plant, can be assessed.
With these tools, we can offer our customers premium Industry 4.0 solutions to support their production, maintenance and quality officers as well as specialists.