Value creation in the production industry today is characterized by capital-intensive production systems which are highly automated. It is in the nature of things that a large quantity of data arises during production. These data are often only used for their original purpose, controlling and regulating the production processes, and are not archived for other uses. “As long as the machines are running, nobody really looks at this data”, says Jürgen Walter, Managing Director of Datatroniq, member of the Industrial Data Space Association since the summer of 2016.
Located in Stuttgart and Berlin, the company is currently working together with Fraunhofer IOSB on the use case “Forward-looking maintenance and process-related quality assurance with IDS”. They have set themselves the task of using data to generate specific instructions. “Our aim is to improve the overall efficiency of systems by analysing and evaluating the data”, explains Walter. Longer service lives for the machines, fewer interruptions and if possible no downtime, will create competitive advantages for the company. And these improvements in system availability are possible if the large quantity of data is not only generated but is made usable.
Jürgen Walter has found that many companies do understand this new way of dealing with data in production processes. But “it is still often difficult to put this into practice.” Sometimes the doubts about whether the promised benefits will really emerge are too great. “This is why many companies are waiting to see what happens next”, says the Managing Director of Datatroniq. Many of the machines which are running right now are not completely set up to operate in a digitalized process chain. “Even new machines which have only been in operation for a year or so, may have been put out to tender up to four years ago and digitalization was seldom part of the specification in those days”, says Walter.
That means retrofitting the machines, for example with sensors, involves making investments. “Investments which will be well worth it in terms of the benefits they create”, Jürgen Walter is sure. Another reason why companies hesitate is that the huge quantities of data that arise must first be collated and systematically evaluated. “Basically the data is just raw data and has to be turned into information, analysed and then transformed into instructions.” Walter explains.
Many companies can’t and don’t want to make the additional effort. This is where external service providers like Datatroniq and the idea of Industrial Data Space come in. “If companies issue large quantities of data they want to be absolutely certain that they are used for specific purposes”, says Walter. Who will get my data? What will they be used for? And for what period of time? And what access rights will they have? All of these questions are answered and regulated by Industrial Data Space. “Setting up and developing an Industrial Data Space is clearly the right step to take”, Walter is convinced. Also where another aspect is concerned: namely when companies collect their data and want to make them accessible to customers in order to improve the performance of their systems and thus to document the quality of their products and the stability of their processes. “That creates a huge competitive advantage”, Walter tells us. “And the Industrial Data Space provides the security we need for this data exchange.