With its campus networks, Deutsche Telekom offers an infrastructure for the smart factory of tomorrow. Together with partners from industry, Europe’s largest telecommunications company wants to further expand its 5G ecosystem for industry. In process automation, Deutsche Telekom is now cooperating with Endress + Hauser.
The aim of the cooperation is to develop joint offers in the field of measurement and automation technology for the process industry. This involves the integration of measuring instruments and accessories into the next generation of mobile communication networks as well as digital services based on them. Both companies have signed a corresponding memorandum of understanding and are now working on a coordinated timetable.
Measuring instruments with mobile communication module
Endress + Hauser is one of the first manufacturers to equip its field devices with mobile communication modules and to connect existing installations to 5G networks via newly developed Hart gateways. This enables a large number of instruments to transmit a wealth of process and device data in parallel and in real time. These can, for example, be used in cloud applications for predictive maintenance of process plants.
Campus networks open second signal path
“In addition to the actual measured values, our instruments record a wealth of information from the process and about the sensor. 5G campus networks open up a second signal path that is independent of the plant’s control system and thus make it possible to tap this potential. This will enable us to link value chains more closely across company boundaries and make industrial processes more efficient.”
Matthias Altendorf, CEO of Endress + Hauser
Strong partners for smart production
“Building a complete 5G ecosystem for industry will accelerate the pace of digitalization in industry,” explains Claudia Nemat, member of the Deutsche Telekom Board of Management, Technology and Innovation. “We look forward to working with renowned and experienced partners.” In addition to the partnership with network supplier Ericsson, the telecommunications company now also cooperates with E&K Automation, a manufacturer of driverless transport systems, and Konica Minolta, which offers augmented reality glasses, among other products.
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Filling and Capping machine
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In just a few seconds directly at the machine
Service support using Argos
With 2,700 technicians at more than 100 international facilities, Krones is well equipped worldwide to provide fast assistance to beverage producers in terms of maintenance and spare-part replacement or in the event of a complete line standstill. But the coronavirus pandemic has proved a stumbling block for this service set-up: flight cancellations, quarantine regulations or even entry bans are rendering it almost impossible to maintain rapid-response service support when it’s necessary. And this in a time when above all the demand for packaged water, but also for healthy beverages is rising perceptibly – and supplies to consumers still have to be assured.
In order to provide its clients with direct assistance, Krones offers a choice of support packages. To complement the existing round-the-clock support via telephone and remote service, Krones has since the end of 2018 already been offering the Argos Augmented Reality Support – and this is in such exceptional times more in demand than ever before. The ingenious bit about it is this: thanks to what are called smart glasses, the operator at the machine receives immediate assistance from a Krones support specialist – without the latter having to do any travelling.
Realtime support using smart glasses
The biggest advantage here is that if a problem occurs during ongoing production, the service specialist from Krones is thanks to Argos directly on site immediately. Using live video and audio transmission, the Krones expert is in the midst of the line within just a few seconds, enabling him to instruct the operator and to support him directly and unerringly in terms of trouble-shooting or performing urgently needed work, thus bringing production back on line as quickly as possible. If a supporter detects a critical situation, he can visually alert the wearer of the smart glasses.
The Argos basic package includes not only the smart glasses, but also all associated licences. On request, these can be extended to enable the system to be utilised by the beverage producer himself with other vendors of his own. What’s more, an option has recently been introduced for using not only the smart glasses provided by Krones, but also self-chosen models or even certain mobile phones and tablets. This enables the service support to be integrated even more effectively into the plant’s existing infrastructure.
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Bilfinger to become a DFKI shareholder
Bilfinger, through its subsidiary Bilfinger Digital Next, is joining the group of shareholders of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). The DFKI is an industry-focused research institute in the field of innovative software technologies incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and is considered one of the most important “Centers of Excellence” in the international scientific community. The purpose of the stake is to develop innovative solutions based on AI for the process industry. Bilfinger is the first industrial services provider in the DFKI shareholder group, which also includes companies like Google, Microsoft and SAP. Franz Braun, CEO of Bilfinger Digital Next: “Artificial intelligence technologies give companies in the process industry groundbreaking new opportunities to manage and maintain their plants with a greater degree of efficiency and effectiveness. Plant operators can generate substantial competitive advantages using AI. We want to demonstrate these possibilities to our customers and support them with future-oriented solutions based on the broad range of advantages delivered by artificial intelligence”.
Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger, CEO and Chairman of the DFKI Management Board: “We are pleased to be taking the next step towards a lasting partnership on the basis of the success we have enjoyed in our joint project work to date. Bilfinger’s commitment attests to our cooperation and underscores the industrial relevance of the work DFKI researchers are doing. DFKI’s circle of shareholders will be strengthened by the addition of an ambitious industrial services provider, with whom we plan to continue implementing the results of AI research into products and solutions for the process industry”.
Bilfinger has been collaborating successfully with the DFKI for some time on the development of digital solutions for the process industry. Joint developments that have been launched on the market include PIDGraph, a software for the digitalization of plant documentation. Through the application of AI methods, the software is able to digitalize piping and instrument flow diagrams (P&I diagrams) that are only available in paper or PDF formats. The symbols, texts and lines of the diagrams are converted into a digital format with the help of neural networks trained to recognize patterns. The software records the corrections made by the user and thus continuously improves itself. The digital formats created by PIDGraph can be processed by any modern engineering and asset management system, thereby forming the basis for creating “digital twins” of industrial plants, for example. The digitalization of P&I diagrams is not only significantly cheaper with PIDGraph, but also much faster than conventional methods.
“The AI algorithms recognize the complex elements in the plant diagrams, analyze them, assign them semantically, making them readable for the computer. PIDGraph shows how mature AI methods can comprehend complex corporate knowledge and make it available for digital use,” says Prof. Dr. Andreas Dengel, who started the cooperation with Bilfinger and leads the research area Smart Data & Knowledge Services at the DFKI.