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Tool dispensing from the IoT cloud

IoT Use Case CERATIZIT, Materna
5 minutes Reading time
5 minutes Reading time

For more than 100 years CERATIZIT has been developing and manufacturing sophisticated precision tools for a wide range of industries. Together with universities and research institutes throughout Europe, more than 200 employees in development facilities worldwide develop innovative materials and solutions. CERATIZIT is a reliable partner from innovative, fast procurement to regrinding and recycling.

Founded in 1980, the MATERNA Group is an internationally successful IT service provider that supports its customers in all aspects of digitalization and delivers customized technologies for agile, flexible and secure IT. 3,200 employees at 35 locations advise and support companies and public authorities in all aspects of digitization, from consulting to implementation and operation.

The challenge: Carbide drills from an intelligent beverage vending machine

In the central warehouse of CERATIZIT in Kempten more than 60,000 articles are stored, which can be provided to the customer with a 99 percent availability on the following day. But even the company’s founder had recognized that as a tool manufacturer, it is not enough to focus only on tool sales: Services around the product are just as important, for example, such as the organization of the associated logistics.  

The Tool-O-Mat concept was developed from this approach. Comparable in functionality to a beverage vending machine, these vending machines can be loaded with up to 840 CERATIZIT products. This makes it possible to have the required tool on site at the right time to be able to use it exactly when wear is reached and the tool is used up. At the same time, the 1,000 vending machines in 22 countries worldwide communicate with the CERATIZIT SAP system in order to administer both sales data and stock management. In many cases, however, this communication still takes place via the outdated and therefore slow and unreliable CSD mobile communications standard. However, anyone who wants to be and remain successful in global economic ecosystems must provide IT services as the basis for digital business processes around the globe. However, this is only possible with powerful cloud infrastructures and modern applications. 

So CERATIZIT turned to its partner Materna, with whom it already has a long-standing cooperation on many projects.span,  

The solution: Cloud-based tool dispensing

True to its motto “We digitize your world”, Materna’s specialists set to work with CERATIZIT to upgrade the automatic tooling machines with state-of-the-art technology, bring them into the cloud and network them. It was important to everyone involved to focus not only on the technology, but also on the business models behind it: When it comes to consulting at and with the customer, personal contact is paramount, but recurring processes such as tool ordering, should also be as simple as possible. Materna’s quality promise is to take care of everything for the customer in terms of tool procurement, dispensing and scheduling, so that the customer only has to worry about withdrawing the tool.

The automatic tooling machines form the front end of a three-part IIoT system whose core is SAP. A central server controls the data flow between dispensers and SAP and enables intermediate buffering of the data if a dispenser is not available at the time. Just as the consumption data from the dispensers flows into the SAP system, SAP also delivers configuration or software updates to the dispensers. The data transmission takes place nightly and requires fast and reliable data transmission paths due to the data volumes involved. Also because GSM has already been switched off in some countries, digital data transmissions via 4G and 5G networks have therefore been set up.

Only this cloud connection made it possible to access registered dispensers remotely via the central administration, so that a team of technicians does not have to be sent out immediately in the event of a malfunction. For example, system reboots can now be performed, making on-site interventions very rare. Another advantage is the easy updating of software configurations and tool catalogs.

A lot of effort and development was put into the user interface. Modern touch displays ensure ease of use, because ultimately it is irrelevant to the user in which compartment a required tool is located – he simply wants to have the tool provided. To operate the dispenser, all that is required is the regular company ID card, which is held up to the RFC reader of the dispenser. For better allocation to individual cost centers, worksheets can be printed with a barcode and read in at the operating unit of the vending machine.

The result: An optimized and shortened supply chain

Materna is not only equipped with a map and compass on the “Journey to the Cloud”, but also knows the route with its pitfalls. This enabled Materna to successfully shorten and optimize the supply chain from manufacturer to end user. Intelligent self-service tool vending machines were set up at the customer’s premises, equipped with connectivity modules and SIM cards, and connected to the cloud. Inventory management with customized analysis function optimizes stocking, order lists and workflows, and, true to Materna’s promise of quality, the customer only has to worry about withdrawing the tools.

Of course, such a system is not limited to the dispensing of tools, the dispensing of personal protection devices would also be conceivable – the “Journey to the cloud” is far from over!

In application

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