An IoT app store for the industry with easy store floor integration

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IoT Use Case Podcast Folge 69 mit ADAMOS SCHUNK und Cybus

What are the advantages of an app store? It provides an overview of applications and technologies. In the blink of an eye, we can download apps we like and use them instantly. An IoT app store for the industry? This is no longer pie in the sky, as podcast episode number 69 of our IoT Use Case Podcast with ADAMOS, Cybus and SCHUNK proves.

Episode 69 at a glance (and click):

[08:32] Challenges, potentials and status quo – This is what the use case looks like in practice

[20:36] Solutions, offerings and services – A look at the technologies used

[31:58] Results, Business Models and Best Practices – How Success is Measured

[33:22] Transferability, scaling and next steps – Here’s how you can use this use case

Podcast episode summary

Apps simplify a wide range of things in our everyday lives. They are simple, quick on the smartphone and have become an irreplaceable part of life for some. Now imagine an app store for industry, for everything related to the shopfloor.

ADAMOS GmbH offers just such an open industry marketplace for software-as-a-service products and applications. Representing them, in today’s episode we have Marco Link, Managing Director of ADAMOS, as our guest.

Peter Sorowka, app provider of ADAMOS, CEO and founder of Cybus, strives to troubleshoot and prevent outages using live monitoring, digitization processes, and a wide variety of procedures. We will also find out today how he manages to roll out pilot projects in a scalable way.

SCHUNK, a global competence leader for clamping technology and gripping systems, will also play a predominant role as a user in today’s episode. With Steffen Gotzmann, the main person responsible for production we dive deeper into customer processing. Retrieving stations of ongoing orders, challenges of connectivity and the use of industrial solutions will be discussed in particular.

SCHUNK uses the IoT marketplace to bring together the data from various machines and systems in its own factory centrally, thus ensuring smooth data exchange between the various apps.

Podcast interview

Peter and Marco, how did you get together with ADAMOS?
Peter
ADAMOS and Cybus – we have been in the Industry 4.0 or Industrial IoT market for many years, trying to enable networks on different sides of the same table. Establish networks, on the one hand technically, but also between companies. Cybus and ADAMOS realized quite a while ago that a close collaboration makes a lot of sense and dared to close ranks; in the meantime, we work very much in partnership.

 

Steffen, you have been with SCHUNK for five years. You started out as a project engineer in the area of digitization and automation of your own manufacturing operations, and now you have primary responsibility for production and you keep it running.

About SCHUNK, many know you in the market. You are a family business in the field of modern manufacturing equipment and robotic systems. You have a huge portfolio of gripping systems, clamping technology … from … to … and with your consistent digitization strategy you have made it possible to plan efficiently and transparently economically with your customers and also to develop this together. Do you have any other facts about SCHUNK that you would like to add?
Steffen
That was a very rough outline about the SCHUNK company. I think we are on the move in very many areas. I myself am here at the headquarters in Lauffen am Neckar, where the whole thing started back then. We now have several manufacturing locations around the world where we make our products for the customer. At the local site we mainly produce products for clamping technology, tool holder systems and chuck jaws.

 

You have a wide variety of plants – nine in number – and are generally quite broadly positioned, also globally.
Steffen
Exactly. The plant in Brackenheim-Hausen is only a short distance from here and is the largest production site we have here, where we have all the gripping systems. We have a manufacturing site in the USA, among other places. You mentioned the new ones; I don’t think I need to go into each one. However, it shows that we as a company SCHUNK – both in terms of our products and our manufacturing – are wide and broadly positioned.

 

Marco, you are the Managing Director of ADAMOS GmbH. You are the first provider of an open industry marketplace for digital products; apps, you might say. Using your store, people can purchase software-as-a-service products or the applications of different partners from you. And it’s all about apps concerning the shopfloor that can be purchased, used and also managed. I’m looking forward to learning more from the field there from you.
Marco
About me, I am the managing director of ADAMOS GmbH. We are organized as a joint venture and have now launched the first app store for the industry. What is special about us is that our App Store contains products that are also integrated in advance in such a way that they can be used very easily by the customer.

 

Peter, you are involved as a partner of ADAMOS, also as an app provider you could say. You are the CEO and founder of Cybus, and you specialize in connectivity and architectures for smart factories. Your core offering emanates from the industrial IoT edge platform; the Cybus Connectware is used to enable the smart factory. You have different use cases, are very broad in terms of data collection, data modeling and also the integration of this data – and now you can also be found in the ADAMOS App Store.

We all know the applications on the smartphone. This works similarly in industry, except that we work with live data from the field. Marco, what are the potentials of IoT applications or IoT apps for the industry?
Marco
What we are seeing is that there are more and more applications on the market that are also going to the cloud, i.e. are being offered as software-as-a-service products. The second trend we are noticing is that products are becoming more modular and are coming to market with an increasingly clear value proposition. In other words, topics such as shift schedules, production schedules, calculation of OEE ratios, or even the topic of service and maintenance. In these areas, there are more and more products that are very specialized for a particular application.

The whole thing ultimately leads to the fact that it is very nice for the potential users, because of a broad portfolio, more and more products are perceived there, but there’s definitely a big challenge that these products also interact. We are in the industry here, which means that the complexity is many times higher than in the B2C sector. The potentials we see here are that even small and medium-sized companies can try out products very quickly and use them for their challenges. If in doubt, they can quickly replace these products again if they do not work so well.

We see great potential here, especially for the topic of profitability of manufacturing companies, because here, too, the pressure to increase margins, effectiveness and efficiency per employee is ever greater. We all know, I think, the reasons why that is.

Challenges, potentials and status quo - This is what the use case looks like in practice [08:32]

We always talk about concrete use cases from practice here. What use cases did you bring and what project are we discussing in detail?
Marco
In our marketplace, we have integrated various use cases; also OEE. Today we’re going to talk about WERKBLiQ, which is also one of the applications that is connected to our ADAMOS HUB – networking technology – in such a way that it can be used very easily. Also about the Cybus topic, which helps us to serve the customer especially also with the issue of connectivity and security on the shopfloor. If you bring these things together, we are at our case, which we have brought with us today: With Steffen from the SCHUNK company, who are using this combination, so to speak – Cybus, ADAMOS and WERKBLiQ.

 

To understand this combination in practice: Steffen, what does a typical day look like for you? – To see how you guys handle customer orders.
Steffen
We have continued to grow at the SCHUNK company. We have a very high vertical range of manufacture at many locations. This means that we have integrated a large number of technologies and, as a result of this growth and the vertical range of manufacture, have a very heterogeneous machine pool in terms of age and manufacturers. We are very broad in terms of what we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. That’s where we have to try to get the structure in. We have a leading ERP system there, a leading MES system where we manage the orders. In the end, it’s about creating transparency by digitizing manufacturing. How are the plants running? Where are the orders right now? These are challenges that we will increasingly face in the future.

 

When you talk about digitalization and transparency of your plants, you probably also have a strategic approach to leveraging potential and optimizing processes. What are some potentials that you have seen in the processes?
Steffen
If I stay specifically in the area of digitization, we have been working with Cybus for several years now. It’s a brownfield. We have a lot of different connectivity requirements. With Cybus, we have brought a lot of expertise into the company in order to be able to remove some of the complexity for us and to be able to implement the basic requirements of connectivity in the first place. We have built on this, in part small, in part larger use cases. If it was just a matter of having a packing station show us what the right material is for packing, which box, which instruction manual still has to go in? We then handled such things digitally via Cybus. Or even on a larger scale to say, I want to network all my machines somewhere and collect data of the machine. There we have the different requirements of the manufacturers, the interfaces, the control types that are in use with us. One of the first major approaches was to bring transparency into the process by capturing this machine data and seeing how well our plants are actually running.

 

You said you guys are already working with Cybus. Is that then also the WERKBLiQ application that Marco just mentioned that you are already using?
Steffen
WERKBLiQ has been an isolated solution for us until now. We have not yet connected the worlds of Cybus and WERKBLiQ. We have now managed to do that together within the framework of this project. WERKBLiQ was a solution for us to manage our maintenance, to manage our orders, to be able to coordinate the orders for the individual maintenance. But was in the first step completely detached from the machine data acquisition, which was there for transparency first. We have now been able to bring these two worlds together very nicely and very quickly above all.

 

Peter, we are now talking about a wide variety of data types and kinds. It’s about material from instruction manuals to maintenance use cases. What is data that you already provide through your solutions on the part of Cybus?
Peter
My favorite anecdote is – i pigeonholing Schunk – from a few years ago … in the meantime we’ve been on the road for a while. I go to the customer, and the customer says: Can you network my factory? Then I say: Yeah sure, what data do you need? Then the customer says: All of them! I ask: Why? And he: That’s what I’m trying to find out. So we are still in the digitalization process. Especially when we have such a large plant with about two hundred machine tools of different generations, different manufacturers. We first have to deal with the question: What is actually the killer digitization project? What adds the most value is not at all easy to answer.

That’s why we start SIMPLE first. What we did at SCHUNK was a very systematic approach. A few years ago – in 2018 or 2019 – we said we want to know now, first of all, from all machines whether they are currently running or not; whether they are currently malfunctioning, very banal. That’s not particularly deep data yet, but if I have that from all the machines, then I can start to actually scale projects on that. I can get a live overview; I can notify my maintenance when there is a malfunction somewhere. This leads to faster troubleshooting. I can start recording historical data or collecting certain statistics. Whether I call them OEE yet or not … I can identify specific problem hotspots, I can start feeding my MES system.

In principle, I have a data inventory, which is relatively narrow, but it is comprehensively related to all areas of production. We proceed systematically. Use cases can be very small, as Steffen has already said, digitizing a packaging station; or a use case can be very large, digitizing the entire maintenance management. We look at what do we have in the data inventory, process data, live data? Do they fulfill the use case or is the spindle speed, job number or CNC file still missing, whatever? Then you can successively increase this data inventory in a use-case-driven manner.

If you proceed in this way, you achieve a basic structure that is reusable. I always try to depict it like this: We are basically building the highway through the plant. All kinds of data run on this highway, and we take care of it in a modular way, successively building the on-ramps and the off-ramps. Because all the machine status data needed for such a WERKBLiQ integration in this case was already there on the highway, all that was needed was a WERKBLiQ off-ramp and we could create the appropriate routing. This is the systematic approach that sets us up to be extremely flexible from a simple live dashboard to a software-as-a-service integration in the cloud. This accelerates the projects at SCHUNK.

 

Now you said that the bottom line is to first lay this foundation and then build everything else on top of it. Steffen, I would like to know, how is it actually today? I mean, if you’re going to incorporate a new software solution now, those are probably insanely complex processes. I have integration, which is necessary. I have to do a wide variety of things. That’s a lot of work, isn’t it?
Steffen
That is indeed the case. Especially for us in the midmarket, you have to look at where you put your capacity. There are a lot of software solutions on the market, and for me as a user it is always important to have to evaluate at the beginning, what added value do I get from it, but which I may not be able to quantify today? Not monetarily, but in the improvements it actually brings me. I always have to put an immense amount of effort into actually making this project happen.

This connectivity solution that we have brought in-house with Cybus Connectware means that I no longer have to take this always necessary step in every upcoming project. That means I have data there and I can use it from the same data source in multiple applications without having to rebuild the interface again. I make the cut through once towards the shopfloor and then have my interfaces into the higher level systems. This makes it easy for me to pass on data that I already have to the higher-level systems.

Today, I ask the software manufacturer how he would like his data, and then he gets it in the form in which he needs it, because we are so flexibly positioned through this Connectware – both in the direction of the shopfloor, but also in the direction of systems from external providers.

 

When we talk about data, it’s things like spindle speed, but also maybe maintenance data, status of machines and so on that you need there, right?
Steffen
Exactly, at the first moment it is of course the running time of the machine. We only earn money when the machine is actually running. And then there is additional information, such as spindle speeds, piece counts, and in the future, quality data, which then gives us added value in other areas. A spindle running time is interesting for a maintenance engineer in retrospect, when it comes to how long the spindle will last in order to be able to avoid unplanned downtimes. This always depends on the quality of the interface of the machine, and also on the conditions that are there today. This is the information that ends up making us money, or saving us money – depending on which angle you want to look at it from.

 

Now, looking at such a system as the highway analogy from above, what are the requirements here that were important to you in making this? What were the requirements or even demands at the beginning of the project?
Steffen
The approach has a lot to do with data sovereignty. We are the master of our data; we have the interfaces under control – both in the store floor and in the direction of the vendors’ solutions. Data security is certainly a big term in this area. The nice thing is that we don’t have to make so many demands on a project like this. The only requirement I say is: don’t do customizing. Rather, I want standardized solutions from you, because those work best, and I can adjust so that in the end you get the data the way you need it.

This creation of standards is an important point, exactly.

Solutions, offerings and services - A look at the technologies used [20:36]

Let’s dig a little deeper into the App Store functionalities. Marco, I now have access to such an app store as SCHUNK, probably also a dashboard with various apps. But first I have to get the machine data. We learned this works via Cybus – but how does the data get into your store in the first place?
Marco
What’s special about our store – some also call it storefront, where I can see what apps or SaaS products are available – is that every product that is visible in our app store is pre-integrated up front. We have – architecturally speaking – a networking technology underneath our marketplace that is available with semantic standards. The various application providers can integrate into this technology. This leads to the fact that users like Steffen or other manufacturing companies first get a transparency. In the App Store, they can see which products are available in which categories, for example, planning, production, maintenance, purchasing and so on. We have a broad portfolio, which is also constantly growing. That’s one point, just to see where can I find the product for the challenge I have right now.

In the second step, I would then like to try out this product or get to know it better. This is where the step comes in that for most industrial applications, I can’t do the trial and error at all because I have to do the integration first. The fact that we have pre-integrated these products means that we can bring about this demo phase very quickly for some products, so that the customer can also quickly assess whether there is added value here.

It works like this: Cybus is also an application that can be obtained from our store, but not an application that is directly visible to the end customer or user on the shopfloor. But Cybus is the enabler that makes this data available. We built an integration together so that Cybus can feed the data into the ADAMOS HUB and then the products can be used very easily and quickly.

 

So I can build on an existing data standard – the products are pre-integrated – and then quickly try out whether my problem might have already been solved. Steffen, can you give a few examples of which machines you have connected and with which application?
Steffen
We have made the connection via the Cybus Connectware with us, with their site. We managed to integrate this data from our Connectware instance into WERKBLiQ or into the ADAMOS HUB within two weeks.

You asked me about the process for a digitization project. We’re usually talking about weeks and months, which we’ve now been able to do in a very short time. We have now integrated the first pilot machines to see what possibilities I have. Because these advantages that Marco mentioned, that I as a user can simply try it out and realize, okay, this application doesn’t bring us the added value we were hoping for, then I’ll just let it go again. I don’t expect that from WERKBLiQ because we had that in place before. The beauty is simply that this structure gives us significant speed and flexibility.

 

Marco, you have a wide variety of apps there. That is, once I do that, can I just add any apps to it?
Marco
Right, that’s the idea. WERKBLiQ is deeply integrated into the ADAMOS HUB, so to speak. Many other applications as well. Some start from the vendor side with a somewhat smaller integration; but if we gradually manage to get the vendors into this deep integration, Steffen will also be able in the coming days and weeks to use on the App Store, for example, the application “Monitoring of the shopfloor” or a production planning, which also accesses the live data, at the push of a button. The supplier does not have to integrate individually for SCHUNK, but the supplier always integrates in ADAMOS – and the user or the producing company also integrates in ADAMOS. Thus, there is no individual project, but a standardized product, which can be used quickly.

 

A small call at the point. A lot of potential partners are listening right now, maybe end customers who either want to place an app with you in the store as well as obtain an app. I would include your contact information again in the show notes.
Marco
Absolutely. Also to say a few sentences about the store; we have the two sides here. That is, vendors can also use our store to do pre-integration and thereby get a more scalable sales channel or distribution channel. The hurdle to using these products naturally becomes easier as a result, and so does acceptance by the buyer. adamos-store.com is the URL where you can check it out.

On the other hand, the topic is of course that manufacturing companies are also quite cordially invited. Because what we are now getting and seeing as feedback is that the companies – especially the smaller and medium-sized companies – want to deal with digitization. They want to become more efficient and more profitable. But they often don’t know where to begin. But we can now make it very, very easy via this store approach. We also say “B2B like B2C!”. That means we want to make it as easy for the customer as they know it from their private smartphone or smartphone context. In some places – I admit – it’s not yet that simple. But in many places it is possible to use applications with your own data at the push of a button.

 

That’s how it’s supposed to be, learning a bit from the B2C world. Peter, we are talking about up to a thousand machines in some cases. What happens if I want to connect more and more machines, how does the expandability work?
Peter
Great question; I’ll try to get another perspective first. In the role of Steffen Gotzmann, production manager at SCHUNK. He had a challenge when dealing with digitization, to marry up an existing production landscape including an existing IT landscape, so an MES, production control system or maybe a SCADA system, with this new world. This new world can mean I build my own cloud. It may mean I start using an IoT platform or I try new software-as-a-service offerings, like WERKBLiQ. That’s a pretty complex structure in which you have to locate yourself somewhere.

If I now want to network a machine with WERKBLiQ, then I would ask WERKBLiQ, don’t you have a gateway? Then the gateway might be a little box, a little Raspberry Pi with an open source product on it, and then I’ll build that, it’s totally easy. Nowadays, networking a machine with an application is one thing I can give to a working student for the afternoon.

The big question is, what happens if I don’t just have a one-to-one connection, one machine with an application? But now two-hundred-to-one, or even two-hundred-to-n, some of which are running in the cloud, some of which is with me, some of which is not mine at all, because it’s suddenly data that’s going to a supplier or customer of mine. The larger this scaling becomes, the more the issue of data routing, becomes an infrastructure issue, and a company like SCHUNK solves infrastructure issues via shared service offerings. That is, something like that moves in the direction of IT. IT has requirements for scalability, automation, security and so on. This is exactly our target group.

At Cybus, we try to address exactly these medium to very large companies. We are also working for large automotive companies, where we are talking about up to five thousand machines, where issues such as high availability are suddenly added. The data stream must not be interrupted at any price. Redundancy, extremely high data loads – from my point of view, it’s a question of designing the highway correctly. The gateway is more of a trail for me. That’s okay for the first walking attempts and for the first pilot projects. But building a mature infrastructure that can carry the load accordingly is exactly Cybus’ product promise, and we’re focused on just that.

 

At the beginning, we asked ourselves the question, why do I need an app store? I think that has become clear. We discussed vendor-level integration, access management, and compatibility with the individual heterogeneous machine fleet. With all these programs I save time, of course, and in the end I have the possibility to set up clients of SCHUNK – or of course other end customers – and the ADAMOS HUB provides this pre-integration and I can then quickly obtain these applications and also make them available to others.

Results, Business Models and Best Practices - How Success is Measured [31:58]

Steffen, what is the business case for you in summary? What is the result for you? 
Steffen 
The business case there, and certainly in similar projects that may run in the future, is based on a very sustainable infrastructure that we have already built up in terms of connectivity and data processing. The business case behind this is that the effort required for such projects is now significantly lower than if I had to do a complete integration across my entire IT and production landscape. 

For the specific use case here with WERKBLiQ, I simply hope for even more information for maintenance based on machine data. Not just on statements from team leaders, foremen or production employees. But rather to really obtain  data-based information about the machine, to reduce downtimes, to avoid downtimes as far as possible, in order to simply keep the planning reliability for us in production as high as possible. 

Transferability, Scaling, and Next Steps - Here's how you can use this use case. [33:22]

Marco, you have many different applications and use cases. What other ones do you have there and how does that work for customers who might also have a different use case?
Marco
We have a variety of use cases that are conceivable. We currently have over thirty application integrated into the store. What we do is contact the manufacturing companies that register on our adamos-store.com. To those, we offer a personal consultation where we do a needs assessment and take people by the hand on the steps of how to transition those products into use. Here we provide very close and personal support.

That’s not just the digital channel. But there you are called by a consultant, who carries out this consultation free of charge and then goes on the journey with the customer, like SCHUNK and also others, to carry out the product together. These levers, added values and speed speak for themselves. I invite everyone to engage with us.

Thank you for the closing statement. It is fascinating what has happened in the last few years and will probably continue to develop over the next few years. I believe we will see more and more of these standardized applications in the industry, which will then also converge in the ADAMOS HUB. Thanks for the project introduction, it was my pleasure!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Ing. Madeleine Mickeleit

Host & General Manager
IoT Use Case Podcast