Avoid downtimes in shredding machines

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5 minutes Reading time
5 minutes Reading time

The machine builder UNTHA from Kuchl in Austria manufactures shredding machines for the recycling of valuable materials or the processing of waste. As a premium supplier, it offers high-performance shredders in various sizes and performance ranges. They work with different cutting units and perforated screens and thus produce different grain sizes (fractions). The input material can be wood, rubber, metal, plastic and many other materials. For example, electronic waste, paper, cardboard, files, hard drives or mattresses are perfectly shredded.

The challenge: Reducing shredder downtimes in waste management

UNTHA’s most important challenge is to monitor high-performance industrial shredders for waste processing or recyclables recovery. They are subjected to heavy loads during use, so malfunctions cannot be ruled out. This can lead to longer downtimes for users. For them, the cost per ton is crucial, so downtime should be avoided as much as possible. To achieve this goal, UNTHA has equipped its machines with sensors and networked them. In total, more than 100 measurement channels are recorded on each shredder and sent to the cloud in real time, including rotor speed, gearbox and oil temperature, power consumption, drive train vibrations and more.

Further challenges arise from increased energy costs as well as sustainability requirements. The machine builder’s customers are interested in working as resource-efficiently as possible and making the best possible use of energy. With real-time monitoring, it is possible to react immediately on site and quickly solve the technical problems. Malfunctions are thus eliminated more quickly and downtimes are reduced. However, in addition to local sensor technology, this also requires connectivity and a cloud solution based in Europe. It allows the operators of the machines to store the data securely and in accordance with data protection regulations so that they can view it at any time. A decisive challenge here is the worldwide use of the machines.

The solution: Preprocessing of measured values directly on the machine

UNTHA commissioned digitization specialist A1 Digital to design the solution. In a first step, the service provider determined the actual status. Among other things, this involved the question of whether data is already available and whether additional sensors need to be installed. The second step was then to connect the first machines in order to test the relevant interfaces locally and to the cloud. This includes device management in particular, so that individual machines can be addressed remotely.

The first use case was the visualization of some measured values. The company then connected more machines and introduced additional use cases, such as anomaly detection. The entire solution consists of three components.

1. The hardware for data acquisition

An industrial PC (IPC) reads the actual values of the machine and the sensors of the fast measurement technology (condition monitoring) and sends the relevant data to the cloud via a mobile modem. On the input side, it does not matter whether the sensors are retrofitted or existing sensors are used. The data itself consists not only of the actual measured values, but also includes time stamps. These are particularly important as the machines are located worldwide. Thus, for each data point there is the indication of place and time, in order to be able to represent appropriate sequences. All of a machine’s data first converges in the IPC (also called edge device) and is preprocessed there, whereby numerous aggregations and decisions are already made in the machine. For example, it only transfers data points to the cloud that are different from the previous values. This saves bandwidth for mobile transmission, so that costs remain limited.

2. The SIM card(s) for sending data

UNTHA and many other medium-sized mechanical engineering companies sell their products worldwide. They are used in different mobile networks and can freely choose from all available providers. A1 Digital connects the modem to the optimal network in each case, taking into account the available performance.

3. the Exoscale cloud platform

Exoscale is the infrastructure platform of A1 Digital and its parent, the A1 Telekom Austria Group. The cloud offering is based in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and complies with the European Data Protection Regulation (EU-GDPR). Mechanical engineering manufacturers can connect their machines to this platform and store the data securely on a dedicated IoT platform. The most important task of UNTHA GENIUS and MyUNTHA is the visualization of the 100 measuring channels. In addition, it offers the possibility to define alarm values for these values and to send an alarm via SMS or e-mail when they are exceeded. In addition, A1 Digital’s platform provides asset insights, predictions based on machine learning, and security monitoring. A good overview is provided by the Demo Center, which can be used to explore the individual offerings based on realistic data.

The result: Fast troubleshooting, better maintenance planning

The advantage of this solution for the manufacturer UNTHA is the possibility to use the data in real time. The company thus achieves full data transparency and a user-friendly visualization of operational and process data that can be used in statistics, trends and analyses. This transparency allows quick control of defined thresholds and ongoing insight into process-critical components. Deviations from the plan and malfunctions are reported by e-mail and/or SMS.

UNTHA GENIUS allows to improve the utilization of the machine, increases the throughput and thus optimizes the production process. As a result, operators achieve high plant availability. There are fewer unplanned downtimes and problems can be responded to quickly. In addition, maintenance and servicing work can be better planned. This ultimately reduces energy expenditures as well as maintenance and downtime costs. From a commercial perspective, this also reduces personnel and process costs.

The core elements of this solution are very similar across different industries – regardless of the exact type of machines. The solution is therefore very easily transferable and scalable to hundreds or even thousands of machines. A1 Digital uses a modular system for this, with manufacturers selecting the necessary components according to requirements.

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