BOGE has placed itself at the cutting edge of compressor manufacture by investing €2 million in creating a ‘smart factory’ at its German headquarters in Bielefeld, west of Hannover. The 2,000m² smart factory, which manufactures BOGE’s HST (high-speed turbo) oil-free compressor, monitors, controls and optimises manufacturing to maximise product quality and reliability, and ensure there are no faults during production.
The factory also facilitates traceability so that, in the rare event that there is a problem, it can be identified and corrected quickly. Daniel Mittag, product manager HST at BOGE, explained: “In case of a failure, the smart factory helps us to diagnose and trace problems. We are able to review where the problem came from because all the data is related to components. This means it is easy to analyse and get in contact with the supplier to avoid similar problems in future.”
The smart factory employs Industry 4.0 (automation and data exchange in manufacturing), using computer systems to monitor the physical processes of the factory and make decentralised decisions. Compressed air components ‘communicate’ with connected peripheral equipment automatically, using integrated networking to ensure the entire plant operates at full efficiency at all times.
Aljoscha Schlosser, digital innovation manager at BOGE, explained: “It is unnecessary for us to have an automated line for the HST manufacture because production numbers are not so high. “For us, it was more important to effectively ‘connect’ components and the worker together to reach higher quality. We use barcodes so that, for example, the material ‘knows’ which product it will become part of at the end of the process.
“Man, machine and component communicate with each other, work together and even learn from each other. The smart workplace not only projects instructions and parts lists onto the worker’s workbench, but also adapts its knowledge based on experiences.”
Smart torque wrenches with wireless local area network access, for example, know which torque is required, and independently adjust themselves. Production technology in BOGE’s smart factory is digitised so relevant values are recorded automatically. The path of the components and any relevant work step can thus be traced seamlessly. BOGE continues to develop the smart factory and plans to transfer its principles to other products in the future.