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Practical example and current challenges

  • One challenge for machine and plant manufacturers is the often-missing flow of information from the delivered machines and plants back into the digital representation. The operator of the machine usually has little interest in providing the machine and plant builder with insights into his machine usage and thus into ongoing production and process technology. In addition to the lack of value, there are strong concerns about the protection of company-specific knowledge (technology knowledge).
  • Another challenge is the lack of information exchange across individual production plants of an operator where similar or identical machines are operated. As a result, machines can only be optimized on their own or at the specific location, if at all. However, conclusions cannot be drawn from comparable machines. Thus, machine operators try to perform optimizations based on small data sets. Optimization across countries and companies currently rarely takes place.
  • The challenge can also be applied to the supplier relationship between the machine/plant builder and the component manufacturer. In this case, the flow of information also takes place only in one direction: From the component manufacturer to the machine/plant builder. Due to a lack of information on the specific usage of the machine, the manufacturer is often unable to advise on component selection and does not see the need to disclose any weaknesses of the component. Synergy effects could be achieved on both sides through deeper integration and increased exchange of information.
  • To overcome the problems, information abstracted from data must be stored in a suitable platform that enables the exchange of information independently of manufacturers and across the supply chain without having to release technological know-how. Questions about data and IP protection and the trust of the partners among each other must be clarified. The concrete design use and billing of the additional services offered must also be defined according to their use and the benefits achieved.
  • The use case envisions the integration of information abstracted from data from various production sites, the supply chain (component manufacturers, machine/plant manufacturers, machine/plant operators, maintenance service providers) and the life cycle of machines and plants (engineering, operation, retrofitting). This enables new types of cross-fleet and cross-site smart services based on a larger data pool. Here, all stakeholders benefit from a secure exchange of information that can be specifically regulated, as well as from a shared cloud environment. Possible applications are diverse and include, for example, the optimization of product quality, the prediction of failures or RUL (Remaining Useful Life) incl. the adjustment of the use of components and machines/equipment to extend the service life as well as predictive maintenance applications.

Integration of Data along the Life Cycle of Production Machines

What added value does the "GAIA-X project" offer?

  • Gaia-X, as an open, European infrastructure, enables a high acceptance of the solution and a high level of trust in the system among the partners involved. Companies avoid vendor lock-in. This means that services or products from one provider cannot be easily replaced by an equivalent solution from another provider. Broad acceptance of the solution and low barriers of entry are essential if the use case described is to be implemented on the required scale.
  • Gaia-X ensures the networking of components and machine data within secure data spaces in international supply chains and dependencies. Through a shared solution, the parties involved do not need to operate their own infrastructure. In addition to reduced costs, high availability and reliability of the solution can thus be expected.
  • The provision of the basic standards and rules for such a platform by Gaia-X as an independent party strengthens confidence in data security: via protected areas, the confidentiality of data can be ensured, so access to data sets can be specifically granted.
    An extension of the ecosystem to include the edge layer can facilitate or enable the execution of real-time requirements in the process. A hybrid system can realize the benefits of a shared cloud solution and an on-premise edge solution through data continuity, simplified deployment and centralized management.

Use Case Team

  • Prof. Dr. Birgit Vogel-Heuser – Technical University of Munich, Institute of Automation and Information Systems