25 June, 2024

Digital infrastructure makes the IoT available in practice

26 September, 2017

Entering the world of Industry 4.0 is now fast and easy thanks to a standardised and flexible digital infrastructure from Schaeffler. With components equipped with sensors, application-specific solutions, and cloud-based services, manufacturers and operators of machines and equipment can use and apply the Internet of Things (IoT) in practice.

Schaeffler’s Smart Ecosystem 4.0 offers a comprehensive, cloud-based hardware and software infrastructure that includes every stage of digital added value – from components equipped with sensors through to digital services. The flexible architecture of this system gives manufacturers and operators of machines and equipment a simple, application-oriented point of entry into Schaeffler’s range of digital services that can be expanded at any time. The rolling bearing, its mechatronics derivatives, and the corresponding domain expertise provide the central source of information in this field.

Components equipped with sensors are central to the drive systems used in machines and equipment – they record data and are the fundamental ‘enablers’ for these digital services. Schaeffler’s aim is to continuously transform conventional mechanical products and integrate them into the digital world. Bearings and guidance systems equipped with sensors have already been on the market for several years. At the 2017 Hanover Messe, Schaeffler presented a rolling bearing system that is based on standard products and can be configured in a modular fashion with various different sensors, which allows virtually every desired bearing position to be equipped with sensors. This represents an important step towards a future in which not only complex systems but also simple assemblies and machines will have easy access to digitalisation and the IoT.

 Flexible gateway

The recorded data is transferred via a flexible Schaeffler Gateway to the Schaeffler Cloud, where Schaeffler’s rolling bearing domain knowhow is made usable in the form of digital services. For example, automated rolling bearing diagnosis and ‘remaining useful life calculation’ can be used to provide precise information on the condition of the bearing and therefore of the machine being monitored, which in turn, allows specific actions to be recommended. It will even be possible to use actual load data to make adjustments to operational machine processes in real time.

Schaeffler’s Cloud-capable FAG SmartCheck, which allows a simple and flexible point of entry into the digitalisation of machines and equipment based on vibration monitoring, was also on display at the 2017 Hanover Messe. This latest version of the FAG SmartCheck uses an MQTT interface to provide a direct link to the Schaeffler Cloud or to any other platform based on IBM technology. It is also possible to communicate with other cloud technologies via a Schaeffler gateway or alternative gateway solutions using an OPC/UA interface. The connection between the SmartCheck and the Schaeffler Cloud is claimed to be easy to make via smartphone, e.g. by scanning the relevant product’s QR code or using the free app.

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