Events in Actions on the IoT platform of Continental’s Smart Factory
Continental, technology leader in the automotive sector
Founded in 1871, Continental Automotive offers safe, efficient, intelligent and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation.
It is mainly known for being the fourth largest tyre manufacturer in the world, but also ranks third in global sales of OEM car parts. It develops pioneering technologies and services for the sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods, and employs over 245,000 people in 60 countries and markets.
The Spanish factory, in the city of Barcelona, is one of Continental’s facilities, producing electronic components for car dashboards.
Continental factory in Barcelona
The challenge: Reduce downtime and improve plant efficiency
From Continental, they decided to look for solutions that would allow the employee to have the information they needed just when they needed it.
The Barcelona manufacturing plant is made up of SMT (Surface Mount Technology) lines of over 40 meters in length. Operators at these lines must be attentive to their tasks and to warnings and incidents along the entire line to avoid any unnecessary stops. Continental required a solution to improve the efficiency of its equipment and reduce downtime to a minimum. For example, if a material ran out at an electronic component placement station, a warning was triggered and the operator had to identify and replace it as soon as possible, otherwise, it resulted in a line stop and a consequent loss of productivity.
Screens were installed on the lines to show alerts, however, this system required operators be attentive to the screens while carrying out their work. This caused distractions in production tasks, plus the response to alerts was not prioritized and did not have resources allocated to respond to them, resulting in a breakdown in coordination.
Integration of all industrial data on a single IIoT platform: 4ACTION
The Industry 4.0 team of Continental in collaboration with Zerintia, began the project to develop a solution capable of exploiting to the full the Smart Factory capabilities of the Rubi plant.
For the purpose of the project and for future use cases, Zerintia's Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform, 4ACTION Solution, needed to be connected to all existing systems at Continental, including plant production control software (MES), programmable logic controllers (PLC) and the native warning system.
Roles were defined for each employee based on their job position and all key events from the connected information sources were identified, including the precise location of the guided vehicles (AGVs), thanks to Sewio's UWB technology, which incorporates 4ACTION.
Until now, each system generated information independently without any correlation between them. With the implementation of 4ACTION, all data are integrated, combining information from different sources and becoming an IIoT Platform that integrates in a fast, intuitive and simple way the information generated by the industrial plant.
Based on all the integrated and real-time data received, plant events are identified, which generate alerts, automate workflows and launch concrete actions in response to those events, involving employees, machinery and information systems.
The project team identified events capable of launching predefined actions, to optimize plant response times.
In short, 4ACTION integrates and orchestrates information from all systems, identifying specific events and triggering actions automatically defined by Continental.
When the worker finishes unloading materials from the AGV, he must inform the system through his Smartwatch (End of Unloading option), and the system will issue an order to the AGV to resume its route to the next stop.
Increasing the OEE of the plant
For example, during the procurement of raw materials, the system generates a material order in the ERP automatically. This triggers logistics workers to prepare an AGV with the material requested by the production line. When the AGV reaches the material delivery point, the logistics worker receives a notice on his smartwatch to pick it up.
4ACTION reduces response time due to material shortages, reduces AGV downtime and significantly increases its operational availability.
In short, its implementation at Continental reduced unnecessary waiting times by improving plant OEE.
Information at the service of the connected employee
The connection of the system with the employees was key in the project.
4ACTION allows real-time communication with the different employees in the plant. At Continental, operators wear a Smartwatch on their wrists, to receive through this wearable device, all the information needed to perform their work in a more efficient way.
When an employee picks up his Smartwatch, he must identify himself in the system. Each employee, has a role assigned, and the system recognizes the employee and is able to identify the capabilities and tasks he can develop and the type of alerts and notifications he must receive. The information is made available to alert you when your intervention is needed, without the need to divert attention from the tasks you are performing.
Continental also uses this system to trigger alerts to the maintenance team. The integration of the factory MES information with 4ACTION, allows that, in the event of a certain number of wrong parts at the end of the electronic components assembly line, an alert is automatically triggered to the maintenance technician, reducing the resolution time of a possible incident.
Smartwatches at the Continental plant
Real-time priority management allows for more efficient team management
The work process in Continental's plant requires good coordination between different work teams and manufacturing lines. To do this, it is essential to prioritize the most critical tasks and assign them to the employees and assets capable of solving them.
Each alert is classified by the importance assigned to the production line by the plant managers, the time it has been open and the team involved. The system analyzes in real time the events that occur in the plant and classifies them according to these criteria to launch the necessary alerts so that each work team has its tasks optimally defined.
Because plant information is received into the system in real time, plant managers can re-prioritize when necessary, by optimizing team work and improving resource efficiency to the maximum.
4ACTION has had a positive impact on Continental's operations.
The most immediate was the integration of all the plant systems, logical, physical and human, allowing decision making with all the information integrated in a single IIOT platform.
Reduction of MTTR (Machine Time to Ready)
Improvement of the OEE
3D Digital Twin
The digital twin allows to visualize in real time all the physical and logical elements of the plant and everything that is happening in real time, sensors, alerts, processes, AGV...
Plant managers, from any location, monitor what is happening in the factory through the 3D model, which provides information for agile and efficient decision making.