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From hardware to smart ware: production goes digital

Digitalization does not stop at manufacturing proceesses – and has the potential to revolutionize it in the long term by streamlining processes and intelligently networking them. For many companies in the hardware industry this means that they have to rethink and adapt their strategies. Find out about today’s possibilities and tomorrow’s trends in our blog post and at the INTERNATIONAL HARDWARE FAIR. <read more>

Digitally supported tools have long since found their way into everyday life: Do-it-yourself enthusiasts, for example, are glad about smart measuring tapes that still determine proportions with millimetre precision where folding rules reach their limits, or about spirit levels that can now be easily found on a mobile phone via an app.

But not only for DYI lovers, but in industrial production as well, digital helpers have become popular accelerators in production. Production systems can already communicate independently with components, report problems or detect when a tool needs to be replaced. Driverless transport systems perform logistics tasks, and entire process chains can be controlled remotely thanks to sensors and intelligent systems. Even in traditional manufacturing processes, manual work is increasingly becoming an exception – the Internet of Things (IoT) is on the rise everywhere, as is the Smart Factory. And even if it is viewed with scepticism, for example out of concern for jobs: this development cannot be reversed, so the only way to deal with it is to take advantage of it as efficiently as possible.

 

In addition, companies can benefit in many ways. Optimised processes, lower production costs, shorter production times, higher productivity, efficient warehousing, faster development and market introduction times, better competitiveness and increased flexibility are only some of the advantages with which networked production can score.

Networked systems for smart processes

The technical basis of the Smart Factory are cyber-physical systems that communicate with each other using the Internet of Things. For the main part, it is not really a matter of reinventing the wheel of production. The path to intelligent production leads first and foremost via the coupling of existing information in order to gain new insights and optimise processes along the entire process chain accordingly.

What does this mean for the hardware industry? What is possible nowadays?

Digital torque wrenches with interfaces for data transmission and data documentation have been on the market for some time now, for example, allowing the parameterisation, acquisition, graphical evaluation and archiving of screwdriving data. Depending on the tool, data is transferred either via USB interface or radio. Increased productivity through work facilitation goes hand in hand with process documentation and quality assurance.

Intelligent cordless screwdrivers, in which the complete control is integrated in the screwdriver, are also already available. Thanks to the integrated control system, the cordless screwdrivers can be connected directly to higher-level systems, even without any additional hardware. The benefit for users: no additional costs for hardware and a device that is industry 4.0-compatible.

The digital revolution does not stop at the topic of battery performance, an often annoying aspect of everyday work life: for example, there is an app that communicates with tools to switch batteries on and off via remote control. This not only saves energy, but also contributes to the efficient use of working time, as the readiness of the tools can be checked – and thus guaranteed – at any time.

Does that mean for the hardware industry that everything will be different now? No. Because many processes will remain as they are for the time being: because there is no other solutions yet, they are too specialized or digitization simply does not make economic sense, among other reasons. However, it is certain that digitisation will continue to penetrate the industry and that companies are well advised to make friends with it and take advantage of the resulting benefits.

You can find out more about the digitisation of the industry on the website of the INTERNATIONAL HARDWARE FAIR

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EISENWARENMESSE – International Hardware Fair Cologne (4 to 7 March 2018) invites the exhibitors and trade visitors to submit their personal assessment of the economic situation and development on the website at www.eisenwarenmesse.com by answering two questions. There are additionally two further questions on current, industry-relevant themes such as for instance digitalisation, E-Commerce, social media usage or start-ups.

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