EMS-Manufacturer Digitized Production Blueprint for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Innerhalb der Initiative Smart Electronic Factory (SEF) entwickeln die Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen (THM) und der EMS-Fertiger Limtronik eine Sensoranwendung für eine effizientere Produktion.
Within the Smart Electronic Factory (SEF) initiative, the Technical University of Central Hesse and the EMS manufacturer Limtronik are developing a sensor application for more efficient production.

The Technical University of Central Hesse and EMS-manufacturer Limtronik digitize existing systems with self-sufficiently working radio sensors. The concept should become a model for medium-sized production companies.

Systems in Limtroniks’s own electronics production were retrofitted to increase the overall system efficiency. The basis is formed by sensors that record process statuses and measured values without interfering with existing plants and provide evaluation tools via a secure gateway. The project was implemented as part of the Industry 4.0 initiative Smart Electronic Factory and is regarded by those involved as a blueprint for medium-sized production companies. The technology is to be made available via a platform for the secure connection of machines to the Internet. The development is supported by the state of Hessen.

For the implementation at Limtronik, one of the goals was to introduce a new maintenance management system that is more closely oriented to actual requirements. EMS manufacturers, for example, maintain reflow ovens at fixed intervals to dispose of condensate and cleaning chemicals. The optimum time for maintenance from a technical, ecological and economic point of view depends on variable parameters such as plant utilization and order situation. »Cleaning too late can lead to quality problems with the circuit boards. Too early cleaning, on the other hand, causes more chemical waste, higher costs and more downtime,« says Limtronik's managing director Gerd Ohl, pointing out the permanently necessary weighing up.

Maintenance-On-Demand Increases Runtime

By retrofitting sensors, maintenance management now takes place at flexible intervals that are determined on the basis of the actual maintenance requirements. Non-invasive, energy-autonomous current measurement with radio-based data transmission and data bundling in the secure gateway is carried out. »Within the scope of final theses by students of computer science at the Technical University of Central Hesse, tools for visualization and monitoring were also developed on site and installed at Limtronik,« explains project manager Prof. Diethelm Bienhaus from the Technical University, who initiated the project.

The evaluation of the data takes place in the IoT platform »sphinx open online«. Thus, an optimization of the maintenance intervals, reduced disposal and maintenance costs, predictive maintenance and longer plant operating times were achieved.
»Energy efficiency needs process transparency. Only when energy and raw material flows can be measured, there is a chance to optimize and achieve savings«, says Prof. Bienhaus. »Climate change and the associated rise in energy costs and dwindling resources are making energy efficiency in production an increasingly important strategic factor.« Gerd Ohl sees high savings potential above all in the production facilities of the vehicle construction and electrical industries, which would thus also have the greatest interest in implementing the technology in their production.