Festo AG is beefing up its Festo Automation Experience (Festo AX) to enable manufacturers of automation technology create real added value for customers. Particularly, the company sees digitalization as the way to create added value and Festo AX boosts machine and system performances.
Dr. Oliver Niese, Vice President at Digital Business at Festo said the company’s customer-oriented approach speaks of its experience and knowledge in customer applications. “Therefore, we know exactly what software solutions our customers need for their business,” said Niese.
Nevertheless, Festo not only has automation technology expertise but also industry sector expertise. With its recent acquisition of the software company Resolto, it also has access to competencies in advanced analytics and artificial intelligence. The software solution Festo AX builds on the combination of these pillars.
Niese noted the world is in a state of permanent change. He added, “These changes will impact on our business world too.” Especially, Niese said anyone who wants to understand the world and the changes in industry needs to be aware that in ten years’ time, three quarters of the working population will become digital natives.
These people are working with digital solutions in machine building. For companies involved in automation technology, it is therefore vital to their continued existence to take this into consideration for future strategies.
To take account of this evolution, Festo developed the solution Festo AX. “It helps our customers to make decisions on the basis of facts,” said Niese. To illustrate, Festo AX is an easy-to-use solution that allows users to extract maximum value from the data produced by their equipment through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Analyzing Data, Boosting Productivity
Users can increase productivity, reduce energy costs, avoid quality losses, optimize their shop floor and create new business models just by analyzing their data with Festo AX. “With the modules Predictive Maintenance, Predictive Energy and Predictive Quality, we implement our customers’ individual solutions together with them,” explained Niese.
Festo AX analyzes live data in real time. In addition, it can go well flexibly into the customer’s system – on premises, on edge, or in the cloud. The solution can use the customer’s own expertise according to the principle of “human in the loop”. The user themselves and no one else remains the owner of the collected data.
The limit of data analysis is not just to components and modules from Festo itself. “A big advantage on the market is that our software also makes it possible to reliably analyze components from other manufacturers,” said Niese.
For example, a leading car manufacturer has been relying on the high accuracy and efficiency of servo-pneumatic welding guns from Festo for many years. It has now installed more than 2,500 welding gun robots with this technology in the premium brand’s body shops. Moreover, they have been able to reduce downtimes by 25 percent. Particularly, predictive maintenance system from Festo makes them possible, which is ready for AI.
The car manufacturer can schedule repairs to welding guns in non-productive times, thereby increasing the availability of its equipment. The condition of the welding gun is visible in the controller. Automated repair orders and even life cycles for welding guns are thus easy to create. Furthermore, filter functions enable comparisons. The early detection of leaks results in energy savings since energy and maintenance costs play such a major role in the body shop.
Diagnostics for Maintenance
Right now, mechatronic system products from Festo for resistance spot welding already process a large amount of data and compress it as diagnostics for maintenance. However, it is not enough to just provide and display data. Predictive maintenance based on artificial intelligence will offer additional possibilities in the future compared to traditional condition monitoring approaches. Data from the equipment will be merged with process data and evaluated with analysis models and cloud-based solutions.
The system specialists at Festo have added software to the existing system computers of the robot cell that collects the welding gun’s diagnostic data and sends it to a collection point in the cloud. The cloud hosts a maintenance application that not only visualizes the data in the browser (maintenance dashboards) but also evaluates it in terms of the expected service life.