For years, the packaging industry has been supplementing its service portfolio with digital offerings such as mobile maintenance. In recent months, however, the market has experienced a major upheaval, triggered by the Corona pandemic. This change is also revealing unexpected opportunities – which packaging machine manufacturer Schubert is seizing in order to proactively further develop its service offering.
As a forerunner in innovative technology, Schubert is taking advantage of changing conditions to further expand the digital capabilities it has developed in house and that are already available in its modular packaging machines. In doing so, the company can leverage a very significant advantage. This is because Schubert’s long-established philosophy of integrated, interface-free packaging machines has led to a steady growth in in-house expertise and to an extraordinary vertical range of manufacture – also at the digital level. The unique combination of expertise and digital data is the currency upon which Schubert will be generating new, proactive services for mobile maintenance. After all, machine availability is always a top priority. During the lockdown, for example, the packaging machine manufacturer not only carried out virtual commissioning of its packaging machines, it also provided such skilful support to a customer in Asia via the Internet that they were able to assemble and commission their new system independently on site – without a single Schubert technician actually being present.
With the GS.Gate from Schubert subsidiary Schubert System Elektronik, an industrial gateway is now built into every Schubert packaging machine ex works. The server not only collects machine information and enables a view of OEE data on its GRIPS.world platform, for example, it also provides a multi-secured interface to the Internet. As an option, customers can make the data accessible to Schubert via the gateway. This paves the way for precise analyses of machine performance, predictive maintenance and therefore higher machine availability in the long term. A display and connection via an app are also conceivable in the long term, should customers prefer to use their own company platforms.
3D printing is also inseparably linked with digital services. Today, not a single Schubert packaging machine leaves the production line without certain machine parts – especially robotic tools – originating from the 3D printer. With the new PARTBOX part streaming platform, Schubert will be making certified digital print jobs available to its customers in the future via the Internet. In conjunction with a 3D printer and PARTBOX access, this results in an intelligently managed digital warehouse which can provide both machine parts and a wide range of operating resources with a single click. It is also conceivable that the platform could be extended to include standard warehouse functions such as inventory overview, reorder options and others.
The digital twin developed by Schubert, called Titan, promises an entirely different league of new processes and services. The packaging machine manufacturer does not want to limit itself to spatial representation alone, but rather would like to be able to configure packaging machines in the shortest possible time and to fully simulate complex packaging processes in the moving image. The changed work processes in development deliver tangible benefits to customers: The configuration of machines will be much more efficient and reliable with the Titan. Delivery times are considerably shortened. Commissioning can be simulated in advance, making virtual factory approvals even easier. If the real machine data then flows into the digital twin, it will be possible to make even more precise forecasts about upcoming service intervals or to program alarms for deviating values in the future. There are no limits to the imagination here.
Especially for continuous-production industries such as the food sector, the goal of digital services has to encompass exact prediction models of the packaging machines, combined with intelligent logistics for spare parts and 24h availability in support. This is because even insidious changes such as unnatural heat development or increasing motor currents in a line can then be detected and eliminated at such an early stage that major downtimes can be reduced to an absolute minimum. Support services at Schubert have already been changed accordingly: The packaging machine manufacturer now offers a central customer interface for addressing all requests and concerns. The distinction between mechanics and electronics, which is quite complex for customers, has also been eliminated, as both areas are inseparably linked in the systems. The hotline is also succeeded by a newly set up Technology Center with second level support.