Data in Power BI Has Helped Reduce Scrap Rate and Downtime
The staff at Kiekert have implemented pre-prepared reports fast and have learnt to create new ones by themselves. Read on to find out how we collect data from Kiekert's S7-1500 PLCs and, using Power BI, provide it for the company's maintenance and management so that they can make better decisions.
Founded in 1857, this global automotive locking systems manufacturer provides the locking system design of every third car worldwide. It supplies its products to many car makers, including ŠKODA AUTO, Audi, Jaguar and Maserati. With nearly 2,500 employees, it has maintained its presence in Czechia since 1993.
To Acquire Data from Machines Using Sensors or Directly from PLCs?
Kiekert first learnt about machine data collection at the FOXON Academy Tour. In the Industrial Network Diagnostics workshop, Jaromír Peterka, FOXON's owner, mentioned our approach to data acquisition, analysis and reporting.
"We know that data is available in our PLCs, so we imagine a system that can utilise it directly."
Before Kiekert's PLC programmers could develop their own data collection system, the German mother company had presented its solution. "A supplier collected data from external sensors, but the whole solution was too time-consuming. We weren't happy with it. We build our production lines by ourselves, using Siemens S7-1500 controllers as the lines' control systems. We know that data is available in these PLCs, so we imagined a system that could utilise it directly," said Tomáš Knajfl from Kiekert.
In the end, the project managed by the German supplier was abandoned, enabling the Czech Kiekert to start its own one. "We wanted to show everyone we could achieve more and asked FOXON to help us," said Tomáš Váša, who on the part of Kiekert had the biggest share in the success of this project.
Maintenance Will See Data on User-Friendly Dashboards
The aim was to utilise data from Kiekert's production lines and provide it for maintenance, helping the company streamline its production processes and monitor machine condition. As the modern S7-1500 PLC supports OPC UA communications, it was possible to acquire data using the OPC Router data exchange software. OPC Router provides the data for Kiekert's higher-level systems, in this case a database. It is this database that the Microsoft Power BI reporting tool then relies on.
Learn to Read as Well as Create Reports
A FOXON technician connected the OPC Router data exchange platform to the PLC and the database. The FOXON BI team then structured the data for the purpose of Power BI reporting. "After that, we provided Kiekert with dashboards that, in our experience, manufacturing companies find the most useful. This only took a few days, as we had these dashboards pre-prepared," said Leoš Pfannenstiel, BI Department Manager at FOXON.
Afterwards, Kiekert's PLC programmers attended a training course at FOXON. Not only did they learn to work with the reports developed for Kiekert but also create new reports according to what information they needed to derive from the data.
"A big advantage is that well-prepared data enables you, through Power BI, to uncover information and connections among the data that you wouldn't think of," said Pfannenstiel.
Following the training course, the integration of the solution into everyday operations of Kiekert's maintenance was fast. Within a month, the reports were available not only to the programmers trained by FOXON but also to the entire maintenance and management.
Data in User-Friendly Reports Will Reveal Hidden Problems in Production and Maintenance
The system now easily provides the necessary data, for example:
- OEE – availability, performance and quality
- Downtime analysis – duration, the number of downtime occurrences, and downtime types
- Analysis of the actual cycle time
- NOK analysis
Kiekert's maintenance can turn this data into valuable information. They can see, for example, how a machine's condition has changed over time or how to optimise the operation of the production line.
"By adjusting the position of a screwdriver by 0.5 millimetre, we managed to reduce our scrap rate."
Tangible Benefits? Lower Scrap Rate and Less Downtime
"There are 3 identical automatic screwdrivers on the production line. We'd known about this workstation's scrap rate before. It'd been regular. But we now also know that 70% of our NOK pieces had been produced only by one of those screwdrivers. By adjusting its position by 0.5 millimetre, we managed to reduce our scrap rate," said Knajfl.
"A bigger problem than a one-off 10-minute failure is a 1-minute failure that repeated 20 times a day."
As the Kiekert staff build their own production lines, they use the data also to understand how to streamline projects. They can now capture nuances and identify errors in a machine's settings.
The reports are appreciated also by the management. "The management are mostly interested in downtime. When comparing machines they're now able to identify even short failures. They can clearly see that a bigger problem than a one-off 10-minute failure is a 1-minute failure that repeated 20 times a day. They hadn't known about these short failures before. Maintenance personnel used to turn the machine back on manually but wouldn't find the cause of the failure," said Knajfl about the obvious benefits of reporting data collected from Kiekert's machines.
"We were pleasantly surprised not only by the speed of implementation but also the price."
Power BI as a Standard Tool for the Whole Business
"We've been very happy with FOXON. Our communication during the implementation was very effective, and they tailored the solution to our needs. And besides, thanks to FOXON's training course we can now create reports by ourselves. We're programmers, so we like to make modifications ourselves," said Knajfl. "And the solution wasn't expensive at all. We were pleasantly surprised not only by the speed of implementation but also the price. Even a small project like this can bring tangible benefits. We're already getting them," said Knajfl.
Today Power BI reporting is used by the entire management and maintenance at Kiekert. In the future, it may as well be used by Kiekert's production and quality departments. They only need to customise the reports to their needs. To help these departments, Kiekert has recently employed a Power BI data reporting specialist.