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IBM and Schaeffler announce partnership for digital transformation

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German industrial giant Schaeffler, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of precision-engineered parts that keep the world moving, has entered a multi-year strategic partnership with IBM to supercharge its entire operations with Watson’s cognitive intelligence. Using IBM’s cloud and Watson IoT technologies, Schaeffler will connect and transform every aspect of its business from its supply chain, through to manufacturing, sales and after-sales service.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Cognitive computing and the Internet of Things are an advanced driving force for increased connectivity and automation across the manufacturing industry. The resulting rapid transformation is revolutionary, with billions of sensors connecting equipment, and artificial intelligence analyzing the performance of each component to give unprecedented real-time insight into how improvements can be made.

“This is an era of rapid technological change defined by factories and machines capable of autonomously monitoring their own performance, triggering actions and exchanging information with each other and factory staff,” said Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson IoT. “The result is an improved level of human-machine collaboration, improved working conditions and a net gain for consumers who are demanding highest possible levels of quality, cost-effectiveness and product customization.”

Schaeffler’s pioneering ‘mechatronic’ solutions

Schaeffler are pioneering the development of innovative ‘mechatronic’ solutions. These solutions combine mechanical, electronic and software capabilities into individual components and systems which have the ability to monitor, report and manage their own performance. Schaeffler is digitizing its entire operations, from supply right through to production, and aiming to build virtual models that enable new approaches to design, production and after-sales service.

Industries set to be transformed by Schaeffler’s agreement with IBM include, Automotive, Renewables, and Rail. By tapping IBM’s cognitive computing and research capabilities, Schaeffler plans to further accelerate this work with the vision of producing safer, more reliable and efficient systems for its automotive and industrial customers.

The power of combined data

In addition to it’s ‘mechatronic’ solutions, Schaeffler will be leveraging the power of other data alongside their own to deliver optimal solutions and keeps workers safe. For example, in the renewables industry, Schaeffler will explore how machine learning  reveals additional insight into the performance of equipment in real time.  Using wind forecasts from the Weather Company (an IBM company), in addition to data produced by the huge bearings that help the turbines spin freely, turbine operators will be able to plan ahead and replace parts during less windy periods.

Keeping the world’s machines moving

Keeping passengers and freight moving efficiently on rails is another area that Schaeffler enables. Using cognitive insights from the cloud, Schaeffler will enhance its predictive maintenance systems, helping increase efficiency and safety. Smart bearings will be able to measure their own vibration, temperature, torque and speed, triggering alerts and informing railway operators about possible safety issues.

“Germany is at the forefront of the Industry 4.0 initiative and by leveraging these new technologies, companies like Schaeffler are literally redefining how we design, produce and maintain machines – making them safer and more reliable. This is why we are launching a full suite of Industry 4.0 offerings solutions and services to support our clients and drive transformation across the manufacturing industry,” said Klaus Rosenfeld, Schaeffler’s CEO.

Connected vehicles will need components that can provide an array of information which can be used to ensure optimal operation. The data can also be used to offer customers new value-added services, something which will be key in the automotive industry in the years ahead.

Connecting machines and operations

IBM’s cognitive technologies will also help Schaeffler take advantage of their worldwide network of manufacturing locations, research and development facilities, and sales companies in around 170 locations spread over 50 countries. Experts in the Operation Centre will use the Schaeffler Cloud to monitor the condition of thousands of machines and pieces of equipment on-site and off-site.

The technology will support Schaeffler’s Industry 4.0 strategy for tooling machines. This will look to improve overall equipment efficiency (OEE), including the optimisation of production processes, real time analysis of data and context-driven maintenance, networking and optimization of multiple machines within production lines. Schaeffler’s aim is to continuously optimise production and supply chains and increase efficiency to aid the creation of new service offerings for customers and partners.

Find out how Watson IoT can infuse new intelligence into products and services.

Find out more about IBM’s work with Schaeffler, watch a video of the work in action, or read more on how IBM Watson technologies are harnessing data to increase operational performance across multiple industries. See how IBM is building IoT momentum and helping our clients shape the connected future.

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