German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp has built and deployed its own Industrial IoT (IIoT) platform within its materials services business, in order to link together machines of different makes, models and generations.
The new platform has been given the name ‘Toii’ by Thyssenkrupp. This is a double play on words: it’s IIoT spelled backwards, but also, the name is pronounced ‘toy’ because, according to company claims, it makes “child’s play” of linking seemingly incompatible machines.
So Thyssenkrupp has a sense of humour. That’s nice.
That said, Toii is seeking to fix a serious problem – one with which many companies struggle. Industrial machines are very diverse. A typical set-up in a factory, for example, would likely include a wide variety of machines from different makers and of different ages, built to perform a wide range of different tasks.
Using Toii, it is possible for Thyssenkrupp to connect these machines, the company says, giving a few examples: bandsaws and bending machines, mobile objects like cranes and forklifts; milling machines and laser systems.
This, in turn, means processes can be more streamlined, planned remotely and co-ordinated across a number of locations. There is also potential for Toii to simplify analysis tasks, ranging from keeping tabs on production rates to keeping an eye on the performance of machines themselves.
According to Thyssenkrupp, Toii was developed in-house by IT staff from Germany, India and the US has already been tested in the real world, at the company’s materials processing plant in Mannheim. There, it’s been deployed on a new, highly complex cut-to-length line where sheet steel is cut from coil.
According to the company’s description, Toii transfers work orders directly and in real time to the machine from the company’s SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and controls the machine’s settings, as they relate to size, weight and volumes. The platform also automatically retrieves the machine information required by SAP, so the status of a job and finished product can be viewed at any time.
“Other machines have also been digitally connected and automated using Toii,” explains the company, in a statement, “for example, measuring the thickness of metal strips for effective quality control and automatic blanking. In the latter case, the platform even made it possible to fully integrate the blanking operation into a production line.”
Said Hans-Josef Hoff, member of the board of Thyssenkrupp Materials Services: “We’ve created an end-to-end solution that is tailored specifically to our needs. It will enable us to accelerate the automation of our production operations and make our processes much more efficient.”
The company now has plans to deploy Toii in the US and the UK.