Germany Turns Manufacturing into an IoT Art Form

iiot case study

Schwering & Hasse uses IIoT to make 32 million miles of high-grade copper wire, monitored and controlled for quality with a level of precision that is down to less than an inch.

There has been endless talk about the Industrial Internet, IIoT, and Industry 4.0 (if you live in Germany) and the extraordinary impact they are having on the enterprise, the economy, and (will have) on our lives. There have been many extraordinary claims – and many extraordinary examples – from large enterprises who have hired thousands of developers. But what about the small to medium-size businesses (SMEs), the backbone of many economies? Will they become the backbone of the digital economy too, or simply disappear?

Here is a real-life, and may I say, extraordinary real-time example from Luegde in Northern Germany. It involves the production of paper-thin copper wire – stretching from here to the orbit of Mars.

Schwering & Hasse modestly describe themselves as “a reliable partner of the international electro-technical industry.” The company is a great example of the many German companies that are global leaders in manufacturing – and one that few people have heard of although their tech is probably inside your watch or your car today. Schwering & Hasse makes high-grade copper wire to specification. Lots of it: Over 140,000 kilometers per day. That is enough to stretch from earth to near the orbit of Mars annually. And the production of these 32 million miles of wire is monitored and controlled for quality with a level of precision that is down to just less than an inch.

See also: Gartner: IIoT Ready to Explode, But Security Keeps Us Up At Night

That is the extraordinary part of what is very ordinary copper wire production: 32 million miles of wire made to specification, with a quality control precision that can identify an issue to a particular inch. Think how much waste has been eliminated if a quality issue can be isolated to a single inch, and in real-time.

Here is how: 400 production lines, 24 hours a day, 20 different digital sensor types, 50,000 production events monitored per second, and 20,000 fully automated delivery pallet slots. To put these 50,000 production events per second in perspective, both Facebook and Twitter have about six thousand updates per second.  

All this information is analyzed for quality issues in real-time and stored against the event of a warranty or performance claim.

Schwering & Hasse monitors production parameters such as temperature, conductivity, tension, and thickness for each different type of wire. “We have the ability to manage quality consistently as we juggle multiple changing specifications and customer requirements,” is how Dirk Jäger, CIO at Schwering & Hasse, modestly puts it.

Schwering & Hasse is providing extra IoT services, including warehousing and delivery. As an added eService and revenue generator, Schwering & Hasse also offers predictive demand analytics and the onsite stock control for the customers themselves (reducing delivery process costs by 40%).

This is German high precision software (the company uses Software AG’s streaming analytics platform) meeting German high precision hardware manufacturing. There is an elegance and beauty to this production and supply chain process. Yes, manufacturing can make even the production of copper wire into an art form, as I am sure all you engineers out there already knew.

And it is a great example of how an SME can become a fully digital enterprise and meet the challenges of 21st Century manufacturing.

There are other approaches. ADAMOS is a joint venture between Software AG and a who’s who of the SME machinery industry, developing and sharing their industry-specific IoT platform and developing industry-specific IoT standards. But that’s another story.

Dr. Stefan Sigg

About Dr. Stefan Sigg

Dr. Stefan Sigg is the Chief Product Officer at Software AG. He has been a member of the Management Board of Software AG since April 2017 (under contract until 2027) and is responsible for Software AG's entire product portfolio, including global support, cloud operations, and research. Dr. Sigg earned both his master's degree and Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Bonn, Germany. He started his professional career in SAP's product development unit in 1995. After several management positions, he took over the product leadership for SAP Business Warehouse, SAP HANA, and SAP Analytics. Additionally, Sigg has given courses and lectures on analytics, big data technologies, and IoT at the Technical University of Darmstadt since 2014. He is also a member of the following committees: Supervisory Board of the German Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Board of Trustees of the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technologies, and the Supervisory Board of Fischer Information Technology AG.

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