Industry 4.0

Cloud transformation of a Swiss manufacturer of industry machines

Bystronic is a leading provider of metal cutting systems with a focus on process automation. Inetum supports the client in the scope of implementing Industry 4.0 solutions in various areas of technology.

Country: Switzerland
Year: 2016 - ongoing
Project scope: Software development of Industry 4.0 solutions
Team size: 20
Technologies: .NET, C#, Azure Cloud, PLC, QA
Project company name: Swiss manufacturer of laser cutting machines
Bystronic outsourcing JCommerce

Heavy industry is a sector of the economy that consistently uses reliable solutions. On the other hand, the most advanced and cutting-edge Industry 4.0 solutions are created here. Modern industrial automation, ubiquitous software, and the challenges which have mainly affected software development companies to date are now the bread and butter of companies from this sector.

The client invests vast resources to ensure that the machines produced by the company are the most advanced on the market. The development of machines, as well as the addition of solutions supporting smart factories to the range of solutions offered by the company, necessitates investment in software development projects. The company had previously used internal resources to do so; however, this did not always bring the expected results. Management therefore decided to find a technological partner to audit the existing solutions in order to propose the best ones, and with the necessary competences to implement and maintain custom systems.

Nearshoring cooperation

Our cooperation with the client dates back to 2016, when they decided to work with Inetum due to our openness and flexible approach to collaboration, as well as our willingness to undertake projects outside our core business. In a short period of time, we have managed to build a team including niche competencies in the PLC area.

Our partnership is expanding, and the cross-technology team supporting the client now consists of engineers with expertise in industrial automation, control systems and modern machine industry solutions, as well as .NET and Azure Cloud developers, mobile developers, and software testers. Inetum specialists work with the client’s international development teams and their Project Managers.

Automation of configuration processes in Azure Cloud

Different machine parameters are needed to process each material (e.g. due to the thickness of the material), and there are thousands or even hundreds of thousands of combinations of parameters. An entire department is constantly working on refining the existing parameters for machines and developing new ones.

The client had to distribute thousands of machine configuration parameters to each customer several times a year, for which service technicians were responsible. Our client did not have a dedicated system for transferring configuration files, and so needed a solution that would facilitate and speed up the configuration of laser machines used for material processing and that would ensure the security and confidentiality of data.

The aim of the project which our specialists joined was to create an application to automate the configuration processes of laser machines manufactured by the client.

The challenges

  • Data centralization.
  • Making the distribution of confidential data more secure.
  • Integration of the client’s applications and systems.
  • Improving the flow of data between the central database and customers’ machines.
  • Acceleration of the machine configuration process.
  • Simplifying customer service and service activities.

Dedicated Parameter Database application

A certified Microsoft Azure architect from Inetum was involved in creating the PoC. As part of the project, a dedicated Parameter Database application is being developed to centralize laser machine configuration parameters.

With the Azure cloud-based solution, whoever is interested in parametric data – whether from the customer’s organization or end users / machine operators – can search and download configuration files from the cloud according to given permissions, while maintaining data security and confidentiality.

The application also makes it possible to upload configuration files to a server, where they are available to the manufacturer. This allows the client’s staff to perform data analysis for optimization purposes and provide support if any issues arise. By using the cloud, the company can swiftly respond to user requests and make modifications on an ongoing basis.

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Company infrastructure in the Azure cloud

As part of its long-term strategy, the client decided to move its infrastructure to the Microsoft Azure cloud. The decision was primarily determined by:

  • Scalability and the ability to quickly create environments,
  • Safety,
  • Cost optimization,
  • Infrastructure management.

Microsoft Azure Services used in the project

The developed architecture includes a number of services offered by the cloud provider, including integration with GitHub, Azure Webhook, App Services, Container Registry, Azure Blob Storage, Azure Active Directory, Azure SQL Database, Azure Key Vault and many others.

Basic assumptions of the developed solution and benefits for the end client

  • Faster machine configuration and implementation of optimization changes.
  • All the client’s products, systems and applications will use a centralized database.
  • Service technicians do not need to visit customers to determine the parameters for the processing of given material.
  • The option to modify and optimize machines on an ongoing basis.

.NET development of internal systems

The aim of the project is to carry out delegated tasks in internal projects on an ongoing basis, including:

A dedicated CAD/CAM system that provides all the necessary functions for metal parts manufacturing (calculations, 3D models, planning and monitoring of the cutting process).

Software for machine operators, supporting the operator panel interface, which allows them to select the design and material to be processed and manage the production process from the machine.

An application for machine and system service technicians to analyze system status (laser machines, material transport automation, etc.).

MMI ByTransCross
An application to operate a system for automating the loading and unloading of material for laser processing.

Parameter Editor
An application to automate the process of updating existing and preparing new configurations. The solution reduced two people’s working time from about 4 working days a month to about 2 hours.

Parameter Database
An application for collecting configuration files for laser machines.

An application for configuring 3D cutting, e.g. pipes.

We truly challenged them with the development of an unfamiliar manufacturing system, but they have adapted very well. They are patient, they offer thoughtful recommendations, and they steer things in the right direction.

Head of Digital Operations at Bystronic

Benefits for the client

  • Support provided by a multidisciplinary team of specialists with experience in both internal and end-client projects,
  • Access to niche competences allowing for the efficient implementation of changes and innovations in developed solutions,
  • Know-how in the field of architecture and cloud application development which allowed the client to carry out their Industry 4.0 strategy,
  • Reduced technical debt.

Audit and upgrade of software testing processes

The goal of the project was to systematize test processes for intra-company projects.

Within the scope of the service, a testing strategy was prepared, including a test process and testing tool strategies for the client’s project. Tasks are carried out in the form of manual and automatic tests using the TestComplete tool.

JCommerce QA specialists have come to know the specifics of our business and so have responded effectively to the current challenges. They also share the agile methodology of working which we have adopted, which undoubtedly contributes to the success of our joint projects. In the era of digital transformation, we also very much appreciate access to high-quality IT professionals, fast response times and the scalability of teams.

Head of Digital Products & Services at Bystronic

Improvement of the production process

The project included the development of industrial PLC software (Beckhoff PLC software), as part of a control system for machines manufactured by the company and a material transport system.

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The aims of the project were to shorten and improve the manufacturing process through the optimization of the machine control systems which are developed by PLC engineers.

The change in internal data exchange algorithms in the PLC reduced the processor load from almost 100% to less than 30%. As a result, there was no longer any need to upgrade the PLC to a higher, more efficient, but also much more expensive model.

The optimization of the system snapshot procedure for service purposes shortened the time taken for snapshot saving from 90 seconds to less than one second, and made the entire procedure more effective and much more reliable.

Business benefits

  • A more efficient controller data exchange,
  • Improved effectiveness and quality of the service procedure.

Support of PLC programmers in the implementation of a fully automated warehouse

The aim of the project for Bystronic was the implementation of a multilevel, fully automated warehouse.

The task concerned the development of a system for quick and organized access to heavy materials and loads. The designed solution includes the automation of the system functioning on the basis of a complex of corridors, SRS (Storage Retrieval System) machines, material stations, transfer stations and cassettes – i.e. metal cages used to store products.

Inetum provided the competences of PLC developers, who were responsible for creating a database interface on the PLC side, as well as operating the elevator itself: controlling axes and drives, introducing a self-designed system of programmable sequences, operating safety modules and independent operator stations, with visualization via WWW. The target client is a manufacturer of cabins for heavy equipment and tractors. The factory is located in the industrial zone of Balikesir in Turkey.

Business benefits 

  • New functionalities,
  • New user interface,
  • Developed backend of the application,
  • Better User Experience.

About the client 

Bystronic Laser AG – a leading global sheet metal processing technology company, offering laser and waterjet cutting systems as well as press brakes.

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