Faurecia improves supply chain visibility with Kepware IoT Gateway

Thursday April 07, 2016
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
Apr. 7, 2016 - Faurecia, an automotive equipment supplier, says it has implemented Kepware Technologies’ IoT Gateway for KEPServerEX to improve parts traceability throughout the entire manufacturing process — satisfying the needs of customers and internal stakeholders. With 330 sites including 30 R&D centres in 34 countries around the world, Faurecia is a global manufacturer of automotive seating, interior systems, automotive exteriors, and emissions control technologies.

Kepware is a software development company that was acquired by PTC this past January 2016.

The new IoT implementation began with requirements from automotive OEMs to improve traceability for the parts Faurecia was producing and to make that production data available on demand. For example, customers wanted to know which airbags were added to which cars, as well as detailed data characteristics about how each airbag was installed, including torque and angle of installation. Although the data for providing this traceability had always been available, the organization felt its solutions for collecting and distributing were not on par with the efficiency and scalability that can be achieved with today’s more modern IoT solutions and supporting architectures.

“In the modern age of manufacturing, data is king,” says Rafael Unruh, competence centre manager, Faurecia. “Consumers today have come to expect that they can get an update on a process at any time without the need for human interaction or intervention, and the same is true for our customers. We realized that we needed to provide greater transparency into our processes and products, so that our customers can plan and react accordingly and improve their own efficiencies.”

Realizing that connectivity, data access, and scalability would be essential, Faurecia set out to find a communication solution that could connect to the various PLCs on the factory floor. After experimenting with the product of a well-known OPC server provider, the company found that it was unreliable and resulted in lost data and server overloads. Faurecia turned to Kepware’s flagship connectivity platform, KEPServerEX, and began a pilot project in their Porto Real, Brazil, factory.

After learning more about Faurecia’s goals, Kepware representatives were able to recommend that Faurecia implement the REST Server Agent in the IoT Gateway for KEPServerEX, which was released to market in October 2015. The developers working on Faurecia’s MES were already comfortable with REST/HTTP (protocols ubiquitous in IT and on the web, and used in Internet of Things platforms) and were excited about the new middleware language that used KEPServerEX connections they already had in place.

Faurecia has a local server in each plant running its proprietary MES, IJ Core. Using the IoT Gateway, the company began collecting data from the shop floor and communicating it to IJ Core over REST/HTTP. IJ Core was then able to store that information, satisfying customer requests for traceability spanning several years.

Since implementing the IoT Gateway, Faurecia says it is able to provide customers with the product traceability they require. Increased supply chain visibility enables these global automotive OEMs to satisfy regulatory requirements and improve overall product quality for consumers.

Internal stakeholders are benefiting as well, says Faurecia, as “operators on the machine floor note that communications are much faster, and the Quality Assurance department has the industrial data they need in order to analyze production quality.” Additionally, executives in Faurecia’s boardroom can now access and leverage operations data to boost efficiencies across the organization.

Given the success of the Brazil pilot, Faurecia plans to standardize on Kepware in its North American, Asian, and European factories in 2016.

“We see huge potential with the IoT Gateway and are excited to deploy it across the 34 countries we operate in,” says Unruh. “We’re seeing benefits from this implementation from the boardroom down to the shop floor, and only expect them to increase as more locations utilize it. We’re able to be smarter and more nimble in our decision making, which leads to better products and services for our customers.”

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