SUN, DATA, AND THE SMART FACTORY.
INDUSTRY 4.0 IN THE FACTORY HALL AND SOLAR PANELS ON THE ROOF: DEUTZ’S SPANISH SUBSIDIARY IN ZAFRA IS RAISING THE BAR WHEN IT COMES TO EFFICIENCY, SUSTAINABILITY, AND THE USE OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. Drive into the staff parking lot at DEUTZ Spain in the small town of Zafra and you might not even notice anything unusual. But look a little closer and you’ll see that the panels providing shade there now double as a photovoltaic facility for generating power. These solar cells are capable of producing almost 1,300 mega-watt hours a year. The panels span not just the staff parking lot but also parts of the roof of the factory hall. When fully operational from summer 2021 after four months of construction, they will cut CO2 emissions by 255 tons every year – equivalent to 17,000 trees.
“We enjoy many hours of sunshine here in Extremadura, which means we have ideal conditions for using solar energy,” says Eugenio Serrano Ylleras, CEO of DEUTZ SPAIN. The project was conceived together with a power company that designed the system, will operate and maintain it, and also provided the funding. The energy generated covers around 6 percent of the manufacturing and assembly plant’s current requirements. It also supplies the DEUTZ business school with green electricity. “We purchase the solar power at a fixed market price,” explains Serrano. “After twelve years, we will then take full ownership of the facility.” Over the lifetime of the project, he expects to save around €1 million in energy costs.
Pilot Project for the Smart Factory
DEUTZ SPAIN is also looking to the future inside the plant, where a new smart factory for connecting rods is taking the subsidiary’s efficiency to the next level. Just over €3.7 million ware invested in this new, ultrahigh-tech production line, capable of producing up to 600,000 connecting rods a year for DEUTZ’s 2.2, 2.9, and 3.6 engine series. “We are playing to the strengths of Industry 4.0 in the design of the new production line,” says Fernando Angulo, head of the center of excellence for mechanical fabrication at DEUTZ. The system of self-managed cells was introduced in 2020. “And that’s just the start,” says Angulo. “Our goal is a connecting-rod manufacturing cell that can use advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to monitor itself in real time.”
In order to maximize the benefit from the sensor-rich smart factory, DEUTZ is digitizing many previously paper-based processes and using IT to connect them. This enhances quality, improves traceability, and enables predictive maintenance. “We are already working on big-data solutions to create value by leveraging all this new information that we are gaining,” explains Angulo. For customers, the smart factory with its collaborative robots means that they can now expect even greater precision, reliability, and flexibility.
“We can change the type of connecting rod being machined with a simple command, modifying the required tooling in a matter of minutes. This eliminates what would otherwise be a costly set-up process,” says Angulo. Three connecting rods can now be machined in parallel. Production times in this line have been reduced by nearly one third – with one cycle lasting just 25 seconds. According to Angulo, “it’s a fully autonomous process, where the worker only intervenes in the final stages of assembly and packaging.”
The connecting-rod pilot project shows the direction in which DEUTZ SPAIN is heading: “The smart factory is the future,” says Angulo. “It will revolutionize how we manage production. For us, it’s the ticket to ride the high-speed Industry 4.0 train.”