Meet our customer hero
Dürr has been a leader in mechanical engineering since Paul Dürr opened his first metal workshop in 1895 in Germany. Over the next century, the company became a global powerhouse in physical manufacturing and traditional automotive paint shop finishing. That’s why it’s remarkable just how deeply Dürr has embraced digital to rewrite the rules of its industry. And in doing so unlock new revenue streams.
The latest chapter of the story began when a major car manufacturer approached Dürr about adding streaming analytics to its already highly automated, robotic paint finishing lines.
“Our customer wanted a way to securely monitor the real-time production data from our robot painting stations, and to have a toolbox for their operational engineers to implement customized analysis and algorithms to improve production efficiencies,” says Dominik Vincenz, Product Owner DXQequipment.analytics, Dürr. “We didn't have a low code platform for powerful real-time anomaly detection. So we chose Software AG to codevelop them with us on the Cumulocity IoT platform.”
Building something completely new into the core product took more time than an add-on—but it was worth the effort. The strategic partnership provided Dürr’s customer with a solution to help the famously detail-oriented car manufacturer up its own game in precision painting. The system consists of an industrial PC located next to each robotic paint station which has an IIoT edge installation that can control all painting processes, monitor for defects and alert operators to customized triggers.
In the case of using pressured air to shape paint application, the impact on costs—not to mention CO2 and other sustainability goals—have been profound and powerful. The dozens of tiny air nozzles in the robotic applicator responsible for shaping the airflow get contaminated over time. Previously, this meant using fixed cleaning cycles whether or not a cleaning was even needed. It also meant the occasional contaminated paint run of multiple car bodies before the defect was spotted by a technician. “All those cars would have to be repainted,” says Vincenz, “and that costs time, money, energy and paint.”
Dürr’s new Cumulocity IoT system monitors and sends up to 10,000 signals per second back to the edge. These come from robots each equipped with a hundred or more sensors. Using self-service predictive maintenance and anomaly detection, air nozzles are now cleaned only when needed to prevent contamination. And defective paint runs due to contaminated shaping air nozzles no longer happen—because the new system detects such faults immediately.
The system is also used to detect paint dropouts, which occurs when air bubbles get into the painting system— and cars end up with missing patches of paint. Now, Dürr’s customer gets instant alerts. And when algorithms automatically detect a dropout, the robots stop, and technicians are sent descriptive error messages and suggestions for a fix.
Best of all, Dürr’s customer was able to create its own analytic models using the self-service system. And operational engineers didn’t need to code or be data scientists to use the full management capabilities as a secure adjunct to the main robot control for customer data analysis.
The real power of such a close codevelopment partnership is how a single customer request turned into multiple revenue streams—and the possibility for new innovations.
And that one customer became many.
“We’re talking about 88 painting stations around the world and growing daily, each with an average of around six robots per station, and around 600 cars being painted per day per line. That’s thousands of car bodies per month where we are a central part of maintaining paint quality,” says Vincenz. “Now that we have integrated this technology as a standard module in our product, it’s available to all of our paint stations and all of our customers.”
That’s a lot of customers and a lot of savings. Which not only benefits revenue directly, but has the potential to greatly improve brand perception for Dürr and its customers as ESG programs increasingly take center stage.
“This project definitely helped our digitalization of the whole painting line, and has extended our portfolio of digital products with a new powerful solution,” says Vincenz. “We can provide better solutions for better products. And make sure we’re helping the planet along the way.”
It all started with a single, clever idea. A little sweat. And a top team.