- Minister’s summer tour of the east German states to promote “Industry 4.0” initiative
- ThyssenKrupp prepares the way for the digitization of industrial production
- Presentation of “Big Data” project at Schönebeck automotive site
As part of his summer tour of the east German states, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel today visited ThyssenKrupp in Schönebeck in Saxony-Anhalt. He was able to gain an impression of the highly automated production processes, the innovativeness, and the standard of training available at the site. In Schönebeck ThyssenKrupp produces steering components for the international automotive industry. The theme of the press trip was “Industry 4.0”.
Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy: “The digitization of our economy is taking place not just in research institutions and start-up companies. It has long reached German industry. Since the beginning of 2013 almost 40 percent of Germany’s industrial companies have realized product or process innovations or introduced new business models that rely on the use of information and communication technologies. The automobile industry and its suppliers in particular have recognized that ever increasing network integration changes value-adding processes and creates new supply relationships and new business models. We are helping our business community exploit the potential of this digital revolution to increase prosperity and the quality of life for everyone.”
ThyssenKrupp is currently preparing the way for the digitization of production processes throughout the Group. The Group’s process landscape is being standardized and a common high-performance IT infrastructure with in-house data centers is being established worldwide.
The targeted digitization of the value-adding steps involves collecting, storing and processing large volumes of data from the production process. The plant in Schönebeck is part of a production network of altogether three locations on which ThyssenKrupp is carrying out a cross-plant “big data” analysis. Over 200 parameters from steering systems production and assembly are being recorded on an ongoing basis and stored in a uniform data format. Special software is then used to sort and analyze the huge mountain of data to uncover previously hidden patterns and unknown correlations between the various process steps.
“On the basis of this information we want to create predictive models with the help of which potential sources of error during production can be identified at the production planning stage. That will help us improve our quality standards and increase productivity in our plants,” says Patrick Vith, COO of ThyssenKrupp’s steering systems business.
Steering systems are among the most complex components in an automobile. The electric power-assisted steering systems developed by ThyssenKrupp are more energy-efficient than conventional hydraulic steering systems, allowing fuel savings of up to half a liter per hundred kilometers, depending on vehicle. They are also a prerequisite for many electronic driver assistance systems, such as park assist, lane assist and partly or fully automated driving.
The steering specialists from ThyssenKrupp are currently researching applications in autonomous driving. This year together with cooperation partners they successfully tested a fully autonomous car featuring ThyssenKrupp steering technology and software. The company has also developed a steer-by-wire system. Steer-by-wire systems have no direct mechanical link between the steering wheel and the car wheels but transmit the steering commands electronically. In the future these systems will facilitate a wide range of new steering and assist functions.
The Schönebeck site is part of a production network for steering systems. Steering components produced by the plant’s roughly 750 employees are assembled into modules before being sent to the company’s other sites in Germany and France for assembly into steering systems. During the visit Economy Minister Gabrial and Oliver Burkhard, CHRO of ThyssenKrupp, inaugurated a new training workshop at the company. Each year around 30 young people complete apprenticeships in commercial and engineering occupations at the plant in Schönebeck.
ThyssenKrupp is one of the world’s largest producers of steering columns and steering systems. The product spectrum extends from cold-forged components to complete mechanical, hydraulic and electric steering systems. In the steering systems segment ThyssenKrupp operates a total of 16 production and development sites in Germany, France, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Mexico, Brazilian, China and the USA, employing altogether around 6,500 people.