Technology Record - Issue 26: Autumn 2022

156 V I EWPO I NT A combination of the internet of things, manufacturing execution systems and Microsoft Azure can transform the modern manufacturing IT landscape S E BA S T I AN WÄ S CH L E : D I EH L ME T E R I NG Simplifying the system landscape For some time now, production experts have observed that the functions of industrial internet of things (IIoT) platforms and manufacturing execution systems (MES) – software that tracks the process from raw materials to finished goods – are increasingly overlapping. Users must find the right building blocks from over 400 available solutions. With an existing system landscape, the selection becomes a Herculean task. Diehl Metering – which belongs to the Diehl Group – also faced the problem of operating with a heterogeneous solution architecture. The company employs around 1,600 staff members at seven locations worldwide and manufactures water, thermal energy, gas and electricity metering devices. As an internationally active company in a volatile market with increasing product variance, Diehl Metering requires flexible development of assembly capacities and shortened lead times to deliver operational excellence. Having analysed the shop floor IT landscape, an interdisciplinary team found that these sites used more than 30 software solutions with MES functionalities. The diversity of solutions made it difficult to set up flexible production capacities. The challenge for Diehl Metering was therefore to completely reorganise the existing IT landscape while keeping investments and timelines within a competitive framework. The goal was to be able to assemble any product semi-automatically at any location. We decided to address these challenges with a global MES-IIoT strategy, with the goal of harmonising the internationally distributed system landscape and maintaining the competitive core functionalities through specialised MES solutions. We first established the functional requirements for an MES and recorded the currently used solutions in an IT landscape analysis. We decided on a best-of-breed solution in each of the various manufacturing styles and the team then specified which of the 10 MES function modules were core or additional. Core functions are considered absolutely necessary for production so should be retained locally in the MES of the respective manufacturing segment. Additional functions, on the other hand, must be harmonised across all sites and manufacturing segments, and should be implemented in the future based on Microsoft Azure services. To bring this to life, Diehl Metering has introduced the Manufacturing Data Platform built on Azure. It enables us to flexibly process, store and display data from the relevant systems. As a result, we have been able to With Azure, we were able to implement a modern solution architecture that was customised just for us”