Beyond Hardware: Unveiling the Power of Software and Digital Services in Industrial Machines

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Manufacturing firms today are asking their OEM machine builders for much more than traditional machines that output particular products at an acceptable, pre-defined rate. They seek the highest possible uptimes, excellent service, and flexible configuration. They want to achieve these production targets quickly and at the lowest possible cost. Machine users expect outcomes instead of outputs.

To address end-user expectations and compete, machine builders must radically optimize TCO while innovating consistently. Rapid machine deliveries are also mandatory despite the challenges of limited human resources.

The answer for effectively managing these challenges rests in digitization and an aggressive embrace of smart machine trends. By evolving with the times, machine builders can build competitiveness and position themselves to deliver comprehensive solutions instead of serial components.

The transformation to digital solutions requires design innovation and the integration of new technologies. In addition, machine builders must demonstrate high competence, flexibility, and dedicated software and robotics digitization know-how. Only then can the goal of rapidly delivering highly efficient, remotely serviceable, future-proof industrial machines be achieved.

A robotic arm assists with packaging of bottles in a manufacturing facility.
Automotion helps businesses transition from an OEM hardware-only focus to more software and services-based approach for their industrial machines.

Empowering OEMs with Cutting-Edge Digital Solutions for Industrial Machines

Organizations that undergo business transformation often require outside help and expertise to implement the changes necessary to remain competitive. That’s where companies like Automotion help to fill the gap.

Automotion, a Schneider Electric Alliance Master Machine Integrator and a Competence Center for Schneider Electric, supports OEMs by working in close partnership to co-create solutions, share knowledge, and add value by simplifying technological complexities. With facilities in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, the company serves OEMs locally and in areas where OEMs are exporting to their customers.

Through close partnership with the Automotion Competence Center, OEMs are educated on the business benefits of digitization and smart machine solutions. Automotion helps OEMs deliver tailored solutions and trains them to develop, integrate and implement the required technologies.

Automotion OEM clients achieve business transformation process success thanks to several factors. One is a close alliance with global industry leader Schneider Electric, which offers an ever-evolving suite of high-reliability automation technology hardware and software and a resilient supply chain for fast delivery. Focusing on open software innovation makes it easier for Automotion and its client OEMs to integrate solutions quickly at the device, industrial edge, and software and analysis levels. Combined with Automotion’s application and market expertise, machine builders can leverage the partnership to build a high level of trust with end users.

Most of the Automotion team of more than 35 people are hardware and software engineers and are new-generation robotics software experts. They help machine builders integrate the latest Schneider Electric robotics and motion control system solutions.

How alliance, software, and digital services offer total life cycle value to industrial machines

Automotion experts help ease the transition from an OEM hardware-only focus to a more software and services-based approach. The team has developed an innovative set of software tools that support all phases of the machine life cycle.

These Schneider Electric alliance-developed tools help reduce time-to-market. They provide end users with a machine solution with a lower cost of ownership and higher uptime. The tools enable OEMs to migrate to service-oriented business models that better support the end user and help OEMs generate new sources of revenue.

Listed below are several examples.

Design phase

  • Personnel who are not software experts can use Automotion’s embedded tool sets and software libraries. The libraries provide plug-and-play functionality, enable easy configuration, and include built-in diagnostics. The tools are also highly visual. Graphic depictions of the robots allow the technicians to test various robot movements visually to help fine-tune performance and conduct full mechanical checkups and tests. End users benefit because such tools enable OEMs to deliver machines to them faster, with fewer operational issues.

Commissioning phase

  • Automotion has developed PC-based software on top of its library structure, combined with surveillance cameras, which enable OEMs to avoid time-consuming and imprecise approaches to commissioning. Analysis of machine operation can now be primarily performed remotely instead of on-site.

    Should a glitch occur during testing, the software enables the OEM to troubleshoot with high speed and efficiency. The OEM can then optimize the ongoing performance with one software update. This approach cuts the required on-site presence from a matter of weeks to a matter of days. End users benefit from lower commissioning costs and a faster path to a production-ready machine.

Operations phase

  • The software-driven remote connection is a critical differentiator during industrial machine operation. End users can call the OEM and know that an expert, from a distance, can immediately analyze the situation without stopping the machine. The OEM also has the unique ability to look back in time to analyze what has occurred over the last several weeks with high accuracy. Once the expert performs the diagnosis, a software update can be delivered remotely to help rectify the situation. This allows the OEM to offer and charge for the premium support many end users require.

Maintenance phase

  • Today’s manufacturing end users want higher machine uptime. The embedded Automotion software tools enable OEMs to provide end users with quick answers to address breakdowns and accelerated responses to emerging issues.

    Software that generates video images, event tracking, and rapid data analysis empowers OEMs to offer end users a higher level of service. OEMs can also provide remote connectivity as another fee-based offering to ensure end users a more predictive approach to maintenance. Their end users then enjoy a higher level of service at a lower cost.

A value more significant than the sum of its parts

Collectively, these software tools help the end user to simultaneously lower the total cost of ownership while opening the door for OEMs to generate new service revenues. OEMs develop machines faster, more efficiently, and in a more profitable manner. End users enjoy rapid delivery of new machine assets and reduced downtime through service optimization.


To learn more about how Automotion and Schneider Electric can support your robotics and motion control modernization projects through consulting, education, and digital solutions, visit the Automotion website and the Schneider Electric robotics web page.

Automotion

Automotion has been actively supporting machine builders and system integrators for three decades in anticipating rapid advancements in technology. In today’s dynamic landscape, the pressure on machine builders to excel has never been greater. The era of ‘machine as a service’ and ‘software as a service’ offers limitless potential for automation. To bring these smart machines to life, we stand by our OEM customers throughout the machine’s entire lifecycle. From co-creation and providing essential tools to optimizing hardware packages, our commitment shines through in the design phase, system development, commissioning, and serviceability aspects, resulting in an optimized Total Cost of Ownership.

Schneider Electric Alliance Partner Program

Through the Schneider Electric Alliance Partner Program, we empower companies to develop new capabilities to better support the digital transformation of customers and work in partnership to strengthen business resiliency.

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