Importing 4.0 to U.S.
For Hebron-based Desma USA, bringing these theories to the U.S. is made simpler by the fact it is the North American subsidiary for German firm Klockner DESMA Elastomertechnik GmbH.
Desma USA President Scott Early said the firm believes its customers eventually are going to ask how to connect Desma machines to their networks. "And then they'll ask how our machines connected to their network can connect to our customer service department to help them maintain high degrees of uptime and productivity," he said.
That is where Desma's SmartConnect 4.U platform products comes into play. The platform, Desma said, intelligently networks machines, components, applications and systems.
Early said the German parent company already has done a road show to visit customers throughout Europe to demonstrate the SmartConnect device, and has more than 75 units installed on the continent with some key customers.
"We would go install this in the customer's factory, plug in a couple wires, and demonstrate to the customers out in the parking lot how connected we were to their machines," he said. "It showed how powerful that is for us to be able to connect to the press for remote troubleshooting and for servicing of equipment."
The Desma USA officials know they have a job to educate potential customers in the U.S. about the benefits of the SmartConnect platform. Early said there are various modules to choose from, ranging from full connectivity to the more entry level Remos product.
"(Remos) is kind of a baby step with SmartConnect," Early said. "It's a way for us to connect to a machine. When you want to take a bigger step, you need one of the SmartConnect devices because there's so much information being shared back and forth from our press and sensors on the machine."
Ackerman added there is training to get everybody up to speed on the software platforms, the capabilities, tracking and inputting, and customizing information. "The varying degrees of that interface depends on all the modules that you want to implement," he said. "There could be 20 different modules that you can pick from, and you can start with only three to four of those that relate only to parts and documentation and lower-level items. Or you can get into some pretty sophisticated ones."
Each customer would have a central hub that could be connected to multiple machines, Ackerman said. The hub would house all data and modules, and is accessible in real time.
Desma USA first started promoting SmartConnect at last fall's ACS Rubber Division Rubber Expo in Pittsburgh, but has sold some of the Remos products before to be used for remote maintenance.
Early said the goals for SmartConnect depend on what interest they find in the market.
"Our goal as a supplier is to make sure we demonstrate capability, so when customers are looking for our machines to connect to the network, or us to provide some remote capability, we're on the front end of that curve," he said. "And our digital services division in Germany is spending a lot of energy to develop various apps, SmartConnect and the Remos device, so when the demand grows in the market for that, we can answer it."
Ackerman said the top customers run a high degree of analytics, and SmartConnect will enable them to trace a part through its lifecycle. "Once a part has been molded, and it's in its lifecycle for two to three years in operation, it's a very powerful tool to take that part and to trace it exactly to when it was molded, how it was molded and what the parameters were," he said. "That's one of the biggest things this Smart Connect device will allow them to do."