Volvo implements IoT Network creating smart factories and joining the industry-wide push. The Volvo Group Digital and IT team, develop a wireless IoT system, for Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGV’s) for predictive maintenance.
AGVs are now a staple in the engine-building business. Lowering costs and improving maintenance service, for all automobile manufacturers is a huge concern. Volvo is no different Volvo Group builds a number of different types of engines for large vehicles, such as trucks, boats, and industrial power systems.
The manufacture of these heavy and large engines relies a great deal on automation, in the form of AGVs, which carry the engines from station to station because human workers can’t. The AGV provides more flexibility in production, than a traditional fixed production line.
AGVs use 24V batteries, to operate, when the voltage falls below 22V, the AGV simply stops moving. This break in the production chain causes a disruption that leads to two engines per week being lost to production.
The Digital and IT team envisioned a wireless solution, with a predictive component, that could alert the maintenance team before the battery failed completely. They initially wanted to use Wi-Fi, but the Wi-Fi in the factory was being used for critical processes in the production line.
Instead, the team looked to LoRaWAN, and LPWAN, which were designed to connect battery-operated things to the internet for powering the large fleet of AGVs. The team installed LoRaWAN sensors on every AGV, to receive periodic voltage data on battery levels (<23V) or failures.
“Implementing a radio infrastructure in our factory was a challenge, and we wanted to have a LoRaWAN network connected directly to our secure Ethernet network to avoid any cloud dependence. So, we have selected a Multitech industrial grade LoRa Gateway, with some edge computing capabilities and robust cybersecurity features to successfully qualify it through an complete IT audit”, said Julien Bertolini, Principal Solution Architect IoTat Volvo Group Digital & IT.
This was all done at the Lyons, France, factory, and when completed included a LoRaWAN sensor on every AGV, a private LoRaWAN network, the maintenance platform on PTC Thingworx with the specific mobile application, and screens dispersed throughout the factory enabling real-time status of any AGV in the factory.
To find out more about the system, and the eventual addition of more sensors throughout the factory, for humidity and temperature, see the announcement at Volvo’s website here.
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