PSI Logistics develops IT Basics for Research Project "LandLeuchten"

by Hans Diederichs

In April of 2014, Schuler delivered the first 400-ton MSD 400 servo press to Alzner Automotive in the town of Grafenau, located near Stuttgart. An order for an MSD 250 came under one year later, followed by another MSD 400, an MSD 630, and a 500-ton hydraulic HPX press ordered in between. A second 630-ton machine was ordered in July of last year, and an order for a second HPX 500 in late 2019 brought the total to an incredible seven Schuler presses in a span of just five and half years.

In addition, Alzner Automotive is equipping the presses with the IIoT connector from Schuler. This allows the operating status of the lines to be called up from anywhere and at any time. The password-protected portal "mySchuler" also provides information about the running die, the current stroke rate, the press force, and the lubrication and cooling circuits, among other things. In this way, possible deviations can be detected early and eliminated quickly. The automotive supplier is also considering the purchase of Schuler's camera-supported monitoring system for dies ("Visual Die Protection").

“At the time, both of us were looking for someone, and we managed to find each other,” says Managing Director Hans-Martin Tekeser with a grin as he recalls the early days of his relationship with Schuler. “Since then, we haven’t run into any noticeable problems with the presses, and that’s a solid indicator of the high level of quality provided by Schuler. They also provide a great cost-benefit ratio for us.” Another important factor for Tekeser is service flexibility: “We can’t afford a situation where a machine sits idle for three or four weeks at a time, which was the case with one of our presses from another manufacturer.”

The company has grown tremendously since 2013, in no small part thanks to its Schuler systems. “We’re still producing right up to our limits, and we don’t have much extra capacity,” notes Tekeser—even though Alzner Automotive was able to double its production volume using a special die for the 630-ton transfer press, for example.

Shift towards electromobility boosts orders

The thriving business at Alzner is being fueled by the shift towards electromobility. For other suppliers, it’s a legitimate reason to worry about losing their customers. But Alzner Automotive isn’t feeling any market slowdown—on the contrary: The company is generating one new order after another. Tekeser adds: “We’re getting a lot of business in electromobility, both from our existing customers and from new ones.”

Whether it’s mechanical components for battery cells and engines, or safety-critical reinforcing panels, the list of potential products in this segment is extremely diverse. “Customers are focusing more and more on price, “ explains Tekeser. “This means that the press pretty much has to spit the finished parts out bam, bam, bam—one after another. It’s also why we talk to the auto manufacturers about how parts can be designed more efficiently, for example by using a sheet of metal instead of a tube shape as starting material. This is where our physical proximity and practical approach to getting the job done are extremely beneficial.”

To handle the volume and level of precision demanded, Tekeser not only hired additional employees; he also invested in presses and automation, noting: “You can’t meet the demand with manpower alone.” The company is currently in the process of implementing an automated high-bay storage system for dies.

Shop capacity doubled to two hectares

Over the past five years, Alzner Automotive has doubled its physical shop capacity to a total of two hectares. When the most recent plans for expansion encountered delays, Schuler simply placed Alzner’s first 630-ton press into storage for six months until local authorities in Grafenau finally gave the green light. Another 7 500 square meters of space have been added in the fall of 2019.

Aside from his wife, Tekeser’s daughter now also works full-time at the company, with his son on track to join the business soon as well.

Source and photo: Schuler AG

As part of the "LandLeuchten" research project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, PSI Logistics GmbH develops the necessary IT basics. For transport control, the transport management system PSItms is being expanded to include AI-based functions for route-optimized and autonomous driving.

The central solution component of the research project includes the conception and implementation of regional delivery and personal or transport services with autonomous means of transport and coordinating information service (central logistics).

In terms of hardware, a further development of the e.GO Mover from eGo Mobile AG is used. The complete transport control such as planning, implementation and billing is based on the transport management system PSItms from the PSI Logistics Suite. In this research project, PSItms is expanded to include basic services for process control in electro-mobile and autonomous driving.

In addition to the development of a software backend for the flexible integration of new services and a cloud server for project-related mobility apps, the focus is on creating a framework. This is used to merge data, analyze it using methods and procedures of artificial intelligence (AI) and optimize it continuously.

“The prototype organizes transport vehicles optimally for routes. This experience is very valuable for practical autonomous vehicle mobility under logistic requirements with such complexity,” summarizes Dr. Giovanni Prestifilippo, managing director of PSI Logistics. Further project partners are, next to PSI Logistics, eGo Mobile AG and eGo Digital GmbH, the Innoloft GmbH, RWTH Aachen University and the Birkenfeld Environment Campus.

Source and photo: PSI Software AG

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