The networking of individual vehicles or machines increases the efficiency in mobility and industry. Schaeffler utilizes its expertise to put digital technologies from the laboratory on the road or into production.
Higher, faster, further. Schaeffler components contribute to the highest technological performance. In tomorrow’s world, however, not only conventional records will count, but also sustainability and efficiency. Digital solutions from Schaeffler can make a significant contribution to this. They already enable us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in road traffic, to generate green electricity using water or wind power more cost-effectively, or to make particularly economical use of fertilizers. Schaeffler engineers use their systems expertise to break records in efficiency as the new supreme discipline. Such records can only be achieved through continuous digitalization and networking.
Regardless of where and how people will be in motion in the future, four basic trends can be observed. Efficient energy use will be decisive for the acceptance of drives. Intermodal transport in networked infrastructures will become increasingly important in urban centers. At the same time, traffic between the world’s economic centers will increase, requiring measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Ultimately, we will no longer ignore where the energy for our mobility comes from. Instead, the focus will shift to the entire energy chain. Schaeffler is already an important solution provider in all four fields. Digitalization is becoming increasingly important, for instance, in enabling hybrid vehicles to utilize the available battery power more efficiently based on precise information about the route ahead.
Less material, less energy – but increased productivity. This is one of the hopes associated with the guiding principle of digitally interconnected “Industry 4.0”. “Predictive maintenance” plays an important role in increasing productivity. This term refers to machines with continuous self-monitoring systems that prevent unplanned downtimes and significantly reduce retooling times. Schaeffler has developed a holistic concept for machine drives with the ability to look to the future and will be presenting the system as a whole for the first time at the 2016 Hannover Messe. The use of this concept is not limited to production facilities, it is likewise interesting for all market sectors in which high and alternating loads occur. Wind turbines and rail vehicles, for example, can also benefit from self-monitoring drives.
One and one can make more than two. Regardless of whether the task is to generate power using a “smart grid” or to implement manufacturing processes that adapt to the current order situation in real time in a “smart factory” – maximum efficiency can only be achieved through digital networking. Schaeffler already offers solutions for a large number of applications. This is only the beginning of an increasingly smart future.
Schaeffler is consistently pursuing a path towards digitalized manufacturing with Machine tool 4.0. The data gathered are evaluated both locally and in a Schaeffler cloud so that the results can be forwarded to the relevant locations on site.
The opportunities for digitalization are not limited to manufacturing machines. The production environment also benefits from a continuous flow of data in the value stream chain.
Schaeffler also demonstrates its expertise under demanding conditions in motorsport. The mobility supplier has been successfully involved in Formula E since its inaugural season. As an exclusive technology partner of the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport Team, the company is responsible for the drive train of the “ABT Schaeffler FE01”.
By putting its electromechanical active roll control system into volume production, Schaeffler started a new chapter in the history of chassis technology. The technology adapts the chassis application to any driving situation extremely quickly, absorbs irregularities in the road’s surface, and thereby minimizes the vehicle’s rolling motion. This increases comfort, safety, and driving dynamics. This innovation helps to reduce fuel consumption and emissions compared to hydraulic systems and helps simplify assembly in the manufacturing plants of the automobile manufacturer.
The electromechanical active roll control system was used for its volume-production debut in a top-of-the-range sedan as well as in the powerful and dynamic luxury SUV class with a 48-volt electric system. The Schaeffler electromechanical active roll control system comprises a gearbox, control motor with an electronic system, and an integrated torque sensor. The control motor with its high-ratio, three-stage planetary gearbox rotates the two halves of the roll control in opposite directions and generates torque, which has a stabilizing effect on the vehicle body. The torque is measured precisely with the help of a non-contact torque sensor and used to ensure the fast and precise control of the actuator.
Intelligent sensors and bearings make it possible for important machine or equipment operating conditions to be measured and the corresponding data supplied to the control unit. This condition monitoring plays a central role on the path towards “Industrie 4.0.” In this way, maintenance operation costs can be reduced and the availability of wind turbines, for example, can be increased.
Another aspect is the adjustment of the maintenance cycles to match the actual wear. Schaeffler provides the information required for this purpose using its condition monitoring systems, such as monitoring the condition of the bearing’s lubricant. If the system detects parameters that are becoming critical, it sends an impulse to a lubricator and initiates relubrication.
A new feature in connection with “Industrie 4.0” is the automatic feedback about whether the critical condition is rectified after lubrication has been completed. If this is not the case, an automatic response can be initiated depending on the programmed strategy. This can range from a reduction of the rotational speed to an analysis of the lubricant.
The agricultural industry faces the challenge of obtaining larger harvests from the available land because the world only has a limited amount of usable agricultural land. This is why Schaeffler is developing intelligent agricultural engineering solutions that allow arable land to be cultivated in a targeted manner. This "precision farming" increases the yield and helps to protect the environment at the same time.
In the future, tractors will not only pull machinery – they will also be controlled by intelligent accessory equipment. The FAG torque measurement module, for example, measures the fertilizer flow in direct proximity to the spreading process. This makes it possible to put out exactly the quantity of fertilizer that is required at that moment.
Intelligent agricultural solutions can therefore make a significant contribution towards ensuring a sustainable supply of food for the world's population. In Europe and North America, where agriculture is already mechanized to a large extent, the advantages of these smart technologies are already paying off.