The importance of a well-functioning and flexible digital infrastructure in dynamic production environment: Case study Scania

In this article we will get an overview of how the truck manufacturer Scania is developing their digital infrastructure of their smart factories.

In the article "Digital infrastructure" we described the basics of a digital infrastructure in production. In this article, through the case study Scania, we will describe the importance of a well-functioning and flexible digital infrastructure in practice.

Scania's trucks consist of approximately 25,000 articles and are built on a system of modules, which makes it possible to create almost endless variations, combinations and customizations. This system allows Scania to create up to 1026 product variants. On this, Scania also makes about 15,000 updates to the design of its products on 48 different occasions each year. These 15,000 design changes, in turn, mean that about 30,000 changes must be made to the production process each year, in addition to the need for the production process to be able to handle different versions of the same product.

These conditions place great demands on the information flow between product development and production. It is important that the right information comes to the right person at the right time is a prerequisite for being able to handle this dynamic production environment. This turn the highlights the importance of having a well-functioning and flexible digital infrastructure, which enables information transfer between people, machines and IT systems and creates the conditions for the right product to get through the production flow in the right time with the right quality.

One way to deal with these types of complexity in production processes is to use a so-called digital twin in the preparation of the production process. In this case, a digital twin is a collection of integrated IT systems, which allow to reflect the actual product and production system. By using a digital twin, Scania can create a good understanding in the event of collisions between newly constructed articles and the current production system. These collisions may mean that current tools in production are incompatible with the new design or that the new design prevents the operator from performing a certain step in the assembly process. Gathering all this information into a digital twin helps Scania create insight before a new design goes into production and gives Scania the opportunity for a proactive approach.

Creating such an advanced technical solution, such as a digital twin that links product development with the production process, requires many factors to interact. To make this work, it requires well-structured standards, approaches and interfaces between different systems, which in turn enable IT systems to move from technologically isolated islands to digital dynamically distributed and interplayed ecosystems. Creating this interaction is something that Scania, KTH and RISE have worked with in the DigIn project, which you can read more about here.


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This article is categorised as Intermediate  |  Published 2020-04-17  |  Authored by Victor Centerholt