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“Joining Smart Technologies” automotive conference at Fronius

On May 8 and 9, Fronius hosted the sixth international automotive conference in Sattledt, Upper Austria. Alongside automotive engineering experts, the speakers included luminaries from the area of digitalisation, all of whom made the future of automotive manufacture in the digital revolution more tangible for those in attendance.

Digitalisation was the central topic for this year’s “Joining Smart Technologies” conference. Over a hundred delegates from ten countries used the conference to exchange their knowledge and experiences and appeared inspired by the high-quality presentations and networking opportunities.

Standardisation and Personalisation

At the start of the conference, Thomas Bauernhansl, Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation, gave his insights into the current state of automotive engineering within the digital revolution. His central theme was: Data in the factory of tomorrow. Data will play a key role, whether for standardised products or mass-produced products in the future, driverless taxis, or heavily customised cars for end customers. In relation to this, Bauernhansl primarily appealed directly to the conscience of businesses: “For machine learning, data is the raw material used to generate machine algorithms. The data quality therefore plays a decisive role for the entire process.”

The Smart Arc

Christian Kotschote, Technology Developer at Audi, reported on the potential for connectivity in the area of thermal welding, underlining that digital systems have the potential to increase the output of arc applications. To do so, all information needs to be made usable right along the entire process chain, including the steps before and after welding.

Following on from this point, Helmut Ennsbrunner, Head of Pre-Development at Fronius, set out what the digital transformation means from the perspective of a welding systems manufacturer. Ennsbrunner explained that digitalisation enables data to be reproduced without loss and exchanged with partners. This opens up new opportunities for collaboration: on one hand, automated machines should be able to work together more efficiently; on the other, information can be shared between suppliers, customers, and other partners, and used for new cooperative business models.

Teamwork with Robots

Martina Mara’s presentation also focused on cooperation: as a tech psychologist and Professor   of Robopsychology at Johannes Kepler University Linz Martina works predominantly with cooperation between humans and robots.

At the panel discussion, the conference leaders pointed out that the digital systems of the future should not only be able to support technical quality but also sustainable solutions

Christian Kotschote from Audi pointed out that connectivity in production can increase the output of welding processes

At the automotive conference, she stressed that being able to predict how machines will interact with humans is crucial in determining how efficiently human-machine teams will work together.

In the panel discussion that followed, Florian Oefele, Senior Manager Virtual Commissioning and Digitalisation Assembly at BMW, also placed humans at the centre of the digital revolution. Only openness, trust, and responsibility can enable us to exploit the opportunities offered by digitalisation. Michael Zürn, Senior Manager Process Engineering at Daimler, specified precisely where these opportunities lie: “Data helps us humans to master complexity and therefore to make better decisions more easily.” In the industrial environment this helps shorten production times and optimize costs and quality. Furthermore, representatives  of the OEMs took a look into the future and agreed that sustainability is gaining in significance. In the future, digital solutions like blockchain could also help to bring transparency to quality in terms of social aspects and sustainability.

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Fronius UK

Fronius UK, a subsidiary of Fronius International, provides the UK welding market with solutions for MIG/MAG, TIG, electrode, laser, plasma and resistance spot welding and automation. Its new state-of-the-art facility in Milton Keynes extends over 30,000m2 and houses the Tech Support team, the Repair Center, a warehouse and a training area and epitomises the importance of being able to deliver a first-class service to customers.

Fronius UK, a subsidiary of Fronius International, provides the UK welding market with solutions for MIG/MAG, TIG, electrode, laser, plasma and resistance spot welding and automation. Its new state-of-the-art facility in Milton Keynes extends over 30,000m2 and houses the Tech Support team, the Repair Center, a warehouse and a training area and epitomises the importance of being able to deliver a first-class service to customers.

Sales and service teams, both at head office and regionally, ensure that customers are supported as quickly as possible on their own premises. In addition, customers benefit from services such as calibration, a warranty extension and a maintenance contract.

For decades, Fronius has made significant contributions to advances in welding technology. The company is still in family ownership and its welding technology division is now one of the world’s technology leaders in the arc welding market segment. It is also the market leader in Europe.

Welding Technology is one of three Fronius divisions. Since the 1940s, Fronius has been creating technologies and solutions for monitoring and controlling energy in battery-charging systems, and since 1992 the same in solar electronics. The mains-connected inverter, the unique Fronius Service Partner programme and products for monitoring photovoltaic systems make Fronius one of the leading suppliers in the field of solar electronics.

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