We also develop software!
Do you remember when production started being digitalised in the nineties? 1998 is a very memorable year for us at Brütsch/Rüegger Tools, as this was when we published our product range in electronic form for the first time. The CD-ROM shop made it easier for our customers to search for products and then made it possible to place orders automatically — a need that had arisen from greater use of the Internet.
Our passion for reducing the costs of procuring indirect goods for manufacturing companies and creating new added value continues to this day. The change in technological "readiness" is gradually bringing forth new customer requirements, which we would like to fulfil in the best way possible by employing solutions that are based on the latest state-of-the-art technology.
We reached a milestone in 2010 with the launch of the ToolBox tool storage and retrieval system. Just three years later, we started a new line of business to provide manufacturing companies with additional support for their digital challenges. Martin Wirth, Managing Director at Brütsch/Rüegger Tools, looks back at this time: "Driven by the needs and challenges of customers in the context of digitalisation, we decided to design Jellix, the IIoT platform." This proved to be the right decision as it has borne further fruit, such as the customisable Hive Digital Suite.
Founded in 2012 with a single employee, the Industrial Solutions team at Brütsch/Rüegger Tools now consists of seven project managers. They work alongside 11 software developers from our partner company Stemys, meaning nearly 20 people deal with digitalisation topics for manufacturing companies every day. Since 2017, the new SmartFactory training facility in Urdorf has also been focusing on Industry 4.0.
As a local provider, Brütsch/Rüegger Tools offers a unique portfolio of software solutions for manufacturing companies: The standard modules of the Hive Digital Suite, developed according to customer needs, coupled with the possibility of adapting them to individual circumstances. The potential benefits of digital technologies are thereby enhanced for and together with the customer in order to eliminate inefficiencies. As well as developing and implementing digitalisation projects, the Industrial Solutions department also performs market analyses.
From tool management to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
Back to the ToolBox system. The first ToolBoxes were installed at customers' premises in 2010, bringing them a step closer to Industry 4.0. "We realised at the time that manufacturing companies had a growing need for digital solutions," recalls Olaf Sprich, Head of Sales at Brütsch/Rüegger Tools. The possibilities in memory and data processing technology at that time made it possible to automate and digitally network manual tool output. Enormous potential opened up. Today, well over 100 customers use the ToolBox system.
But a networked tool management system only covered one component of the digital backbone behind an intelligent factory. New software e-tools had to be developed to achieve an improvement in other areas, such as measuring technology, assembly technology and production technology. In addition, there was no comprehensive platform that integrated the machines, production equipment and software tools used in the different company divisions. As a logical consequence of these issues, the team in Urdorf decided to build an open IIoT solution in 2013.
Strongly driven by customer needs
The headline in 2015 was: "140-year-old traditional company enters into partnership with start-up." While the collaboration with Stemys may have been challenging to begin with, it has turned out to be a success story that continues to this day. Thanks to the expertise it has built up, Brütsch/Rüegger Tools has successfully positioned itself on the market as a digital application provider with broad project experience.
The development roadmap has always been driven by customer needs. Raphael Müller, Head of Industrial Solutions at Brütsch/Rüegger Tools: "We know the challenges that manufacturing companies face. Together with our customers, we develop scenarios and devise solutions to digitalise processes in order to eliminate inefficiencies." Martin Wirth adds: "We leverage the potential benefits of digital technologies and generate sustainable and measurable added value for our customers."
Fully au fait with the latest technologies
The innovators at Industrial Solutions never rest on their laurels. The team is currently evaluating the use of artificial intelligence on the shop floor and is investigating the context in which it could be used. For example, there is the potential to use video cameras for smart image recognition to increase the quality of the manufactured parts (quality assurance robotics) or control loop measurement data to automate machine corrections (auto-correction).
Artificial intelligence could also be used to analyse the causes of machine downtimes in order to better predict or control them. Experience parameters would help to predict process events and notify users about them as early as possible. This scenario would enable the overall efficiency of production environments to optimised even further.