Schaeffler and IBM enter strategic partnership

24 November 2016

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Schaeffler and IBM enter strategic partnership As part of its ’Mobility for tomorrow’ strategy, Schaeffler is digitising its entire organisation. With IBM as its strategic partner, Schaeffler is creating a digital platform for processing large volumes of data, generating valuable insights that will transform its operations. The resulting Schaeffler Cloud is now available for the first user cases and applications.

Schaeffler has chosen IBM as its strategic partner for its digital transformation. IBM will act as the technology provider, consultant and development partner for a digital ecosystem to support Schaeffler in the integration of its mechatronics components, systems and machines into the rapidly expanding world of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), as well as implementing new, market-ready business models based on digital services. As a first milestone, the two companies have built a digital platform for all of Schaeffler’s added-value digital services from October 2016.

Schaeffler is working closely with IBM to develop innovative systems for Schaeffler’s own transformation and for customers using design thinking and agile development methodologies. An open, digital ecosystem is being built to form an environment in which Schaeffler can work smoothly with its customers and partners, with the digital platform as the technical foundation.

Prof. Peter Gutzmer, Deputy CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Schaeffler AG, says: “We are constantly working to offer significant added value for our customers. Our aim is to connect data from across products and processes. Using analytics we turn this primary data into valuable insight, which is used to increase the efficiency of our operations and develop innovative services for our customers. We are very pleased to have found the ideal partner with IBM.”

Gerhard Baum, Chief Digital Officer of Schaeffler, comments on the company’s approach to digital transformation: “We are concentrating on expanding the integration of sensors into our existing products, as well as developing new products with integrated cognitive software. Not only will the machines and transport infrastructure within the production environment at Schaeffler be connected, but individual plants will also be digitally linked to the whole supply chain. At Schaeffler, we want to digitally optimise processes and procedures as well as create new service-oriented processes, and thus drive the digital interaction between people and IT systems.”

Ivo Koerner, Board Member Sales, IBM Germany says: “The joint implementation of Schaeffler’s digital agenda is the perfect fit to leverage and promote our new cognitive IoT capabilities for the manufacturing sector.” The base will be a global, hybrid cloud infrastructure using IBM’s application platform ‘Bluemix’ with Watson IoT to create differentiating applications and mobile apps for the Internet of Things.

Schaeffler’s components such as bearings or clutch release systems are used in important parts of machines and vehicles that produce critical information about conditions and movements. Schaeffler has put significant investment into research and development in recent years and has incorporated sensors, actuators and control units with embedded software into these products. With this, it is now possible for these parts to collect and process valuable data on the condition of a machine and then convert this data into added-value services.

During the first phase, the partnership will focus on:

Optimising maintenance in the wind energy sector:

Schaeffler is an important player in the renewables industry producing huge bearings that help turbines to spin freely. Replacing these bearings is complicated and expensive as it results in downtime and lost energy. Through the new agreement, IBM and Schaeffler will explore how machine learning can reveal additional insights about the performance of equipment in different operating conditions. Sensors in the equipment and even in the bearings themselves will report on the actual condition of components in real time. Using wind forecasts from the Weather Company (an IBM company), turbine operators will be able to plan ahead and replace parts during less windy periods.

Digital monitoring and optimisation of trains:

With many decades of experience in the railway sector, Schaeffler works closely with rail manufacturers and operators providing bearings and other parts for any application in passenger trains and freight vehicles. Using cognitive insights from the Cloud, Schaeffler will enhance its predictive maintenance systems for railways, helping to increase efficiency and safety. Smart bearings will be able to measure their own vibration, temperature, torque and speed, triggering alerts and informing railway operators about possible safety issues.

Connected vehicles:

Schaeffler is leading the way in the development and manufacturing of products for engine, transmission and chassis applications. New technologies will allow Schaeffler to extend the functionality and lifespan of components for the automotive industry. Real time analytics and cognitive systems will turn data from components and systems into valuable insights that can be used by manufacturers to increase the reliability of cars and offer new value-added services to customers.

Industry 4.0 for machine tools:

IBM’s cognitive technologies will support Schaeffler’s Industry 4.0 strategy for machine tools, helping to improve overall equipment efficiency (OEE). This includes the optimisation of production processes, real time analysis of data and context-driven maintenance, networking and optimisation of multiple machines within a production line. The objective is to continuously optimise production and the supply chain. The focus is on internal optimisation to increase efficiency and to leverage this for the creation of new service offerings for customers and partners.

Connected Equipment Operations Centre:

Experts are monitoring the condition of thousands of machines and pieces of equipment on and off site. Big Data is transmitted to the Operation Centre and processed in the Schaeffler Cloud. Algorithms and cognitive approaches will analyse data helping to make predictions about machine performance and create opportunities for optimisation. Irregularities and potential faults are automatically identified and corresponding actions rapidly initiated.

For more information about the Schaeffler Cloud please visit

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