The Internet of Things (IoT) allows for precise, real-time tracking of strategic equipment across a vast industrial site
Optimizing operations across vast workspaces
50km outside Paris, hangars extend as far as the eye can see over an area spanning 100 hectares – welcome to the Villaroche industrial site, located in the heart of the Seine-et-Marne department. It is here that Safran Aircraft Engines produces and assembles engines for the aviation and aerospace industry. The company has been in business since 1947 and, due to the nature of its business, the workspaces involved are immense. Villaroche, for example, is an assembly facility spanning no less than 55,000m2 – the equivalent of five-six football pitches.
“Individual tools are moved all around the workshop for use, to undergo checks or maintenance,” explains Céline Arini, Fixed Assets and Inventory Manager. “Assembly operations are complex; all tools must be available and locatable very quickly” to maintain the production flow. In addition to this, each of the nine assembly lines requires a specific set of tools to complete their work.
The Safran Aircraft Engines assembly workshop, therefore, needs to be equipped with a system capable of optimizing the management of its tool inventory and (for example) eliminating time wasted looking for specific tools.
The smart solution that makes tools easy to find
What if the Internet of Things (IoT) could provide a solution? It didn’t take Safran Aircraft Engines long to identify geolocation as the right solution for them. “We needed to optimize and improve the availability of tools across our assembly lines. We did our research and looked at all the available solutions. Orange Business Services was the supplier that met all our needs,” recalls Christophe Blayo, Manufacturing and Tool Management Manager.
The company landed on smart tracking, an IoT solution that enables precise monitoring of the movements and position of individual objects.
The smart tracking solution saves us a lot of time.
Céline Arini, Fixed Assets and Inventory Manager at Safran Aircraft Engines
A technical challenge met by the Orange Business Services team of experts
“Because of its metallic environment, the assembly building is a complicated environment in terms of geolocation,” explains Christophe Blayo. “We worked with Orange Business Services to take these constraints into account and find a solution that could achieve the level of precision we were looking for.”
The expert teams at Orange Business Services, which already manages over 21 million connected objects, are no strangers to this type of challenge. They installed over 25,000 trackers on the individual tools involved and deployed over 250 antennae at heights of over eight meters throughout the Safran Aircraft Engines production facilities.
“For smart tracking, we use a small yellow chip about three cm in diameter that we stick or attach to the tools. Then to search for these tools, we use a web interface accessible on all Safran computers. The location appears on a map of the workshop,” explains Médéric Bourdon, Project Manager for Production Methods.
Safran Aircraft Engines can now locate its tools accurately to within less than three meters.
100% satisfaction and fresh possibilities
“This solution saves us a lot of time,” confirms Céline Arini. With smart tracking, Safran Aircraft Engines has optimized the management and preventative maintenance of all its tools.
“You can see directly on the smart tracking software if a tool needs to go into maintenance,” notes Céline Arini. The maintenance department receives an alert and can easily pick up the tool in the workshop, because they can find it without any problem.”
The solution’s success has also opened the door to new ideas: “We’re now thinking about extending this solution to a wider scope,” confirms Christophe Blayo. Through the power of IoT, almost anything an industrial operator can imagine can be achieved.
To implement this solution, Orange Business Services called in the services of three technical partners: ELA Innovation, Quuppa and Ubisense.