Production assistance systems for a simple transition to Industry 4.0 processes
Wooded hills, a stream babbling through the meadows, with a traditional Black Forest farmstead in the middle of the scene. Take a look out the window at Comara, and you're more likely to think of a holiday or an organic food brand than Industry 4.0. From this rural idyll in the Black Forest, a good 10,000 digitisation solutions from Comara have already found their way into the global machining industry. They provide a transparent insight into what actually goes on in machining equipment. This allows production managers and planners, machine operators and managing directors of metalworking companies to identify in real time how they can optimise their machinery.
Founded 14 years ago to develop software for the rapidly electronifying machining equipment market, Comara GmbH now offers a straightforward plug and play solution to simplify the transition to Industry 4.0 processes. Ever since Walter, the Tübingen-based machining expert, joined the software company in 2016, Comara now has a partner which can even more rapidly exploit the market potential for Industry 4.0 solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Over 10,000 Comara solutions installed around the world, including around 500 Comara appCom application platforms, as well as double-digit annual growth, speak for themselves.
Demand for these digital assistance systems is high from machining companies, machine manufacturers and machine dealers. “Many mechanical engineers are reluctant to establish their own software development departments. The machine control systems and applications are simply too different. Comara's team is ideally placed for managing the balancing act between mechanical engineering and software. On the one hand, experienced app and software developers are employed in St. Georgen, while on the other hand, the company itself has its origins in the mechanical engineering and machining industry,” stated Holger Langhans, Managing Director of Comara. Machine manufacturers are able to simply extend their product range with the addition of a functional Industry 4.0 solution that yields quick results.
Plug and play solution: Productive on the very same day
The industry is facing major changes due to the huge leaps that have been made over the past few years in the capacity to collect and process data. Every production hall contains machine tools which produce and process data. Comara's all-encompassing approach makes it possible to view and evaluate machine and process data in real time.
Boris Turalija, Sales Manager at Comara, described the sales strategy as follows: "Industry 4.0 has been problematic for many managers in SMEs for some time now, specifically because it is usually tailored to large structures and groups. By contrast, we take a gradual approach at Comara. The customer starts with a solution that is manageable for them. We then work together to further develop this. We demonstrate what is possible at this stage and what works well, especially for small metalworking companies."
For example, it is possible to install and configure a Comara appCom system in less than an hour. The production monitoring platform consists of two components: A PC, which is installed in the machines and integrated into the control system, and the associated software, which analyses and displays data. All important parameters, reports and monitoring data are processed so that they are displayed clearly and are easy to understand. The data, which is collected in real time, therefore always remains in the company's network; even Comara cannot access it. Comara appCom is open, non-proprietary and can be used regardless of device. Company or machine-specific applications can also be added to it with ease. Comara is working on new apps and also helps customers develop tailored solutions. Another production assistance system – Comara iCut – adjusts the feed of the machining program to the actual conditions in real time.
Practical solutions keep up with the times
"We offer support to customers from various industries as they go through the digital transformation, and we provide practical solutions. When we are talking to customers, they often tell us that our products keep up with the times. Virtually all customers presented with our Comara appCom software platform are interested in having it installed," reported Holger Langhans.
He added, "At Comara, we know what people mean when they talk about the digitisation of production processes. Since 2004, the team has been developing innovative software solutions for the metalworking industry. With Walter AG behind us, we also have a partner with considerable engineering expertise. This guarantees that we remain aware of the daily realities in a machining company, but at the same time Comara embodies the spirit of a start-up. And here there is no-one who argues "That's the way we've always done things!" There is no tough attitude like you encounter in larger organisations. Even as a visitor, this is apparent both from the informal atmosphere in the offices, and from company's unconstrained growth. The company's 17 members of staff are rapidly outgrowing the premises there, but will soon move into new offices that provide more space."
Infobox: St. Georgen digital hub
Change is afoot in this rural idyll in the middle of the Black Forest. St. Georgen and the surrounding area have been an established hub for the high-tech industry and mechanical engineering for some time now. From 2018, the region has also counted among one of the ten digital hubs funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg. Comara's headquarters are located on the former premises of hi-fi company DUAL, whose record players and pickup technology were once considered to be an industry benchmark.
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