Digitalization with a human face in Déville-lès-Rouen

24/06/2019 - France / Innovation

How is industry 4.0 applied in the field? Let's illustrate by diving into the heart of the Déville-lès-Rouen factory. 
In Déville, the 4.0 adventure begins on a simple smartphone, the nerve center of an innovative mobile CMMS* system. All maintenance personnel and production managers are equipped with and have access to the Mobility Work application, which allows them to collect maintenance information, report problems, and transmit information to their colleagues in real time, in order to solve them collaboratively. "We sometimes think that digitization implies a certain degree of dehumanization," explains Guillaume Sainty, the Vallourec Performance Analyst in charge of assisting the factory's employees in these new practices. "But instead, a tool like Mobility Work strengthens collaboration and communication within teams, making exchanges more fluid and dynamic."  

Meanwhile, an Alarming 4.0 system enables all production facilities in the factory to be monitored. Through a set of digital tools, it conducts a continuous analysis of the sensors, vibrations, and currents produced by the machines in order to detect the first signs of failure and anticipate its resolution without having to interrupt activity. 

Artificial intelligence and Big Data for premium positioning

With Sofia, digital technology also strengthens the core of Vallourec's know-how. This smart heat treatment software guarantees an identical heat cycle from one tube to another, for superior product quality. For Guillaume Sainty, data has a lot to contribute to the industry: "Internally, collecting and analyzing data related to our business is a way to understand how to continuously improve. Furthermore, being able to provide our customers with accurate manufacturing and traceability data in addition to their products is a major added value, a guarantee of security and transparency that fuels the trust they place in us."  

To render this data usable, Vallourec has formed a partnership with Saagie, a Big Data expert and visualization specialist. It is this partnership that allows the Déville plant to measure the performance of its new production line. Indeed, since 2016, the machines have gradually been connected to one another. While it used to take one to two weeks for a tube to travel the entire line, it now takes merely 7 hours: during this time, the solution developed by Saagie retrieves the data from the line's information system and makes it possible to view it live, with clear graphics. Teams can thus monitor and analyze the flow of products in real time, in order to control this new production rate. For example, knowing the speed of one machine compared to another helps to avoid congestion on the line and optimizes the organization of the entire production process.

Digitalization that can be appropriated by everyone

In the age of industry 4.0, even the way that meetings are conducted within the factory has been transformed. The teams adapt the "TOP" (Theme, Objective, Plan) meeting system, with 5, 15, and 30-minute formats, standardized for greater efficiency. Digital tools such as touch screens, as well as easy access to factory data, allow for more dynamic and relevant sessions. This "augmented" operating mode is quite popular internally: "Employees are proud to work in a modern and connected environment," confirms Guillaume Sainty. To the point that some people have told me that it would be difficult for them to go back to the way things were!"  

If this global digital transformation is a success, it's probably because it has been designed around the employees: "Digitalization shouldn't make things more complex. It is essential that everyone is able to appropriate the technology and understand that these tools are there to provide support and facilitate work on a daily basis. This is why, for example, an application like Mobility Work offers an ultra-intuitive user experience, inspired by mainstream tools like Facebook. Our teams quickly understood how it worked."   

Maintenance, production, collaboration... in Déville, the factory of tomorrow has a very human face indeed. 

* CMMS: Computerized maintenance management system