Schuler Goes Right to the Edge with Low-Code

Title graphic for Schuler Goes Right to the Edge with Low-Code

Each year at Hannover Messe, there seems to be one hot topic that pops up in every stage presentation and booth conversation. This year, that topic was industrial edge devices.

In his Mendix blog post on the topic, Mendix Strategic Business Director Wai Man Li defined industrial edge devices as “network devices with local compute and storage capabilities that can securely transmit data between local networks and the cloud.” Industrial edge devices are a critical tool for manufacturers striving to close the yawning gulf between business, information technology, and operational technology.

Many manufacturers are using a low-code application development platform to build and deploy apps for industrial edge devices. Doing so brings computing power closer to the machines on the production line, providing a real-time unified view that helps operators and shopfloor managers make better and faster decisions. At Hannover Messe 2023, attendees heard first-hand from a leading manufacturer who followed exactly that strategy.

“I prefer that everything is developed in the Mendix platform”

Schuler is a manufacturer of sheet metal processing equipment—decoilers, roller straighteners, coil welding machines, high-performance roll feeds, cut-to-length lines—for the automotive, electric motor, and appliance industries. Michael Weiher, project manager for digital solutions at Schuler, explained to Hannover Messe audiences at a joint presentation with Siemens how equipment manufacturers can benefit by implementing industrial edge devices.

“Our goal has always been to increase the productivity and efficiency of our machines,” says Weiher. “We recognize that digitalization offers great potential for that. Edge computing is the only way to get data, raw or already refined, from the machine into the system. With edge computing, you can combine the security guidelines from IT with the flexibility demanded by OT. That’s why we go with Siemens Industrial Edge and Mendix.”

Siemens Industrial Edge is an open computing platform that can process data where it’s generated: at production machines, machine tools, processes, and plants. Manufacturers can use that data to optimize workflows, save resources, and improve quality. Siemens Industrial Edge also gives manufacturers access to higher computing power, greater storage, and remote access with cloud computing.

Built into Siemens Industrial Edge are connectors for the Mendix platform. With the platform, Schuler empowers the business technologists in its workforce to write industrial edge device applications quickly and easily.

“I prefer that everything is developed in the Mendix platform,” says Weiher. “You have the database, you have the possibility of drag and drop, and it’s easy to start your workflows. And if you need help, you can always go to Mendix or a Mendix partner.”

Moving towards machine-as-a-service

On the Mendix platform, Schuler is building Siemens Industrial Edge apps that allow its customers to connect and monitor their equipment. The apps collect data at the machine level and then deliver it into the cloud. This makes it easier to:

  • Analyze and plan production
  • Share insights and alerts
  • Detect malfunctions and schedule maintenance
  • Perform quality checks
  • Create and enforce safety protocols

By building all these apps on the Mendix platform, Schuler ensures they are easy to deploy and are consistent across the organization. Plus the simple and reusable blocks of low-code and the intuitive visual UI that Mendix provides make app creation accessible to team members with lots of domain knowledge but little development experience.

All this is part of a strategic step by Schuler to extend their capabilities from industrial manufacturing to software development for digital products, almost moving towards a machine-as-a-service model. “We have started by bringing our digital products into our Digital Suite where our customers can find everything they need to put together their solutions,” says Weiher. “With the Digital Suite, you can digitalize either a single machine or a complete factory.”

Schuler was just one of the companies at this year’s Hannover Messe excited about the potential of the development and deployment capabilities of the Mendix low-code platform to advance their digitization plans. The launch of Mendix 10 will make realizing the full value of that potential even easier.