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Israeli startup brings pre-digital factories online

3d Signals transforms industrial machines into ‘smart’ production facilities, boosting efficiency, cutting costs and saving energy

An Israeli startup enables traditional manufacturers to convert their industrial plants into ‘smart’ digital facilities without buying new machinery, significantly boosting production, reducing costs and saving energy.

Within four months of installing a plug-and-play system created by 3d Signals, based in Kfar Saba, Israel, Eckart Hydraulik-Pneumatik, a manufacturer of hydraulic rotary motors and other fluid technology components based in Schlüchtern, Germany, saw a significant drop in the amount of time its machinery was idle.

“We were surprised to see an almost across-the-board reduction in downtime and 30 percent increased productivity,” says Managing Director Markus Eckart. “Virtually any machine, regardless of type, model and age can be connected.”

The 3d Signals system notched up similar improvements at Samson AG, a much larger company based in Frankfurt with 4,000 employees, customers and production sites across the globe, and annual sales of more than €600M. Samson has been manufacturing control valves and other industrial components for more than a century and has successfully transitioned into the digital age, producing signal converters, automation systems, sensors and thermostats for the oil, gas and chemical industries.

But its own machines are a mix of old and new from multiple manufacturers – many of them dating back before the onset of the cloud and connected devices. The company installed 3d Signals’ edge devices and sensors on more than 100 machines in its Frankfurt plant, integrating the data with its operational and enterprise systems, digitizing the company’s shopfloor for the first time. Samson did not have to wait long to see the effect.

“The 3d Signals solution improved machine productivity in some of the production floors by more than 30 percent within months. We share the comprehensive reports generated from the data on a daily basis with our shop floor staff, creating new transparency, trust and continuous operational improvement,” says Dr. Andreas Widl, the Samson CEO, who has since joined the 3d Signals board of directors.

“3d Signals shows how shifts are operating, how machines are operating, how supply chains are operating,” Widl says. All the information collected on the system can be used to redress and anticipate problems, optimize machine use, and save money and energy, he adds.

“You move your company, the way you run it, from assumptions to facts,” he says.

More than 90 percent of the world’s 64 million manufacturing machines are pre-digital. Even if they are automated, they cannot communicate with other devices or share much of their data.

Managers are unable to collect information on how the machines are operating, and to make the necessary adjustments for problems like lack of staff or material. They are often unaware of problems on production floors, which can host dozens of machines.

“With 3d Signals we found the perfect solution for our production teams to get transparent insight into machine activity in the shortest time. We have successively reduced downtime and increased availability.” says Sebastian Wasserman, CEO of Wasserman Technologie, a medium-sized mechanical engineering company near Frankfurt. “Before we adopted the 3d Signals solution, we walked around the shop floor with pen and paper and wrote down the machine spindle hours and evaluated data later. By the time we computed key figures they were already out of date,” says Sebastian Suss, the company’s Head of Production.

3d Signals technology, powered by artificial intelligence, uses non-invasive sensors to send information from the machines to the cloud, where it is analyzed so plant managers know exactly how each one is performing and can adjust it if necessary. A management dashboard that can be accessed remotely provides an overall view of the entire organization, with the real-time availability status of every machine on the production floor.

“Most factories aren’t connected. They don’t know when machines are working, or how effectively, and that was our pivot,” says 3d Signals COO Galia Kedmi.

Ordinarily, digitization is an expensive, complicated and time-consuming process, which is why many manufacturers are not yet connected. A production floor can consist of an array of machines, varying widely in age, and produced by different manufacturers. They are often situated in closed buildings made of concrete and steel, rendering it difficult and expensive – if not impossible – to connect everything.

But 3d Signals is able to digitize these less modern machines – regardless of age, make or location – in less than a week, says Kedmi. Minimal employee training is required.

“We’re giving manufacturers a simple way to quickly increase their productivity, reduce their operational costs and CO2 emissions,” says 3d Signals CEO Ariel Rosenfeld. “It’s a solution that’s set up in days and works on any machine to boost efficiency. We are delivering smart manufacturing for a better world.’’

The company currently has 20 customers in the automotive, energy, machine tools and machinery industries and forecasts over 400% year-on-year growth in annual recurring revenue by the end of 2022.

OurCrowd, the Jerusalem-based investment platform, is joining current investor State of Mind Ventures’ Momentum Fund in a $12 million funding round. Previous investors include Vintage, Mercura Capital, and DIVEdigital from Germany.

For more information about 3d Signals and investing via OurCrowd, Click here

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