With over 25 production sites and 7,000 employees across the world, the Ceratizit Group is the global market leader in various application segments for its highly specialised cutting tools, indexable inserts, rods made from hard materials and components for wear protection. Its operations are coordinated from its global headquarters located in Luxembourg. This is also where its digital transformation is taking shape.

Data mining for facts-based decisions

Thierry Wolter, Ceratizit, combines industry 4.0 and sustainabilityConnecting different types of data and turning them into actionable information is at the heart of the process. “In order to maximise our efficiency, we need to take decisions based on facts,” says Executive Board Member Thierry Wolter. “We have been collecting data for decades, but the challenge has always been to use it in a meaningful way. That is what we are focusing on today.”

Projects are now underway to connect the entire production process with the machine execution system in order to improve process parameters, implement data-based quality assurance and increase efficiency. A digital twin used for predicting the expected outcome depending on the exact characteristics of the input will also be built. “The raw materials that we use are all subject to fluctuations, not least as 83% is recycled,” explains Mr Wolter. “We know from experience how to compensate for the fluctuations to get the same end product, but we now use data to optimise efficiency, process parameters and quality measures.” In addition, Ceratizit is implementing machine learning algorithms aimed at reducing its environmental impact.

Fortunately, Luxembourg has a very good nucleus of companies specialised in artificial intelligence.

All these projects involve processing huge quantities of data about a wide range of parameters, and it is very difficult to establish cause-effect links. The solution is to use artificial intelligence. “Fortunately, Luxembourg has a very good nucleus of companies specialised in this field. We work together with innovative start-ups such as EarthLab Luxembourg and university spin-off DataThings.”

Sustainable customer links

Ceratizit produces both standard products and solutions adapted to customers’ specifications. A new digital ordering system allows clients to configure certain solutions online. Once they submit their requests, the drawing of the product is immediately ready and can go straight into production.

To help customers optimise their use of Ceratizit’s tools, the company offers the ToolScope monitoring and control system that continuously records signals generated during the production process. Data collected is used to monitor and adjust the machines in real time and to analyse correlations in hindsight. Its LiveTechPro remote support app allows Ceratizit to provide technical advice and support to customers without first having to travel to their production sites. “These tools improve their efficiency, but they also have positive environmental effects as they make it possible to reduce both CO2 emissions and waste,” Mr Wolter points out.

Innovation mindset

With over 200 R&D experts in-house and cooperation with the University of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and Montanuniversität Leoben in Austria, Ceratizit has a strong focus on innovation. “Compared to many other countries, Luxembourg has a long history of supporting innovation,” claims Mr Wolter.

Compared to many other countries, Luxembourg has a long history of supporting innovation

However, he underlines that succeeding with industry 4.0 is not only a matter of technological development. “The people dimension is extremely important. We have to make sure that we bring our employees along on the digitalisation journey and help them and their roles evolve. Finding the right staff is always a challenge, but I think it is easier in Luxembourg than elsewhere because the country is so open and international. We find good people here.”

Photo: © Luxinnovation/Laurent Antonelli