Success Story: From Condition Monitoring to Unified Namespace with netFIELD

Güdel Group AG, with headquarters in Langenthal, Switzerland, is a global supplier of machine components and intelligent automation solutions. They offer a wide range of products, from linear axes and gantries to robot drive axes and multi-axis gantries. They also provide a range of necessary components including gears, linear guides and rack and pinions. The Swiss family-owned company is well known for their 7th axis for robots. This allows a robotic arm to be used more flexibly along a production line using a linear axis.

With their range of products, Güdel serves a wide range of industries, but with a special focus on the automotive industry. Especially in press automation — the automated production of car body parts in highspeed production lines — axis systems and gantries must meet the most demanding requirements. The high-quality automation solutions are also used in a number of other industries, including logistics, food, wood and pharmaceutical industries.

A clean and bright inside of a factory with several machines lined up left and right. On two white rails at the upper half of the picture Güdel is written in red large letters. In the foreground, a sheet of metal lays on a conveyor belt.
Increasing integration of IIoT solutions

While the initial adoption of IoT solutions in the industrial environment was slow, Güdel has seen a rapid increase in demand for innovative products and services in recent years. Especially in highly automated sectors such as the automotive industry, the IIoT capability of plants and components is increasingly becoming a decisive factor. This prompted the company to kickstart its own concrete IIoT product development in 2019. Güdel first evaluated a number of different gateway solutions as an interface between IT and OT systems, which had to meet a wide range of requirements.

The desired gateway solution needed to be highly flexible in terms of various communication protocols and interfaces, and it had to include efficient hardware and software management tools. Hilscher’s edge gateways and their comprehensive netFIELD ecosystem met all the criteria perfectly — from the gateways’ multiprotocol capability to the cloud portal to the easy deployment of containerized software packages to the devices.

A man inspects the rollers of a drive axis by Güdel. He wears a black shirt with Güdel written in large white letters on it.
Condition monitoring for modules

Güdel’s first finished IoT product was Roller Condition Monitoring (RCM) for robot drive axes and gantries. Of all the components, the rollers of a carriage running over an axis carry the greatest load and are therefore subject to the most wear and tear. With RCM, Güdel customers get a complete package. It includes an evaluation unit located on the carriage, which evaluates vibration data in relation to the speed. The evaluation unit then transmits the data to the netFIELD Compact Edge Gateway from Hilscher, which is located in the control cabinet and handles all the further processing, storage and visualization of the data. Any software container can be rolled out on this via the cloud portal, for example, in order to visualize the measurement data via a GUI (Graphical User Interface) in the cloud portal myGüdel. Actions such as sending email alerts can also be triggered when thresholds for various parameters are exceeded. Güdel’s customers benefit from this package in many ways. The RCM prevents unexpected production downtime, ensures production quality and enables efficient maintenance planning. 

“Hilscher was instrumental in paving the way for us in the development of the Roller Condition Monitoring,” explains Christoph Pfister, Senior SW Development Engineer – Digital Products at Güdel. “With the basic approach to application development in the Hilscher seminars we were able to develop a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) in a very pragmatical way. This helped us to quickly get up to speed on IoT, Docker technology and the cloud, enabling us to deliver results to the management level at an early stage and accelerate further development.”

Hilscher netPI Edge Gateway in use.
On-site support from Hilscher Switzerland

It took about two years from the start of the project until RCM was fully operational. “However, the time of development spent only with Hilscher was much shorter,” said Christoph Pfister. “Of course, it‘s always difficult to put a figure on something like that, because of all the countless standard processes associated with such a new product development. Thanks to Hilscher’s approach, the early MVP development and the permanent development via DevOps processes, I would place the pure development time somewhere between 6 and 12 months. Hilscher’s Swiss team also played a significant role, who were always very helpful and supportive. 

Maintenance Manager for complex systems

Based on the first successful project for individual modules, Güdel then raised the standard and developed the Maintenance Manager for Smart Press Automation. This special application in the automotive industry has a very high degree of automation and integration in industrial automation. A production line consists of countless axes and components from different suppliers, which are subject to heavy loads due to the frequency and speed at which they are used. Automotive manufacturers are therefore faced with the challenge of collecting machine and component data from various manufacturers and merging them into their digital twin.

For Güdel, the leap from RCM to Maintenance Manager meant a significant increase in data volumes and the challenge of accessing the data via a wide variety of communication protocols and making it available via flexible interfaces, depending on the customer. Güdel thus relied on the more powerful netFIELD OnPremise gateway to meet these higher demands. It enabled the data to be collected from a large number of different axes via the control unit and making it available to the end customer. Thanks to standardized interfaces, Güdel modules can be easily integrated into any production plant and existing IIoT system using the Maintenance Manager. In addition to press automation, the Maintenance Manager will also be used in future for further automation solutions in logistics or production.

Güdel written in red large letters.

Thanks to Hilscher’s edge gateways and the entire netFIELD ecosystem we were able to develop tailor-made IIoT solutions that perfectly match our expectations and in the shortest time possible.

Christoph Pfister

Senior SW Development Engineer – Digital Products Güdel

A man with short dark hair and glasses smiles into the camera. He wears a blue shirt, the background is slightly grey with a white gloom around his head.
Unified Namespace (UNS): The unified data backbone

Based on the Maintenance Manager, Güdel is currently developing a Unified Namespace. In this innovative Industry 4.0 solution with a shop floor character, all data from a production plant will ultimately be converged from all sources to a central portal. This architectural approach does away with the traditional automation pyramid and provides a unified data backbone with 100% data compatibility across all levels. Connected systems include IIoT devices, enterprise resource planning solutions, warehouse management, production dashboards, and analytics systems. The Unified Namespace connects all these essential systems to a central MQTT broker, which receives all data, enabling the creation of a comprehensive digital twin. The digital twin can then be connected to other cloud services and ensures highly automated and efficient communication processes across the entire shop floor. To create a UNS, Güdel uses the netFIELD OnPremise edge gateways for the connectivity of the IIoT devices, which they also already previously used for their Maintenance Manager.

IIoT connectivity in the shortest possible time In a mere four years since conception Güdel has been able to put together a scalable portfolio for IIoT connectivity—from individual modules and entire production lines to the all-encompassing Unified Namespace. “Thanks to Hilscher’s edge gateways and the entire netFIELD ecosystem we were able to develop tailor-made IIoT solutions that perfectly match our expectations and in the shortest time possible,” concludes Christoph Pfister. “The remarkable flexibility of the netFIELD components and the excellent support of the entire Hilscher team in helping us take on even highly individual challenges made the difference for us.” 

How Condition Monitoring works: Gathering data

Gathering Data 

  • Measuring of vibrations and speed
  • Vibrations are detected by the acceleration sensors

Evaluating the data  

  • Analyzing the vibration signals in relation to the axis speed
  • Transmitting the data from the evaluation unit to the CM Computer

CM Computer 

  • Compute the condition on the dashboard
  • Store the gathered data
  • Get insights on the historical operation data 
An animation of a robot on a traversing axis on white background. Besides the machine stands a boxed IPC.
Benefits of netFIELD technology for Güdel
  • Rapid development of a minimum viable product (MVPs) for digital services
  • A unified netFIELD concept as the ideal foundation for agile DevOps application development
  • Multiprotocol capability ensuring reliable communication in diverse environments
  • Easy device management and deployment of home-grown applications


A GUI of the Güdel Condition Monitoring Manager. In the center, a animation of an robot axis can be seen.
Support for the development of IIoT applications

For the development of IIoT applications, Hilscher teaches its partners a basic approach from three common open source components in seminars and individual workshops. This allows customers to test Hilscher components and their individual requirements with little effort. Node-RED is a Java-based development tool whose modular principle makes IIoT applications easy to implement. It can be used to flexibly connect hardware devices, APIs and online services - in other words, it provides the basic architecture for the data flow. The InfluxDB time series database system can be used to store and retrieve machine data, including time stamps, for use in real-time analysis or other IIoT applications. Finally, Grafana can be used to graphically display the collected raw data across platforms. In this way, companies can build meaningful dashboards from the information of different sources.

Further information
Güdel written in red large letters on white background.

Güdel is a manufacturer of high-precision machine components & intelligent automation solutions, headquartered in Langenthal, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1954 and employs about 1,000 people at more than 20 locations worldwide.
Learn more about Güdel’s products and solutions on the company’s website.

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