Berco has introduced a new data-driven approach at Bauma 2022, in Munich, Germany, launching a patented ‘Smart Undercarriage’ system to reinforce this move.
A leading global manufacturer and supplier of undercarriage parts for the world’s leading manufacturers of tracked construction equipment, Berco says data is playing a strategic role in supporting customers and developing system solutions with a view to continuous improvement.
The system in question was developed by the company together with a spin-off from the University of Rome.
“This first-to-market Original Equipment (OE) solution allows the temperature of compact track loader (CTL) machine rollers to be constantly monitored using a built-in sensor, a radio frequency identification device (RFID) and an antenna that transmits data to a control unit,” the company explained.
The roller temperature can then be viewed on the machine’s display or on any other device such as a smartphone or tablet, enabling constant monitoring of the component.
The Smart Undercarriage is easily implemented on every roller and installed on every type of CTL on the market, according to the company. It allows the OEM to check whether the component is operating in the optimal temperature range and to intervene in time if necessary. This results in the avoidance of field failures and the improvement of vehicle uptime, Berco says.
Berco has already allocated funding to develop an added kit for ‘Smart Undercarriage’ for its Aftermarket customers, which will allow for the direct and consistent receiving of collected temperature data. This retrofit option will enable the company to learn more and more about the operating environments of individual machines and to implement its dedicated technology proposition accordingly, the company said.
Francesco Grenzi, Berco R&D Executive Director, said there was also potential for extending this sensor-based system into parts of mining dozers in the future.
Also present at Bauma 2022 is the recently launched versions of the mobile and web applications of ‘Bopis Life’, a cloud-based platform where all inspections conducted on machines by Berco’s field engineers and dealers are recorded.
Using hand tools or ultrasonic devices, the material thickness of each undercarriage element is measured, thus, monitoring its state of wear.
“Field data collection, archiving and subsequent analysis play on the one hand an increasingly strategic role for our company in supporting our customers, as it allows them to benefit in terms of machine uptime,” Grenzi said. “On the other hand, the constantly expanded data archive represents a powerful tool in Berco’s hands for the development of increasingly high-performance system solutions, confirming its leadership role in undercarriage products.”
The ‘Bopis Life’ platform is used worldwide. To date, more than 20 licenses have been activated at Berco dealers and more than 300 inspections have been carried out over the past three years, resulting in a significant amount of data collection and analysis.
Alongside this digital initiative, Berco revealed how the company is strengthening its activities in the areas of production, supply chain, sales and engineering to become a truly global player.
As a part of thyssenkrupp’s Business Unit Forged Technologies since 2017, Berco benefits from the group’s unique global footprint, which includes more than 50 forging presses and over 150 machining and assembly lines in 15 locations worldwide.
As a next step, Berco will gain additional capacity for the production of components for both CTLs and Berco Mini Undercarriages (BMU) at the Forged Technologies plant in Mexico from 2023. So far, the Mexican plant has been dedicated to manufacturing automotive components.
“This localisation of production allows us not only to increase our global production capacities, but also to get closer to our customers in the North American market and their specific demands,” Patrick Buchmann, CEO of tk Forged Technologies, said.
Berco says it is set to exploit additional synergies by producing strategically relevant components at thyssenkrupp Forged Technologies’ automotive facilities.
“We will further optimise our global production footprint and complement this with parts sourced from our trusted supply base,” Buchmann added. “This is just one of the steps we will be taking in the future to ensure that our products are of the highest quality, as well as to further improve our supply chain.”
Berco’s transformation is also being reflected in how its supply chain is being restructured. To this end, the company is establishing strategic local hubs and empowering them with global responsibility in order to increase efficiency and to harmonise all supply chain-related processes, it said.
In China, for example, a material management hub based in the thyssenkrupp Forged Technologies’ facility in Nanjing is now responsible for the management and steering of all Chinese suppliers.
“While Italy will always be the spiritual home and heartbeat of Berco, the creation of strategic global hubs will be beneficial for the whole company from an international business perspective,” Piero Bruno, CEO of Berco S.p.A, said.
The company’s supply chain will also be bolstered by a global purchasing team to ensure that materials can be sourced in the quickest and most cost-effective manner.
Through its Berco Academy, the company is also placing an even greater emphasis on the engineering capabilities and technical support that it offers its global customers. This involves the provision of dedicated resources for all major regions of the world, so that the specific requirements and working conditions in each geographical location are fully reflected in the Berco products.