Digital Transformation in Manufacturing: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Line Benefits from MES Integration


  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell in Heavy Industry

Technology Used

  • Ignition by Inductive Automation
  • MQTT Broker (Distributor Module for Ignition)

Project Overview

The company wanted to create a digital manufacturing platform on the hydrogen fuel cell line at its manufacturing facility. The objective was to connect all the work centers and test stands involved in the production process into a Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

The MES would perform various tasks, streamlining operations by automating and optimizing processes that were previously done manually, thus reducing errors and inefficiencies. In addition, Andon dashboards showed OEE and process counts giving clear operational status in real time.


System scalability was a major design challenge and consideration. The company knew it would be adding more machines and processes in the future, going from a few machines to many more machines and processes. The system needed the ability to have a uniform method of integrating and sending the data to the Ignition server.


Digital work instruction processes offer manufacturers numerous advantages in terms of accuracy, efficiency, accessibility, compliance, and cost savings:

  • Reduces the risk of human error associated with reading and interpreting handwritten or printed instructions
  • Ensures all workers follow the same standardized procedures
  • Allows for immediate updates and revisions to instructions
  • Ensures that everyone is using the most current version of the work instructions
  • Streamlines the process of distributing, updating, and accessing work instructions
  • Integrates with other digital systems (e.g., MES, ERP), enhancing overall workflow efficiency.
  • Maintains records of who accessed and followed instructions, aiding in compliance with industry regulations and standards.
  • Printed reports of word orders already performed retain the original work order instruction that was performed at that time.

NeoMatrix was an ideal fit for the project due to our relevant software and MES experience, technical approach, automotive industry experience and Ignition integrator expertise. Using Ignition, we focused the integration project on the following functionality on 6 stations on the hydrogen fuel cell line:

  • Provided an OEE Engine: The OEE Engine connects to the plant floor automation systems to provide equipment state and downtime tracking information. An ad-hoc analysis screen allows users to build custom analyses of OEE details.
  • Built SPC functionality using SepaSoft’s SPC module including storing test definitions, parameters, and results.
  • Built Custom Track & Trace functionality utilizing the standard Ignition components and SQL backend.
  • Configured an Andon Dashboard: Built to provide real-time visibility to the operational status for the hydrogen fuel cell line. The dashboard is capable of displaying: Real-time information from PLCs; OEE statuses; Production counts; and line modes, states, production counts, and OEE metrics. The dashboards display all relevant information on a single big screen TV utilizing Ignition’s Perspective Module. All the user interfaces on operator stations had a help call button (“Andon Pullcord”).  This button would cause a box with that station’s name to flash on the Andon board to show that the operator needs help from a supervisor.
  • Created Reporting Interface: The interface provides the ability to view the following: Production history by time and work center; Product Genealogy by serial number; and SPC data by serial number, and much more.


After we completed the integration project on the hydrogen fuel cell line, the manufacturer saw significant improvements in operational efficiency and data visibility. The OEE Engine enables accurate tracking of equipment states and downtime and allows users to perform custom OEE analysis. Custom track and trace functionality, the Andon Dashboard and reporting all work together to facilitate better decision-making, improved traceability and comprehensive oversight of the manufacturing process.

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