Knorr-Bremse Logo
Industry: Manufacturing & Engineering
Location: Germany
Download Full Story

Knorr-Bremse AG used Raspberry Pi and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for ARM to build innovative IoT platform


  • Delivers enterprise-class security features and support
  • Powered real-time data monitoring capabilities, meaning data is available in a single repository for analysis, which enabled the optimization of production processes.
  • Supported immediate action to resolve issues such as overruns and bottlenecks, preventing breakages and unplanned downtime.


Knorr-Bremse is the global market leader in braking systems and a leading supplier of other rail and commercial vehicle systems. Knorr-Bremse’s products make a decisive contribution to greater safety and energy efficiency on rail tracks and roads around the world. About 29,000 employees at over 100 sites in more than 30 countries use their competence and motivation to satisfy customers worldwide with products and services. Knorr-Bremse delivers braking, entrance, control and auxiliary power sup­ply systems, HVAC and driver assistance systems for rail vehicles, as well as braking, steering, powertrain and transmission con­trol solutions, and driver assistance sys­tems for commercial vehicles.


A fourth industrial revolution is powering a new wave of innovation, and emerg­ing digital technologies look set to dra­matically transform manufacturing operations worldwide. To stay ahead of the game, Knorr-Bremse used Rasp­berry Pi and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for ARM to build an IoT platform that will collect data from manufac­turing machines in real time, enabling the company to accelerate failure re­sponses, reduce unplanned downtime, improve factory-floor maintenance and increase production efficiency.

The Challenge

We are currently experiencing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Emerging digital technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics are transform­ing the way manufacturers operate—and Knorr-Bremse is no exception.

Amann, team leader technology at Knorr- Bremse Truck Division, begins: “We are al­ways looking at how we can best harness new technologies to help maximize pro­duction efficiency, reduce downtimes and increase productivity. But to do this, we first need to make our factories ‘smarter’.”

Knorr-Bremse recognized that to launch In­dustry 4.0 initiatives, it needed the ability to collect factory-floor data in real time. Mod­ern manufacturing machines produced in the last 10 to 15 years automatically cap­ture reams of information, such as the ma­chine state (running, idle, unplanned down, planned down, off), error codes, part count, temperature, humidity, pressure. Older machines, however, do not.

Amann comments: “Because product life­cycles are long in our industry, up to 20 to 30 years, so is the lifecycle of our manufactur­ing equipment. Many of our machines are over 15 years old and therefore do not have advanced data collection capabilities—so many things are done manually. Operators, technicians and engineers regularly inspect the machines and note down their observa­tions. Reporting is done using pen and paper or spreadsheets.”

To optimize manufacturing operations, Knorr- Bremse needs real-time insight into how its older machines are performing, too.

“We wanted a small, inexpensive data col­lection system that we could simply plug into the machines to gather the informa­tion we needed,” says Amann. “After looking at the commercial solutions available and finding that none met our requirements, we decided to build our own.”

“A community-supported Linux distribution would not provide the required infrastructure and support, leaving our network at risk. We wanted an enterprise-grade solution, and SUSE was the obvious choice.”

SUSE Solution

Knorr-Bremse chose to use Raspberry Pi devices to collect data from manufactur­ing machines. The small, inexpensive sin­gle-board computers are ideal for building connected IoT solutions. Next, the company selected SLES for ARM as the operating sys­tem to support its innovative Raspberry Pi project.

Helmut Triller, IT director backend & cloud services at Knorr-Bremse, remarks: “We have very strict IT security controls in place, so using a community-supported Linux distribution as the operating system was not an option for us. Such a solution would not provide the required infrastructure and support, leaving our network at risk. We wanted an enterprise-grade solution, and SUSE was the obvious choice.”

Claudia Bruckmeier, team lead infra­structure services at Knorr-Bremse, adds: “SUSE is our preferred Linux distribution. We run our mission-critical SAP applica­tions on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, so we know from expe­rience that it’s a secure, stable, reliable platform. We also enjoy a long-standing relationship with the SUSE team, who are always there for us to provide advice and support.”

Specifically optimized for ARM processor-based systems, SLES for ARM ensures high performance levels and delivers a built-in image for the Raspberry Pi—helping Knorr- Bremse to hit the ground running with its IoT project. The company was quickly able to create its own unique graphical user in­terface for the Raspberry Pi devices.

With the SUSE solution, Knorr-Bremse also benefits from regular software updates and security patches, ensuring that sensitive factory-floor data remains secure.

The Results

Today, Knorr-Bremse is in the process of rolling out its first fleet of Raspberry Pi de­vices at one factory, with several more roll­outs planned for the near future.

Amann elaborates: “We are going to roll out the solution on a plant-by-plant basis, with the goal of implementing the IoT solution in all our facilities worldwide.”

With its new real-time data monitoring ca­pabilities, Knorr-Bremse expects produc­tion efficiency to soar.

Amann concludes: “We will be able to take immediate action to resolve issues such as overruns and bottlenecks, prevent­ing breakages and unplanned downtime. Rather than sifting through paper reports, all the data will be available in a single re­pository for analysis, which will enable us to optimize production processes and in­crease efficiency even further.”