At EMO Hannover 2017, there was a particular focus on cloud- and offline-based solutions for networking machines, tools, handling aids and production sequences, in order to achieve the intelligent production operations of tomorrow. Networked machines, whose operating states can be acquired and statistically evaluated at any time, plus intelligent tools in conjunction with intelligent tool management systems, constitute only one aspect of tomorrow’s manufacturing operations. Improved service structures at the customer’s facility thanks to smartglasses, comprehension-enhancing projections of complex tools using augmented reality, increase the customer benefits involved. But solutions for security-driven management of the data generated were also presented.
Initiative for networked production
The VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) has launched a sectoral initiative for networked production. Its aims are development and software-based implementation of a standard for linking a whole array of highly disparate machine control systems at a shared interface. The initial phase of the project involves a core team comprising not only of VDW, but also major companies like DMG Mori, Emag, Grob, Heller, Liebherr-Verzahntechnik, United Grinding and Trumpf. With this collaboration, which is unique in its form, between firms from the machine tool industry and the VDW, machine tools are to be prepared for the digital future, and an urgently necessary foundation for “Industry 4.0” is to be created. The planned standard is tasked with making it possible to interchange data between machines with different control systems of many generations and forward them to manufacturing execution systems and/or to the cloud, in order to evaluate the data and utilise them for optimisation tasks. The goal of the initiative, thus, lies in harmonised networking of the production operation based on secure interfacing with EDP systems and clouds.
Integrated sensor technology
The Swedish tool manufacturer, Sandvik Coromant from Sandviken exhibited a series of tools as part of its Industry 4.0 initiative. Here, under the roof of Coroplus, integrated sensor technology in tools and tool-holders during machining was spotlighted. For vibration-damped drilling rods, the silent tools and the final machining steps in elaborate components can be monitored using app-based systems. The customer can see whether the tool has engaged and what the thermal stress in the drilling rod is like. The manufacturing process for expensive and complex components is thus monitored. In addition, intelligent tool-holders forward data on running time, loading and battery status to an app and thus incorporate the idea of predictive maintenance. Fine-drilling heads can be precisely adjusted by means of an app for manufacturing accurate borehole diameters. A comparable solution is also offered by BIG Kaiser from the Swiss town of Rümlang. This means that the tool does not have to be manually adjusted in the tool presetting device, but can, for example, be extended and retracted for different diameters directly in the machine using an app on the tablet. This shortens process chains and reduces nonproductive times during tool adjustment.
Intelligent countersink tools
The high-precision tool manufacturer, Hermann Bilz from the Swabian town of Esslingen has, for many years now, been producing countersink tools. These are used where the surface to be machined can be reached only through a borehole, e.g. in closed housings. A reversal of the sense of rotation causes the tool’s blade to be extended. In order to remove the tool from the borehole after machining, it is essential to retract the blade. Under the aegis of a joint project with O. Bilz and EWS, Hermann Bilz has developed a countersink tool that monitors retraction of the tool blade. The data is transferred to the machine’s control system using a communication protocol developed specifically for this purpose, and prevent a tool crash with the component if the blade is retracted incorrectly.
New interface with cyber-physical modules
In particular, the Industry 4.0 Special Show offered exciting insights into tomorrow’s networked future for production technology. The academic community was represented at this special show by a large number of universities. One highlight was indubitably the government-subsidised BazMod research project, aimed at developing a manufacturer-independent standardised interface for exchanging media, data and energy between the machine tool and cyber-physical add-on modules. This enables an innovative functional expansion of machine tools to be achieved using sensor/actuator-based cyber-physical systems (CPSs), which had previously been integrated into the machine tool, depending on the manufacturer involved. Standardised contacts at the face expand the established hollow-shaft-cone holder and thus make possible an intelligent interface for supplying data and energy to intelligent tools. The signal transmission feature integrated into the spindle provides a link to the machine, thus rendering superfluous complex signal receivers that had hitherto been installed in the machining space at the tool-holder, and expanding the technical duty options for actuator-based tools.
Holistic tool management systems
At the EMO Hannover, in the context of Industry 4.0, holistic tool management systems were a major focus. Many manufacturers of high-precision tools – such as the Iscar, Gühring and Sandvik companies – but also metrological specialists like Zoller GmbH from Pleidelsheim, supplied intelligent storage solutions for tools, components and accessories. Systems of this kind offer far more than merely an orderly and tidy tool management concept. The customer can precisely determine the tool costs per component, arrange for tools to be made available quickly and promptly, and avoid incorrect tool selection. In addition, intelligent systems feature a link to the machine tool, and receive information on a tool fracture, trigger a new purchase order at the tool vendor, and provide the machine’s operator with a constructionally identical tool. Systems of this kind render clearer and more transparent tool flows within the manufacturing operation.
With digitalisation initiatives to the digital factory
The machine tool manufacturer, DMG Mori showcased numerous innovations. One highlight announced was the open IIoT platform (Industrial Internet of Things) Adamos, which began operation on October 1, 2017 with 200 experts. It originated from the alliance between DMG Mori, Dürr, Software AG and Zeiss ASM PT, and is tasked with offering solutions for digitally networked production. In addition, DMG Mori uses Open Connectivity for access to its Celos-Ecosystem, so as to make possible a consistently harmonised digital data flow even with third-party makes or manual workplaces, thus taking one step further towards its vision of a digital factory. Besides innovative software solutions for networking, several new machine models were showcased: these included the even sturdier NHX 6300 horizontal machining centre for titanium machining, the high-dynamic-response DMU 200/340 gantry for machining large components, and the Multisprint 25/36 multi-spindle automatic lathes, which promise more productivity when machining long turned parts.
First collection, then networking
Systems can be networked on different levels. The question here arises for machine tool users as to whether all data must be sent to the cloud immediately. The answer to this is no, as far as Bosch Rexroth from Lohr am Main is concerned. The present-day internet would certainly not be able to provide the capacity that would be necessary in order to transfer the huge quantities of sensor information to the cloud that machine tools are nowadays already able to make available. For this reason, Bosch Rexroth unveiled the Data Analytics Server on a machine from the machine tool manufacturer, Pfiffner. What’s involved here is additional local computing power installed in the machine tool’s control cabinet, enabling machine and process data to be collected, stored and analysed. The aim is to process data beforehand, so as to admit to the cloud only the really essential compressed quantity of data, and in this way, avoid overloading the data lines. It remains to be seen, though, what data it is expedient to send. They can, however, be determined by the users themselves using appropriate analytical tools and configuration programs that can be operated with minimal previous knowledge.
Connected Machining – networking without the cloud
Dr Johannes Heidenhain GmbH from Traunreut demonstrated its Connected Machining function package, enabling consistently digitalised job management to be provided: transparent processes, time-saving work sequences and facilitated use of the data involved. The Remote Desktop Manager from Heidenhain premiered at the fair, for example, enables the customer to access the PCs located in the network and the software installed on them directly in the control system at the touch of a button. In the demonstration, Heidenhain did not restrict themselves to their own stand, but networked no fewer than 22 machines, which were distributed over the entire grounds of the fair. In order to check the status of the machines, there was no need to take a long walk over the huge exhibition grounds, since with the aid of the new StateMonitor software package, a glance at the screen sufficed in order to find out the machine’s current state using RAG status displays. Further functions, such as displaying the current machining program or using filters so as to display only machines in a particular operating state, simplify the work of machine operators. Heidenhain wants to deploy the Connected Machining solutions in small and mid-tier companies with 10 to 15 machines. For this reason, they deliberately rejected the idea of a cloud solution and the concomitant risks, with regards to data security, for example. Instead, networking takes place on local servers.
Digitalisation of the value added chain
Siemens AG has demonstrated its Internet of Things (IoT) Ecosystem MindSphere as a digitalisation platform for all industrial sectors. The application concerned involves digitalisation of the entire value added chain, as exemplified by an injection-moulded component for a drone. Machine tool manufacturers and operators were able, with the aid of such specific practical examples, to bring themselves up to speed on the advantages that the merging of the real and virtual worlds offer them. For this purpose, Siemens, for the EMO, connected more than 200 machines to MindSphere via the Manage MyMachine app. This enabled visitors to retrieve live information from a computer on the machining code being executed and the current operating state of machines from all over the world. Openness of this kind, of course, necessitates appropriate solutions with a view to data security. Identify3D is a security solution of this nature, which assures the traceability of digital manufacturing processes for protecting intellectual property while enabling the design and production data available to be used for components with technically precise specifications only for a limited quantity.
Industry 4.0 platform for gear-cutting
The family firm, Klingelnberg presented its Industry 4.0 solution approach tailored to the gear-cutting industry, which is based on an IT platform. The key idea here is rigorous networking and holistic provision of process information along the entire process chain involved in gearwheel production. The GearEngine IT platform from Klingelnberg constitutes the backbone of the cyber-physical closed loop production system. As a central link between the machine tools and other services (like the company’s own SmartTooling tool identification system), it manages toothing data, production equipment, and the part history in three databases. For this purpose, the machines involved report to the platform individual data, e.g. about the tools and clamping devices used in machining the current gearwheel. This enables the entire production process for an individual gearwheel to be reconstructed. In addition, it is possible to intervene directly in the production operation, e.g. by improving the machining parameters between machining two gearwheels.
Expanded service with smartglasses
Index-Werke GmbH & Co KG Hahn & Tessky from the Swabian town of Esslingen showcased various innovative solutions for the digital era within the context of its iX4.0 initiative. Besides a cloud-based IoT platform for receiving and editing machine and process data, the new service structure with smartglasses is particularly noteworthy. By using smartglasses with a real-time capability, the customer can repair his machine himself in the event of failures. A service technician from Esslingen offers visual support for this. The information and instructions are transmitted to the customer via the glasses onto this machine. This saves time and reduces standstills.
Integrated sensor technology for avoiding rejects
In the field of high-precision technology, Renishaw from New Mills, UK, showcased its portfolio of systems for metrological applications and generative manufacturing. In the context of connectivity, the company showcased an integrated metrological capability. In the shape of the EquatorTM flexible test instrument, the company offers an intelligent process control system that enables tool corrections in the CNC production process to be updated fully automatically. Thanks to direct embedding in the production operation, correction data are transferred from the measuring instrument to the machine, and taken into due account when manufacturing subsequent components. Waste can, thus, be simply avoided by continual re-adjustment.
Radical shift towards digitalisation
The EMO Hannover 2017 showed that the radical shift towards digitalisation is being well received in the metalworking industry. Numerous IoT platforms like Adamos, Grob-Net 4 Industry or MindSphere were presented, which are progressing the advance of digitalisation. In line with this trend, manufacturers showcased numerous tools and other equipment that – fitted with sensors and digital communication interfaces – serve as suppliers of data to the digitally networked production systems. The up-to-the-future technologies nonetheless pursue traditional goals, such as trackable production processes, optimised resource utilisation, higher flexibility and increased productivity.