United Grinding hosts an annual conference with its sales partners and international press to highlight the latest developments, machine sales trends, investment in production and roadmap for the upcoming years. This year, with the theme of “Lights, Camera, Action,” the Motion Meeting 2017 was organised to showcase its latest advancements at the United Grinding headquarters at Thun, Switzerland. Does STUDER, SCHAUDT and MIKROSA have a place on the Walk of Fame? Yes, this year’s edition witnessed the re-launch of S11 cylindrical grinding machine with extended functionality and the company’s vision for the next industrial revolution – Industry 4.0.
Addressing at the annual press conference, Fred Gaegauf, CEO, Fritz Studer AG and Schaudt Mikrosa GmbH, said, “We make our customers more successful, by responding to their requirements. To do this, you first have to understand the customer's individuality. Easier said than done, in a time when the complexity of processes is steadily increasing and customer requirements are also growing significantly.” And yet the three companies achieve this, also thanks to their flexibility in production and constant pursuit of innovation. “We are well on track, even if we have not met all our targets”, confirmed Gaegauf. To this end, the cylindrical grinders have invested heavily in their production technology and hugely reduced processing times, which ultimately also benefits the customer.
2016 started very positively for STUDER after a successful Grindtec trade fair, but this trend could not be maintained throughout the year and Fritz Studer AG finished the year below target. What are the reasons for this? “The VW diesel scandal, the weak economy in China and the continuing effects of the euro exchange rate as well as political uncertainties in many countries caused us problems”, explained Jens Bleher, Managing Director, Fritz Studer AG and CSO of the Cylindrical Grinding Technology Group. STUDER's most important sales markets are Western Europe, followed by Germany, China and North America.
SCHAUDT MIKROSA was unable to continue the success of 2015. After a strong spring, incoming orders remained clearly below the set targets. Orders in Germany, with a percentage of 25%, primarily come from automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. Another big market is China, with a percentage of 26%.
Efficient value creation in the operation segment
STUDER, SCHAUDT and MIKROSA focus on strengthening core competencies along the entire value chain and have invested around 40 million CHF in their plants during the last few years. New buildings have been added and new machine tools have been installed and networked based on optimised logistical criteria. The cylindrical grinders have integrated central manufacturing processes into their own value creation chain in order to guarantee high process stability.
At the same time, they have founded their own PuLs® Six Sigma Academy with the internal PuLs® philosophy, based on the Lean Six Sigma method. This enables the employees to shape their own working culture and to constantly examine and improve processes and systems. “We strive to achieve perfect processes, so that we can provide excellent products and services. We want to impress our customers with our effectiveness”, said Gerd König, COO, Cylindrical Grinding Technology Group.
The future starts now
In order to maintain the innovation leadership of STUDER, SCHAUDT and MIKROSA in the future, the focus will be on the following projects:
Industry 4.0: Here, the cylindrical grinders are focusing on the acquisition of machine and process data. The goal is predictive maintenance. The aim is to avoid unexpected downtimes for customers and to make production more plannable and efficient.
Smart sensors: Here STUDER, SCHAUDT and MIKROSA develop active, autonomous sensors to fully measure and also actively support the grinding process.
Universal series: Following the successful market launch of the completely revised internal grinding machine series, STUDER is continuing to work on issues that make the customer more successful, as is the norm for a trendsetter.
Cooling lubricant: In cooperation with IRPD AG, which operates in 3D printing, STUDER is developing coolant nozzles for laminar flow conditions. These allow the lubricant to be accurately directed into the grinding slot, so that the optimal cooling effect is achieved at the desired location.
The S11 with extended functionality
The extended functions will particularly please users of the new S11 - the smallest production cylindrical grinding machine in the STUDER portfolio: Now they can profit from the diverse advantages of the STUDER standard grinding cycles and the grinding software for offline programming StuderGRIND. Using the software, StuderWINfocus together with Fanuc control provides the basis for a flexible scope of use, which increases customer benefit significantly.
"The customer naturally still has the opportunity to design his program as flexibly as possible using micro functions. With the STUDER standard grinding cycles, however, he has even more convenience and support with the S11," highlighted Christian Josi, Project Manager, Fritz Studer AG. The uniform control platform guarantees program consistency on all machines running Windows operating systems. This is regardless of whether the program is programmed directly on the Control or is generated externally with StuderGRIND.
STUDER confirms the functions that can be offered immediately are the Fanuc 0i-TF Control, the chuck-work head, which goes along with C-axis option, HSG-Spindle, the new balancing system with contact detection and die StuderGRIND software with extension packages. These functions will take some time to get ready for the production and the new enclosure will be released in Q3 of 2017.
The next industrial revolution – Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 is a vision. But what lies behind it? STUDER gets to the bottom of this issue and showcased just what this vision entails. “A smart factory isn't simply created overnight. It is necessary to focus on certain areas”, noted Josi. “For STUDER, the basic principle applies, that all further developments should lead to a customer benefit. We work closely with our customers”, he explained. STUDER is specifically working on the following:
Simple and secure networking: The basis of Industry 4.0 is the networking of machine, logistics, product and our customers' business systems (ERP, SAP). Everyone must speak the same language here. This is achieved through the simple and secure software interface used worldwide, OPC UA (Open Platform Communication Unified Architecture). STUDER has integrated the OPC UA standard into its ‘StuderWIN’ machine software. The machine can assume two roles here: OPC UA Client and Server. This enables STUDER machines to be integrated simply and securely into the environment of the digital factory.
Elimination of unplanned machine downtimes: The United Grinding Group adopts the ‘Predictive Maintenance’ approach here. In order to make this possible in future, the data of the individual assemblies and components are recorded and analysed. Different measured variables are needed here, to form a clear picture of the individual assemblies and components. This requires continuous learning and is an ongoing process.
“Once there is a clear vision, suitable strategies and measures can be precisely planned and the right tools developed”, convinced Josi. Another project that is being tackled is the “One Push Remote Solution”. This means that if an assembly or component fails, despite Predictive Maintenance, the problem can be rectified at the press of a button and the customer can be offered optimal support.
Who is at the centre here? With the use of new technologies and digitalisation, we must never lose sight of the customer benefit. Concluding on the role of people in the digital factory, Josi said, “Doubtless the requirements will change and different competencies will become important. However, people will remain an essential part of the system in future. Because the fourth industrial revolution should ultimately serve people and not vice versa.”