Digitisation of Production In Industry 4.0

  • Wednesday, 02 August 2017 06:10

How are machine tool makers incorporating Industry 4.0 in their machining centres and beyond? By Michael E Neumann

Machine tool manufacturer Heller has been providing a range of products for decades, mainly comprising four and five axis machining centres, mill/turning centres and flexible manufacturing systems.

In terms of Industry 4.0, the company is looking at even higher machine productivity and supporting consistent engineering chains. This also includes looking at supplementary machine functions, on-demand services and enhanced service capabilities.

Reducing Cycle Times With Industry 4.0

The company hopes to illustrate the importance of ease of operation, customised workpiece manufacturing and enhanced evaluation of existing data on three main fronts:

1. The Heller4Operation is an operator-oriented user interface for the company’s machines. The use of touch controls at the tool/workpiece loading station enables robust operation. The new operator panel also allows specific programs from web environments to be run.

2. Secondly, Heller4Services, comprises of digital services. The Services Interface focusses on transparency of manufacturing and maintenance processes. The module forms the basis for evaluations and statistics, thus providing support in reducing machine downtimes. Additionally, the visualisation of specific information, including status displays of axes, spindles or other assemblies, enables users to determine wear and to take preventive measures in order to avoid unscheduled downtimes.


Flexible integration into existing production systems
should be a focus for manufacturers.

3. Finally, Heller4Performance comprises the machine analysis for process and performance optimisation, time-synchronous extraction of real-time data into the internet as well as evaluation and graphical display, using an external cloud platform.

All this is aimed at reducing the customer’s cycle times, and thus workpiece costs, by providing greater productivity through greater ease of use of the machine, optimal integration into the network and expanded functionalities and service possibilities.

Additionally, flexible integration into existing production systems are also a focus, with new machining centres enabling continued use of existing tools from other Heller machines and the use of manual clamping fixtures. Adaptation of hydraulically operated clamping fixtures is also possible.

Active Evaluation


Research is underway for the most appropriate
machining processes in light-weight automotive
construction.

The company also founded a new business and technologies development division to explore new technologies in 2010, such as ways to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of combustion engines, electromobility, lightweight construction and Industry 4.0.

In collaboration with a team from application development, application assembly and sales, the division developed the CylinderBoreCoating (CBC) process, a technology for the coating of cylinder bores of aluminium crankcases using electric arc wire spraying.

The company states that the coating results in a 50 percent reduction in friction forces between the cylinder and the piston ring, enabling a more compact crankcase design and significantly reduced cylinder bore spacing. This results in a reduction in engine size and weight savings.

Reduce Idle Times


To reduce idle times,workpiece details can be
selected from pallet management and
transferred to the cloud.

The division also developed and launched solutions in response to Industry 4.0, called Heller4Industry. A feature would be tool provisioning. Tool magazines are usually loaded in a manner that provides optimal storage capacity. However, this often means the tool access sequence is different from the sequence of machining operations. The distance from the tool to the spindle has a significant influence on how long the tool change takes.

To reduce these idle times, workpiece details to be optimised can be selected from pallet management and transferred to the cloud. Both tool change times and tool idle times are then analysed and evaluated in view of the sorting order, providing the shortest idle times for the given workpiece and the machining operation. The CNC program for re-sorting the tool magazine is then generated in the cloud and provided to the machine.

Integrating Downstream Machining


Due to flexible complete machining on a 5-axis
machining centre, costs can be reduced.

Another current project is metal additive manufacturing. The experts are working on a cost-effective process, providing high material application rates in an industrial environment supplemented by downstream machining.

The idea is to use this technology for making additions to the component whilst integrating downstream machining operations in order to achieve the required drawing specifications. As with CBC, the goal is to find solutions for relevant applications in series production for the general machine and automotive industry.

Other developments of new business and technologies development division focus on light-weight construction. The demand for lighter vehicles inevitably requires the use of light metals and carbon fibre-based plastics, where research is underway on the most appropriate machining processes.

APMEN Cutting Tools, August 2017

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