Where does Industry 4.0 begin for customers?
It starts when our customers prepare an offer for their customers in order to tender for an order. A successful offer requires a lot of know-how. Imagine your company receives an invitation to tender. You have received a sample part or a drawing. Now, what is important is to quickly assess: Which process steps are necessary? How long will it take to manufacture the part? And what price can you offer?
What solutions are available for support with the preparation of offers and orders?
Today, we are already able to simulate the process costs and manufacturing time of parts. This enables our customers to define the costs for an order in advance, which they can use to prepare the offer. In the future, we want to process this simulation data in digital form in order to subsequently automatically generate an offer. This will make our customers’ offer process even faster.
Okay, let’s assume the customer is awarded the order. What happens next?
The next step is the cutting preparations. This step is about cutting the ordered parts out of a metal sheet as efficiently as possible. Bystronic offers a cloud service for this, the ByOptimizer, which groups the parts that are to be cut on the metal sheet in space-saving clusters and plans the optimal cutting strategy in order to process the parts in as little time as possible. This service is available as a subscription that can be adapted to the customer’s cutting requirements.
Now we are in the middle of the cutting process. What, in terms of laser cutting, is already possible today that was not possible without the intervention of Industry 4.0? For the time being, the actual cutting process will not change. But all the data that is generated during the cutting process on a laser cutting system can now be analysed. This allows customers to see if their machine is working optimally or not. If the cutting quality changes, they can immediately identify the cause. This is a new development.
The customer’s parts have been cut. The next step is bending. What innovations are available here?
We are currently transferring the Detection Eye function, which we have already successfully implemented on our laser cutting systems, to bending. This function recognises the tools in the press brake’s upper beam. It detects whether the operator has selected the correct tools and whether they have been inserted properly. If not, the function displays a message and suggests what corrections the operator must carry out. Will there be radically new types of products in the future?
The greatest potential for brand-new products lies in the field of software. In the future, laser cutting systems will autonomously monitor and control themselves. We have already taken the first step in this direction. In the next step, we will introduce intelligent functions into the process by means of software applications.
APMEN Sept 2016, Sheet Metalcutting