The EMO Hannover 2017 theme of “Connecting Systems for Intelligent Production” meant that many exhibitors were demonstrating connectivity solutions, data analysis applications and innovative services. The emphasis was on systems capable of interconnecting multiple partners, cloud-based machine monitoring solutions, simulation software, augmented reality for machine maintenance, blockchain technology for secure data transfer, new business models and much more, according to show organizers.
“The keynote theme of this year’s EMO Hannover gave us the ideal backdrop against which to present market-ready products for digital manufacturing,” said Christian Thönes, chairman of the executive board of DMG Mori AG, Bielefeld, Germany.
More than half of the show’s approximate 130,000 attendees came from abroad, with 70% of foreign visitors originating from European countries. Attendance from Asia increased sharply. According to the EMO visitor survey, nearly 60% of the show’s attendees were manager level. Along with digitization and connectivity, additive manufacturing was reported to be high on the agenda for many EMO visitors.
Initiative for Networked Production
The VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) presented its initiative for networked production for the first time at the EMO Hannover 2017. “The aim is to develop a standard for linking a huge range of disparate machinery control systems to a shared interface (a connector), and create the necessary software,” said Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, chairman of the VDW on the occasion of the Association’s press conference. A core team is involved in the first phase of the project with the companies DMG Mori, Emag, Grob, Heller, Liebherr-Verzahntechnik, United Grinding, Trumpf, and the VDW.
The VDW Executive Board decided on this project because there has not been a standardized and consistent solution so far. With the planned standard, data is to be read from different machines with different controllers of many generations and transported into infrastructural systems or the cloud in a standardized data format to analyze it and use it for optimizing production tasks. “This is the basic requirement for the success of Industry 4.0, especially in medium-sized firms,” said Prokop.
For the machinery manufacturers, too, this would be a significant easing of their workload, enabling them to shed tasks that although they urgently need to be completed are nonetheless outside a manufacturer’s main task and entail high costs. Plus, this creates an open system that offers a needed degree of independence and flexibility.
“Unfortunately the most recent developments showcased here at the fair also showed that in the case of control systems, particularly, the trend toward proprietary eco-systems is still ongoing,” said Prokop. “We intend to counteract this, and are therefore working to establish a development partnership with the control system manufacturers to render the VDW’s planned specification usable on the broadest possible scale.”
At EMO, control builders, software companies, tooling companies and machine tool builders demonstrated their individual responses to Industry 4.0 requirements.
Cutting Tool Manufacturers’ i4.0 Initiatives
The Walter AppCom app gathers large volumes of machine, tool and process data,” said Florian Böpple, manager of the digital manufacturing department at Walter. This might be status information, for example, which tells the production manager what every single machine is currently doing in real time, what tool is being used and how. This technology allows entire machining processes to be broken down in minute detail: Which tool was being used and for how long? Under what kind of conditions? The ratio of non-productive time to productive time. All these things and more are documented by the Walter AppCom app. “No-one needs to stand next to the machine recording data anymore,” concluded Böpple. “Instead, users can view precisely the information they need on the Walter AppCom app.”
Drawing on the data collected allows areas with the potential for optimization to be pinpointed more quickly and more precisely, and enables processes to be analysed, managed and improved more efficiently.
Sandvik Machining Solutions and TDM Systems offered an innovative solution that takes Tool Lifecycle Management to the next level, the company said. TDM Cloud Line includes easy set-up of Tool Database, provisioning of correct CAM data, manufacturer-independent tool assembly, statistical evaluation, and cloud-based solution available at any time in any location. TDM Cloud Line was first presented at EMO 2017. Pilot customers will test the software this autumn.
The key advantage of this cloud solution is that users can download and manage data from thousands of tools without having to purchase them. The solution can test alternative tools during the product design process and select the optimum tool for the specific design. At present, users have only data from tool manufacturers available to them, which can vary both in quality and depth. Data from the TDM cloud is available anywhere and is ready for immediate usage in the virtual cutting process.
MAPAL showed its Tool Management services based on the c-Com platform, a product of c-Com GmbH. Tool Management 4.0 guarantees maximum overview of all data and inventory movement, as well as costs. The Tool Management platform offered by MAPAL today is a modular system with 12 individual services that can be specifically configured for a customer’s particular production site. Data and information is available to all participants—production, purchasing, planning, tool managers and suppliers—in a transparent and consistent fashion. As a result, the entire process is more efficiently structured. MAPAL uses the c-Com open cloud platform, and offers digital tool management on this. This gives companies a functional and group wide technology database.
With Tool Management 4.0 customers have access to automatic analyses of data concerning production dates, current stock levels, reconditioning status of a tool, and tool costs per component. Process parameters such as tool life and cutting values are managed at a central location and can be accessed by the customer’s manufacturing and planning departments, for example. This exchange can occur within a specific plant or across several sites.
Machine tool builder i4.0 efforts
Okuma introduced Connect Plan, the comprehensive smart factory solution. The application enables advanced factory visualization, data processing and analysis as well as predictive maintenance, in an effort to facilitate smart manufacturing.
Okuma’s smart factory solution Connect Plan was created to maximize the potential of production facilities by increasing productivity and flexibility throughout the entire planning and manufacturing process. This solution stems from the know-how gained from Okuma’s own highly-automated smart factories, Dream Site and Dream Site 2, at the company’s Oguchi headquarters in Japan.
In terms of Industry 4.0, Heller is focusing on even higher machine productivity and on supporting the engineering chain, including supplementary machine functions, on-demand services and enhanced service capabilities. In three modules, Heller emphasizes ease of operation, customised workpiece manufacturing and enhanced evaluation of existing data.
Heller4Operation is an easy-to-use, operator-oriented user interface for Heller machines. The use of touch controls at the tool/workpiece loading station enables fast and robust operation. The second area, Heller4Services, comprises digital services. The module forms the basis for evaluations and statistics, providing support in reducing machine downtimes. Additionally, the visualization of specific information, including status displays of axes, spindles or other assemblies, lets users determine wear and take preventive measures to avoid unscheduled downtimes. The third area, Heller4Performance, relates to machine analysis for process and performance optimization, time-synchronous extraction of real-time data into the internet as well as evaluation and graphical display, using an external cloud platform. For Heller, the aim of all considerations, possibilities and solutions remains the reduction of the customer’s cycle times, and thus workpiece costs, by providing high productivity.