How Industry 4.0 can help manufacturers increase machine utilization and profits
The Industry 4.0 & Smart Manufacturing Adoption Report by IoT Analytics suggests that Industry 4.0 technology uptake is still low among manufacturers. Given that the advantages of Industry 4.0 are now so well-understood, why aren’t more manufacturers digitalising their processes?
One perception is that applying Industry 4.0 to existing production setups is expensive when, actually, it doesn’t have to be. Another reason for the slow uptake is that manufacturers see no reason to upgrade their existing tooling set-up and processes. If it isn’t broke, why change it? Manufacturers in this category may be unsure how Industry 4.0 fits into their established way of doing things.
The truth is, automated Industry 4.0 technologies can greatly benefit manufacturers’ bottom lines. For instance, Sandvik Coromant has found that a 20 percent increase in machine utilization can provide a 10 percent higher gross profit margin and automated systems can massively increase machine uptime.
Automated equipment can also support the growing trend for machining with limited, or no, human supervision — particularly amid the pandemic. As stated in a recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) report, COVID-19: What it means for industrial manufacturers, “For companies vulnerable to a viral outbreak within their ranks, this would be a critical time to explore a proactive deployment of automation technologies.”
Today’s Industry 4.0 technologies, including sensors and machine learning can also be beneficial in minimizing the number of production stops. Again, increasing profit. This includes stops needed to replace worn tooling, like drills.
Previously, operators had to rely on manual monitoring to detect wear in machine tools. PwC’s report points towards the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as an alternative. An example of this is Sandvik Coromant’s latest CoroPlus Machining Insights platform, an expansion of the company’s CoroPlus suite of connectivity software.
Using Machining Insights, CNC machines can connect through Ethernet and transmit information at higher volume than they can currently. This includes manufacturing data to improve workshop efficiency and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). And this isn’t limited to new machinery.
Most machines are connectible to the network, and there are adapters for older machines to make them compatible. In other words, Industry 4.0 can be integrated easily, even with legacy hardware.
Machining Insights is designed to give manufacturers greater visibility of machining processes and provide information to identify and eliminate downtime and inefficiency. This includes during periods of largely or fully-automated processes.
Let’s face it, one of the biggest threats to production is unpredictable tool life. For a tool to properly support automated production, limiting continuous, controllable wear and eliminating discontinuous, uncontrollable wear are the keys to success.
Sandvik Coromant’s specialists had this in mind when developing the CoroDrill 860 with enhanced -GM geometry, a new design solid carbide drill that’s optimized for a wide range of materials and applications, across all industry sectors.
Unique Approach to Design
For Sandvik Coromant’s specialists, the key to longer tool life is not limited to the amount of time a tool spends in use, but the drill design itself.
The CoroDrill 860-GM has an innovative, polished flute design. The ground-breaking design improves the evacuation of chips and yields greater hole quality, while also helping to reduce heat build-up and cutting forces while drilling. Other key features of the drill’s design include a reinforced core and corner chamfers, edge preparation to remove cutting micro defects and a double margin to enhance drilling stability. The drill’s point is also designed with refined clearance angles and improved surface quality.
The CoroDrill 860-GM is suitable for all applications where hole quality is critical. This includes aerospace, general engineering, oil and gas, nuclear and renewable power. Its optimised reliability is also proven in automotive production, including the drilling of engine blocks, casings, flanges and manifolds.
Tool Technology in Practice
As manufacturing becomes increasingly automated, unpredictable tool life is more of an issue. In Korea, an automotive manufacturer experienced this exact issue and worked with Sandvik Coromant to improve tool life.
The application used the CoroDrill 860-GM to drill through holes for automotive transmission connectors. Overall, eight 8.2 mm (0.32”) diameter through holes were drilled into each component that measured a depth of 10 mm (0.39”). The previous tool produced 200 components, 1,600 holes in total, with a cutting speed (Vc) of 80m/min (3,102 rpm) and cutting feed (Vf) of 381 mm/min. In comparison, the CoroDrill 860-GM produced 2,300 components (18,400 holes) with a Vc of 100m/min (3,878 rpm) and Vf of 814 mm/min.
The result was a significantly improved tool life of 1,150 percent, and a productivity increase that lowered the overall costs-per-part.
As well as facilitating longer tool life, these tools can deliver increased cutting data and therefore enable faster cutting rates. In fact, an engineering company in Lancaster, Ohio, was able to achieve a 57 percent faster cutting rate when using the CoroDrill 860-GM versus a competitor’s drill. The application used the tool to drill sensor housing components made from 304 stainless steel—11 holes in each, 6.6 mm (0.260”) in diameter.
To increase tool life, manufacturers must invest in Industry 4.0 technologies, like Machining Insights to monitor wear. That said, they must not overlook investing in strong tooling to begin with. Sandvik Coromant’s CoroPlus Tool Guide simplifies tool selection. By accessing the online application via a web browser and the entering workpiece material and application, users can find the best solid round tool and cutting data for their requirements.
Meanwhile, along with Machining Insights, Sandvik Coromant’s digital machining portfolio includes CoroPlus Process Control, a process control solution comprising both hardware and software. The solution monitors machines in real-time and automatically acts according to defined rules, rather than just providing an alert. Actions can include stopping the machine in case of a collision, or replacing a worn tool.
There are countless productivity, profit and maintenance advantages available to machine shops that are willing to overcome their reluctance to embrace Industry 4.0. Through the correct use of these technologies, manufacturers can go digital on their own terms—and be within the 30 percent of manufacturers, cited in IoT Analytics report, that are prepared for an unpredictable future.