Japan-headquartered global machine tool giant Yamazaki Mazak (https://is.gd/ukupih) summed it up nicely with its exhibition stand catch line: ‘It’s all about Industry 4.0’. That was the central thread that was unavoidable at the EMO 2017 exhibition held in Hanover last month. The pace at which this area is developing is quite astounding; you might have been forgiven a couple of years ago were you to have thought that it was all supplier hype. To be sure,
it is still more talked about than practiced, but its application is going to grow fast, because the technology to support its easy implementation is becoming increasingly available from multiple sources. To be honest, there are so many developments that it can be rather confusing.
So let’s start with Mazak’s practical example to draw one real and available picture of Industry 4.0, with the more productive running of machine tools as the core aim here. The company’s approach is based on its Smooth CNC and Mazak iSMART Factory technology. It is a system implemented at the firm’s factories around the globe and all the machines on the Mazak EMO stand were connected and displaying real-time data. In addition, several Mazak factories in Japan, China, Singapore and the UK were connected and displaying production data.
Mazak machines with Smooth CNC use the standard MTConnect protocol (www.mtconnect.org) to transfer data, with this effected via Smartbox, which makes use of CISCO System’s latest secure network technologies and FOG computing concept (see https://is.gd/viweta for more on FOG), which basically means secure connection plus the local collection and processing of data within a company network, rather than via a cloud-based solution.
The software that monitors and analyses the available manufacturing data is Smooth Monitor AX. Accessible via a smartphone or tablet, this displays all aspects of a factory’s operations, including alarm analysis and energy consumption, through to machine analysis, including tool utilisation and spindle load history. It can also monitor maintenance status and history as part of a factory’s maintenance plan. This allows overall factory productivity to be monitored and improved by analysis.
CONNECTIONS FOR ALL
All well and good for modern machines, but what about older Mazak models and machines from other manufacturers? The answer here is the Mazak Sensor Box, with data collected via this converted into the MTConnect format and then handled by Smooth Monitor AX.
Like Mazak, Okuma (NCMT, https://is.gd/obukon) is another company that develops its own CNC capabilities, based on industry standard hardware in the main. Okuma promoted its Connect Plan solution. This sees machine utilisation status visualised through its Factory Monitor PC software that takes information from the company’s Okuma’s OSP suite CNC software via the MTConnect protocol. With this set-up, it is possible to create work plans and manage work progress, with control of everything from utilisation to progres and delivery offered.
Okuma too offers connectivity solutions for older machines, Okuma and non-Okuma, via its ‘Net Box suite-C’ that allows for connection to networks via MTConnect. And, in similar vein to Mazak, security of machine tools is provided by ‘Net Box suite-S’, which prevents unauthorised access to machine networks.
On the Citizen Machinery (https://is.gd/ajoxim) stand, new Italy-written Industry 4.0 software was given a first showing (see also p7). This saw three stand machines (two Miyano and one Citizen) connected to manufacturing execution system (MES) software that received orders then auto started the machines to produce three parts that would become a miniature engineer’s vice, with the recipient getting an email to confirm when his ‘order’ would be ready for collection – the MES software displayed machine production statistics on the stand, too. In fact, this was a simplified example of an Italian installation at pneumatic components maker Metal Work that comprises eight Citizen machines that are permanently tooled and ready to receive orders from around the globe via, at the top level, SAP software.
Makino’s (NCMT, https://is.gd/obukon) development, ProNetConnex, was fresh out of the box, with only sketchy information available at EMO, although its US-facing website (www.makino.com) does, in fact have details. Key to its implementation is a CISCO Systems box that provides machine connectivity (MML, MTConnect and OPC UA) to both its own MES software, MPmax, as well as a variety of third-party software data collection and analysis tools that the previous firms did not similarly highlight at EMO.
Developed to optimise machine processes, MPmax takes in analysis tools and capabilities, including spindle load, speed and vibration monitoring. Third-party solutions highlighted were server/cloud-based Forcam (https://is.gd/eruhaq) and the Trumpf-backed cloud software platform Axoom (no English language website), both companies of German origin. Forcam is offering a free trial at its website (https://is.gd/vuweji), for which you’ll need MTConnect connection capability (but for the commercial version there is a wider choice of connection possibilities). Either way, Makino says it can offer additional machine-located sensors to expand data collection capabilities.
On the WFL stand (Kyal Machine Tools, https://is.gd/qekaza), its machines, which sport Siemens control (https://is.gd/zazesa), were connected to Siemens’ MindSphere cloud platform and were using newly launched MindSphere app Manage MyMachines that reduces unplanned downtime and increases efficiency levels. But it was also using another cloud platform, from a company called Comara that late last year was majority acquired by Sandvik Group cutting tool company Walter.
The pair have, in fact, been working together since 2012. Upon the acquisition, the official statement read: “Walter AG is expanding its expertise with Comara and will therefore be able to connect tools with greater sophistication and optimise them using real-time data in future. Combined with the existing ‘Walter Tool•ID’, this will give rise to the production of ‘Smart Tools’ in future. With ‘appCom’, Comara offers machine manufacturers and industrial companies their own platform for individual apps – special software modules in the production environment. In collaboration with Walter, the aim here is to develop further solutions and make them available to other machine and device manufacturers and to end users. A new business area for Walter with great future potential beyond tool optimisation.”
Other companies working on Industry 4.0 include United Grinding (Studer, Schaudt, Mikrosa, Blohm, Magerle, Jung, Walter and Ewag –www.grinding.com), which said that it was working on a smart factory solution, but that it would show something when it was ready. It would, however, include items called Remote Service, Production Monitor and Service Monitor, all rather self-explanatory.
But to return to the cloud-based app platform theme, as expressed by Siemens’ MindSphere and Comara’s appCom (and also Fanuc’s developing FIELD system, see below), there was a major initiative announced by DMG Mori (https://is.gd/omawuy) and a few partners; the creation of ADAptive Manufacturing Open Solutions (ADAMOS).
This is aimed at supporting smaller machine tool builders by providing them with platform and app services that they sell to their customers as a service (having bought them first from ADAMOS), thus avoiding having to invest in developing their own solutions.
The group wants to establish ADAMOS as a global standard for industry and the companies involved are machine tool builder DMG Mori, degreasing/cleaning specialist Dürr (https://is.gd/awojap), metrology specialist Carl Zeiss (https://is.gd/geloza), global expert in software and cloud computing Software AG (www2.softwareag.com) and IT specialist ASM PT (www1.asmpacific.com). ADAMOS GmbH and the ADAMOS App Factory were due to launch world-wide on 1 October 2017, with case studies promised by early next year.
To stay with DMG Mori a little longer, it has had a non-cloud app-focused approach with its CELOS CNC interface and related PC software for some years, and has more than 10,000 units in the field, but is now opening up its CELOS ecosystem, which comprises 26 apps, to other machine makes via its CELOS NETbox connection solution and CELOS PROtab tablet-based user interface combination.
Okay, so this all sounds like we have the standard protocols that allow companies to connect away, choosing the various connection protocol possibilities. But it isn’t quite the whole picture, and that was the focus of a major initiative announce by German machine tool builders’ association the VDW.
Communication protocols govern the rules syntax, semantics and synchronisation of communication plus possible error recovery methods, they do not cover the transmitted information. The missing element is the data format; that is not standardised.
“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 requisite software,” said Dr Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, chairman of the VDW, at EMO. Involved in the first phase https://is.gd/bogocu are DMG Mori, Emag (https://is.gd/gosuya), Grob (https://is.gd/yoyuva), Heller (https://is.gd/nujupe), Liebherr-Verzahntechnik (Wright Manufacturing Services, https://is.gd/oyivey), United Grinding, Trumpf (https://is.gd/bogocu) and the VDW.
Courtesy of such a standard, data from different CNCS of many generations could be tranported in a standardised format. “This is the basic requirement for the success of Industry 4.0, especially in medium-sized firms,” added Prokop.
Initial results are expected at the beginning of 2018, with the following aspects to be implemented first: joint development of an interface specification; implementation of a so-called connector stack that translates signals from different controller interfaces according to OPC UA; and implementation of a gateway that allows a secure connection to different IT systems and clouds on the basis of the OPC UA data structure via standard protocols.
A first aim will see around 30 data records described. A second phase will see the interface to the “rest of the world” defined, rather like HTTPS, but with access to data regulated, so a gateway will be specified and implemented. The third phase will see the solution tested with providers of infrastructure and cloud services “that meet the needs of small- and medium-sized machine manufacturers in particular”.
And if the VDW data interface represents the bottom end of networking, there must be a standardised platform at the top for which each machine manufacturer can develop its own smart apps and which would be part of the core business of every machine tool provider in the future. “This means the provider could deploy his expertise to optimum effect and differentiate himself from the competition,” Prokop concluded. Obviously, ADAMOS would like to be that platform, but so too would Siemens with MindSphere, Fanuc with FIELD, AXOOM or Comara, no doubt.
Industry 4.0 is already within the grasp of many machine tool using companies via technology solutions from a few larger suppliers of machine tool or CNC technology. The ability at large to easily connect machinery from many suppliers and freely choose apps from cloud platforms is still some years away, but probably no more than four to six, Machinery suggests. When it is possible, Industry 4.0 will be just another plug-and-play technology.
Tooling suppliers get smart
players, but two tooling-related developments were also heralded at EMO, one from Ceratizit (WNT UK, https://is.gd/urinet) and the other from Sandvik Group (https://is.gd/uxiput) tool management expert TDM Systems. Said Hugo Nordell, director Digital Solutions, Sandvik Machining Solutions (includes Sandvik Coromant and other group tooling brands): “Sandvik is assuming a leading role in the digital transformation of tooling with the introduction of TDM Cloud Line. The TDM cloud solution enables customers to accelerate their engineering process, simulate the use of various tools and securely plan production on the basis of comprehensive, precise tool data. TDM Systems is our systems partner because of its many years of experience with tool data management and it is able to provide users with a fully mature solution.”
TDM Cloud Line is based on the TDM 2017 Global Line tool management system. The key advantage of cloud is that users can download and manage data from thousands of tools (from a TDM cloud catalogue of verified accurate and complete tool data), without having to purchase them. This allows alternative tools to be tested and the optimum one selected. At present, the company says, users only have data from tool manufacturers available to them, which can vary both in quality and depth. Data from the TDM cloud is qualified, available anywhere and is ready for immediate usage in the virtual cutting process.
Explained Peter Schneck, CEO of TDM Systems: “The digital development process often still fails as a result of data gaps and media breaks in the tool area. The quality and availability of tool data are crucial to the success of metal-processing companies. Our cloud-based solution marks the start of the digital transformation for users. We regard ourselves as drivers of digitisation for all of tool lifecycle management – from selection to recycling.”
Nordell, who has a track record as a digital services entrepreneur, also heads up new Sandvik Group operation CODE (Centre Of Digital Excellence), which is looking at providing products, systems or services that, he explained, places Sandvik Group tooling expertise within users’ hands, making them the experts. And it is an outward-looking operation, he added, suggesting a partnership approach is acceptable.
For Ceratizit, cloud-based tracking of tools and their history (number of regrinds, for instance) is the centre of its system, with a current project underway detailed involving the development of smart products. In this, its tools are marked with a one-time unique data matrix code that complies with the well-recognised and widely used Global Trade Item Number (GTIN – www.gtin.info). And via established cloud platform One Identity (www.oneidentity.com), users can scan, using the free One Identity phone app, a tool’s code at point of use to discover information about it, such as is it genuine, how many times has it been reground and what are its associated cutting data. Data sheets with codes on them were handed out at EMO to demonstrate the system, but this is still a developing project.
FANUC pushes FIELD
To be launched in Europe in October 2018, Fanuc’s (https://is.gd/atenun) Industry 4.0 activity is encapsulated within its FIELD approach – FANUC Intelligent Edge Link and Drive. At EMO, a live network of 150+ machines underscored its capability, with current data presented on a central monitor. FIELD is open to both FANUC and non-Fanuc CNCs, connecting them to its MT-Linki, about which the company says: “FANUC MT-LINKi is a PC software that connects the machines in the factory by Ethernet and it collects, manages and makes visible various information of the machine.
“It can connect not only machine tools with FANUC CNC but also peripheral devices like PLCs corresponding to OPC communication and collect information. In addition, it contributes to make the machine IoT, because information, such as various sensors connected with the machine, can be collected.”
FANUC favours on-site processing for real-time data needs (so-called Edge computing), but there is also cloud connectivity available and where, for example, artificial intelligence algorithms can be run to analyse data in non-real-time.
FANUC also proposes an open app store that allows customers to call down apps that have been written by third parties for use on their CNCs. Partners in FIELD’s development include CISCO Systems, Rockwell Automation and Preferred Networks (for artificial intelligence).
FIELD is already being employed in GM factories with robots in a Zero Down Time initiative (see https://is.gd/obukid). And quoting Jason Tsai, vice-president of product development, FANUC America, www.automationmag.com wrote in November last year: “FIELD will take manufacturing automation to the next level by allowing devices to intelligently coordinate and collaborate in a flexible manner to achieve sophisticated manufacturing practices. Basically, it all comes down to the way FIELD connects parts of a factory to its central analytics ‘brain,’ so that incoming data from many sources can be analysed on an ongoing basis by the analytics program. The analytics can therefore produce an updated ‘big picture’ on which improved decisions can be made.”