James Thorpe of Sandvik Coromant explains how, by combining advanced software with the correct machine tools, manufacturers can digitalise profitably, and on their own terms.
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 utilisation 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 minimising 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 optimised for a wide range of materials and applications, across all industry sectors.
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