Sheet metal system manufacturers such as Bystronic are developing networked solutions to sheet metal processing. APMEN was in Switzerland to cover the company’s latest developments.
With trends in the world market leaning towards Industry 4.0, Johan Elster, head of business units markets, Bystronic, said that the company is covering such trends with the following three main priorities: networked manufacturing, flexible processes and integrated automation.
Presently, many automated fabrication systems can be connected through software. This allows a digital network of intelligent machine systems to be formed. They plan and control this network and they can access information at any time, and intervene when necessary.
With new software and services, the company is creating the foundations for this development. One example for this is called the Bystronic manufacturing execution system (MES), which was developed in collaboration with Spanish software supplier Lantek. The software solution allows users to record, plan, and evaluate manufacturing steps of their sheet metal products.
The MES creates digital transparency across the entire added value chain of sheet metal products. All the steps from the incoming order to the shipping of the completed product are digitally recorded. This enables products to be manufactured according to defined costs and deadlines.
On the shop floor, it allocates the created cutting and bending plans to the resources of the available machines. This prevents mix-ups of production parts with allocated cutting or bending plans, prevents rejects. The MES also allows bottlenecks at manufacturing stations and long idle times to be avoided.
The system aims to provide “just in time” manufacturing, where procurement and logistics will provide the required materials depending on the order situation and supply them only as they are needed.
This means that the materials arrive at the manufacturing stations at the right amount and when required for current jobs. This makes the manufacturing processes leaner. Throughput times and tied-up capital are reduced and streamlined for efficiency in the event of fluctuating order situations.
Analysis & Visualisation
In order to make the quality, times, and cost of production transparent and optimisable, the company has also developed a new app that analyses and visualises the process data associated with sheet metal production.
The ByCockpit provides real-time information on sheet metal production processes. It visualises selected key indicators regarding machine performance and manufacturing efficiency. During the development of the app, the company’s IT specialists had a main guiding question in mind: How do users retrieve information from their machines, in order to analyse and improve their production processes?
They found out that the process of retrieving data from machine systems and subsequently translating it into usable information was tedious. The app, which is able to run on mobile devices such as smartphones or laptops, is designed to reveal deficiencies in the production processes.
Bird’s Eye View
A selection of approximately 30 widgets are available. Users can switch between pre-defined overviews or individually configure their own. The widgets include the Sunburst view, which is a circle diagram that displays the condition of the entire production at a glance. Green bars denote machines that are currently in operation. Red bars show machines that are idle. And blue bars combine all the systems that are connected to form an assembly line. Users can switch to the overview for the laser cutting process step. Here, the status widget displays the output (in kilowatts) with which the laser is cutting, the total operating hours of the system, and whether the next service should be scheduled.
Another widget in the laser cutting overview displays the overall equipment effectiveness. This parameter results from the factors machine availability, parts output, and the quality of the cut parts. In addition, the OEE widget allows a direct comparison to be drawn to previous production cycles.
For the overview of bending jobs, the performance widget provides information about the number of bent parts produced, the time required to produce them, and the number of tool changes. This overview allows the bending set-up times to be optimised.
The parts performance widget determines the development of the bending time for parts over time. A diagram provides a daily overview and thus reveals deviations in the production processes. It also enables a comparison to be made between manual and automated bending.
Taking The Step
Increasing complexity is changing the situation of many sheet metal processing companies. Mr Elster said, “What is needed in the market are price-sensitive solutions. Southeast Asia is an area with high price pressure on investment goods and also on the customer side; they also have a lot of competition.”
With many manufacturers in Southeast Asia looking to take the big step to laser systems or higher-end press brakes, the aim of such systems are for a small series right down to a batch size of one to be manufactured just as profitably as large series.
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