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Schuler Develops System For Die Monitoring

Schuler Develops System For Die Monitoring

Among other things, the cameras detect the presence of foreign bodies, incorrect connections, and damage to the die or the part.

A wrench left behind in the die is every press operator’s nightmare. When the machine starts up, damage to both the die and the part being formed is inevitable. And a brief moment of carelessness like this can even have consequences for the entire system. To address this problem, Schuler has now developed its Visual Die Protection, a camera-assisted monitoring system that can eliminate costly die repairs, downtime, and even complete production stoppages.

In Visual Die Protection, not only do cameras detect the presence of foreign bodies such as wrenches or punch scraps: The system also checks whether the die is properly connected and verifies that the blanks have been correctly inserted, formed and removed. It is equally able to recognise both cracks in the part itself and potential damage to the centering and ejector pins. If any abnormalities are found, the press is stopped to prevent the situation from getting worse.

For this to be possible, the cameras first create reference images of the relevant die before production begins. During this imaging process, operators mark critical areas that require particularly accurate monitoring, such as the centering and ejector pins. While the production process is running, artificial intelligence is then used on a separate computer to perform a real-time comparison of current images with the original condition of the die, thereby allowing an immediate response if any discrepancies are found.


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Decomecc Optimises Blanking Using Schuler’s Laser Blanking Line

Decomecc Optimises Blanking Using Schuler’s Laser Blanking Line

At the latest Decomecc machine, the strip runs continuously from the coil into the laser cell. The growth-oriented and family-owned company based in Genk, Belgium, is specialised in customer specific blanking of aluminum strip and has been producing shaped blanks on a Schuler Laser Blanking Line since the beginning of 2019.

The flexibility of the line has played a major role for the investment decision. Within one day, new blank shapes can be programmed and integrated for production. Also the product change can be done with a few clicks without time-consuming changing of heavy dies. Decomecc also appreciates the material savings that can be achieved by an optimal nesting of the blanks. This way, significantly more parts can be produced per aluminum coil.

Neither Elaborate Press Foundation Nor Loop Pit Required

Blanking without dies is particularly useful for service centers such as Decomecc because the number of variants and thus the number of orders does not depend on the available storage capacities for the dies. Also, the laser blanking line does not require any extraordinary building infrastructure for the handling of the dies or special foundations for a press, which significantly reduces investment costs and facilitates installations in existing buildings. The continuous flow of the strip while cutting makes a loop pit superfluous.

The so-called DynamicFlow Technology is the heart of the system and ensures not only the continuous material flow but also an optimal material support in the blanking process. “This technology enables the production of blanks in outer body quality at a speed of up to 60 meters per minute,” explains Georgios Dermentzakis, the responsible sales manager at Schuler. “For example, a premium car manufacturer that commissioned two Schuler laser blanking lines in 2016 produces more than 40 hoods per minute.” Since then, the customer has invested in two more lines.

Although laser blanking lines cannot cover the full capacity of a conventional blanking line with a blanking press, in some cases, thanks to the DynamicFlow Technology, they can already reach 60 to 70 percent of the output depending on the contour. In addition, they have an Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of approximately 80 percent: “In many cases, new laser blanking lines offer a higher net output rate than existing conventional equipment,” says Dermentzakis.

The Decomecc system was the first Schuler laser blanking line to be installed in 2013 in Dormagen, Germany, and has been significantly optimised over a period of five years in terms of output rate and blank quality. At the end of 2018 the line moved from Dormagen to Genk. It consists of a conveyor system, a laser cell with three laser cutting heads and a robot for stacking the parts.

The laser cell consists of two laser portals in which the three lasers can move independently of each other. The continuous strip material is transported on telescopic conveyor belts through the cell and thereby supported over the entire surface. Directly beneath the 4 kW laser cutting heads, a mobile gap in the conveyor system allows the cutting slag to be discharged into the underlying separation system.

Homogeneous Blank Edges As A Result

Schuler relies on high-performance and high-precision ytterbium fiber lasers, which, in contrast to the CO2 lasers used in the past, only cause minimal edge hardening in the material. “In fact, you can see that the blank edges are homogeneous with laser blanking, while the edges with conventional blanking have a combination of compressed, cut and broken material areas,” says Dermentzakis. “In the laser blanking process, the material is melted in order to avoid burr, which can lead to increased cleaning effort in the following processes, especially with aluminum,” he continues. In this way, the laser blanking process increases the plant availability of the following forming processes.

Back to Decomecc: With just a few clicks in the visualisation, the blanking program of a laser is readjusted. Immediately afterwards, the result can be examined at the blanks, which are stacked accurately at the end of the system. The simple adjustment of the laser parameters offline or directly on line enables a good and fast process optimisation. Combined with the simple implementation of new laser programs, laser blanking is clearly recommended by Decomecc, for companies that produce a large variety of small batch sizes and need to change frequently.

Other companies have recognised this, too. Beside Europe, Schuler also has got references in China, the USA and South Africa. “The new technology opens up completely new possibilities in the blanking process,” says Dermentzakis. “With our laser blanking technology, we offer our customers significant added value and support them in securing their long-term competitiveness.”



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Thyssenkrupp Orders Farina Forging Press

thyssenkrupp Orders Farina Forging Press

16,000 tons of concentrated press force, 1,700 tons of weight and a height of ten meters: The Farina forging press, which thyssenkrupp Gerlach ordered from Schuler in April 2019, is one of the world’s largest mechanical systems of its kind. Starting in 2021, the GLF 16000 machine will form truck front axles and crankshafts at the Homburg site.

Schuler had taken over the Italian press manufacturer Farina in 2018. It is the leading European supplier of forged lines in the mid-price segment. thyssenkrupp has been so satisfied with a 4,000-ton forging press, which Farina had supplied in 2006, that the company again opted for the GLF series – but this time for a four times more powerful model. Schuler will manufacture the large press at its Erfurt location.

360,000 components per year

“The main press of the new forging line will be the world’s first eccentric press of this size, capacity and output to go into operation,” says Dr. Franz Eckl, COO of the Forged Technologies business unit. “It will produce around 360,000 forged components per year.”

thyssenkrupp has been manufacturing forged components at the Homburg site since 1947. With a roughly 750-strong workforce it is one of the region’s biggest employers. Construction of the world’s most advanced forging line is scheduled to start in early 2020. The roughly 12,000 square meter facility will be built on the existing site, with completion and start of production planned for early 2021.

Chassis Components Powertrain-Independent

The plant has long been one of the most efficient production sites in thyssenkrupp’s global forging network. It is market leader for forged crankshafts, supplying automotive customers worldwide. The production of truck front axles will open up a new market and product segment for the company. These chassis components are powertrain-independent and will continue to be needed even when e-mobility starts to make greater inroads into the transportation sector.

thyssenkrupp’s “Forged Technologies” business unit is now one of the world’s largest forging operations with annual sales in excess of one billion euros. Its product portfolio includes forged and machined components and systems for the automotive, construction machinery and general engineering sectors. thyssenkrupp’s forging business currently employs around 7,500 people.



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Schuler Delivers TwinServo Machine To V- ZUG AG

Schuler Delivers TwinServo Machine To V- ZUG AG

From the manufacturing process to die technology and value streams: As part of a comprehensive consulting contract, Schuler analysed the press shop of V-ZUG AG in detail. The recommendation to increase productivity was the investment in a 1,000 metric ton press with TwinServo technology. At the end of 2017, V-ZUG AG ordered the system that Schuler is now delivering.

Presses with TwinServo technology are driven by two separate torque motors in the press bed. The electronically synchronised drives are arranged in such a way that there is still plenty of room for the scrap chutes. The extremely high tilt resistance, combined with the reduction in deflection, leads to an improvement in the quality of the parts, reduces stresses on the die, and shortens the die tryout times.

So far, all sheet metal parts for the products of V-ZUG AG – such as washing machines, dryers, ovens, steamer and dishwashers – have been produced on hydraulic presses. The declared goal now is to gradually transfer the production to the servo press: “The coil line is designed in such a way that the machine can process all kinds of sheet,” explains Häfliger, “from galvanised sheet steel to the mirror-smooth chrome steel surface.”

Thanks to Schuler’s advice, the change of the dies with a weight of up to 32 metric tons and a size of six by two meters, which automatically move from the warehouse to the press, is reduced to less than 15 minutes: “Our employees are trained to handle every move”, says the project manager. “That allows us to produce even the smallest lot sizes.”

V-ZUG AG attaches particular importance to the fact that the machines – in which approximately ten kilometers of cable are laid – are prepared for the requirements of Industry 4.0. For this reason, Schuler not only used state-of-the-art bus systems and decentralised installation techniques, but also IO-Link-capable sensors. This means that the setting data of the sensors are programmed in the control and can therefore be exchanged without having to be readjusted by the service personnel.

The destination of the press, at the same time headquarters of the customer, is the city of Zug in Switzerland, located about 20 kilometers south of Zurich. Because there are many construction sites on the way to Zug, Schuler has to dismantle some of the installed components so that the heavy load can pass through the streets and bridges. During the construction of a hall for the first of the two machines, V-ZUG AG left a side wall open in order to drive in the large parts sideways on rails. The start of production is scheduled for the end of September 2019.



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Smart Press Shop Live

Smart Press Shop Live

Schuler offers a variety of digitalization and networking solutions for forming technology – Now, the technology and global market leader in the field of forming technology offers specific solutions for the age of Industry 4.0, also known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) – like the new  MSP 400 servo press. Contributed by Schuler

The 400 ton machine is still made of genuine iron and steel and suitable for both progressive and transfer mode, can travel at an oscillating stroke of up to 70 strokes per minute thanks to the highly dynamic servo drives, and thus offers high performance in this price segment. But at the same time, it already features intelligent software applications like the Smart Assist and the Optimizer.

“Schuler is putting forming technology on the fast track to the digital future,” notes CEO Domenico Iacovelli. Schuler has designed the control of the MSP 400 in the style of an intuitive smartphone app: operators can select from predefined movement profiles or program them freely. This significantly reduces the inhibition threshold for exploiting the machine’s potential. Thanks to the kinematics of the knuckle-joint drive, forming at the bottom dead center is also slower in itself. This means that readjustment via the servo drive is not always necessary.

The “Smart Assist” software guides the operator step-by-step through the setup process, supported by small videos and text modules. The electronic assistant optimizes the transfer and slide profiles to maximum output depending on the clearance profiles – a complex process that used to take a lot of time.

At the Hot Stamping TechCenter in Göppingen, Schuler is currently conducting a field test in the area of condition monitoring. Image Credit: Schuler

Process Monitor Integrated In The Control Unit

The process monitor integrated in the control unit offers extensive monitoring options. This ensures overload protection across the entire course of the press force profile and the entire movement profile; a minimum and maximum force can be defined for effective protection of the die. The response times of the electronically designed overload protection device are in the range of a few milliseconds, which is faster than with a hydraulic overload protection device. The press can be used again immediately after an overload has been detected.

The short stopping distances and quick response times are only possible thanks to the low mass moments of inertia in the entire drive train, which also lead to high dynamics during forming and other machine operation. While standard presses normally reduce the force in the event of an overload and drive the slide through the bottom dead center to the upper reversing point, the MSP 400 has a “Smart Release” function: here, the slide automatically runs back over a defined path after an overload has been detected, thus relieving the strain on the die and press.

Comprehensive Condition Monitoring

The integration of additional sensors – e.g. for acceleration, oscillation or pressure – enables comprehensive condition monitoring of the system, which can be displayed in the control system’s visualization. The basis for this is frequency spectra that provide information about possible wear in the gearing, bearing or motor. This prevents unplanned downtime and increases the productivity of the system. Furthermore, the process and condition data allow for complete quality control of the produced components.

Unlike a conventional press, the pressure points of the MSP 400 are not above the slide, but instead on the outside of the actual bed area. This allows the machine to absorb very high eccentric loads, and means that around 25 percent more press force is available to both the infeed and discharge sides. It is therefore possible to form even high-strength materials in the first die stage.

The geometric arrangement also gives the slide a high mechanical tilting rigidity. In addition, the deflection of the entire system is reduced because the drive is located far to the outside of the crown. This makes it possible to achieve die-friendly forming and better component quality. The electronic coupling enables force-independent parallel control: in the event of an eccentric load, the drives are readjusted on one side without any loss of force, and the slide can thus be held parallel.

At the Hot Stamping TechCenter in Göppingen, Schuler is currently conducting a field test in the area of condition monitoring. © MICHAEL STEINERT FOTOGRAFIE, 

“More efficient production and fewer rejected parts”

“The digital transformation of the press shop is already well underway,” says Domenico Iacovelli, Schuler’s CEO since April 2018. He adds: “Both major automakers and medium-sized suppliers can use the Smart Press Shop for more efficient production and fewer rejected parts. This means that we can give them the competitive edge they need.”

Schuler has also already demonstrated its ability to fully network different production facilities with its systems for constructing large-diameter piping (“Pipe ID 4.0”) and train wheels. Among other things, this process requires the availability of data necessary for determining and increasing the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). The data is prepared by the system so that a quick glance is all it takes for the production manager to determine the total number of parts produced, how many of these parts are acceptable, and which shift had the best performance.

The collected data also serves as a basis for functions like the tracking & tracing of safety-related parts. Among other things, the system links these parts to information about the starting material used and the material’s origin, about the system’s lubrication and drawing force, and about other production conditions. All of this makes it possible to provide a complete trail of documentation in the event of quality-related complaints.

To monitor the condition of individual components for changes, wear, or damage (a feature referred to as condition monitoring), Schuler is integrating more and more sensors into its machines; such as those which measure vibrations and temperatures, for example, so that this data can be intelligently processed and displayed. Currently, a large-scale field test is in progress in Göppingen involving a 1,600-ton hydraulic die hardening press, which produces parts for lightweight automotive construction from sheet metal heated to 930 °C.

Virtual Training For Operators Of Press Lines

The new virtual training system from Schuler’s Forming Academy serves as a basic training of the operators dealing with the real forming systems in the press shop. This takes place in virtual space while a new system is being put into operation or the production is already running. Thus, the production in the press shop is not disturbed and the operators can be optimally prepared.

These days, the most important thing a press shop is to deliver the demanded level of flexibility—for last-minute orders and smaller batch sizes—without sacrificing profitability. There is no other way to boost efficiency in the press shop than by carrying out an end-to-end optimization, one that also includes the entire flow of materials.

Optimizing the presses themselves is, of course, a key component of this process. What is referred to as overall equipment effectiveness, or OEE, can be determined by examining availability, efficiency and quality. By taking a wide range of different steps to increase OEE, press shop operators can tap into existing potential and increase productivity.

The “Smart Assist” software guides the operator step-by-step through the setup process, supported by videos and text. Image Credit: Schuler

Software Helps To Coordinate Slide And Transfer Movement Curves

One such step is to enlist the help of software. “The specialists at Schuler will then optimize the die and production parameters digitally,” says Schuler CEO Domenico Iacovelli, who also took over as head of Group technology upon being named to his current position. “With the help of software tools, we can perfectly coordinate the slide and transfer movement curves with each die, and can take full advantage of what the presses are capable of.”

In the span of an entire year, significantly increasing the stroke rate or decreasing the setup time will free up large amounts of otherwise unavailable production time. This additional time can be used to produce more parts on the same equipment or decrease batch sizes, and can also be used to perform preventative maintenance. This avoids unplanned downtime while maximizing availability and delivery capability.

A holistic view of the press shop quickly reveals widespread schools of thought, such as the notion that performing frequent setups decreases operating efficiency. After all, a wider variety of parts and larger batch sizes do in fact drive up warehouse volumes, and therefore tie up more capital. In order to reduce batch sizes, internal setup times need to decrease. Enormous amounts of untapped potential are waiting to be utilized with improved methods and preparation. Equally important is the necessity of storing dies in a well-maintained condition, so that sudden changes in the production plan can be responded to flexibly.

Full Mapping Of The Value Stream Improves Efficiency

As an equipment manufacturer and process consultant, Schuler partners with the lean management consultants at Staufen AG to offer extensive press shop analyses. These analyses are based on a quick check which illustrates the shop’s individual efficiency relative to the industry leaders. The analysis process involves a full mapping of the value stream for the flow of materials—from the time the materials are received all the way to the departure of the finished product from the shop—and provides recommendations for customized measures that can be taken to improve efficiency. Additionally, based on actual and target value streams, new ideal or real layouts for the press shop can be developed, both for new press shops (greenfield) and existing production facilities (brownfield).

When it comes to the actual optimization, the deciding factor is the ordering behavior of internal and external customers. In an ideal case, a press shop will produce in line with the customer’s own pace, and can therefore flexibly respond to demand fluctuations without the need for larger inventories. Running consecutively positioned stations as closely in sync as possible prevents an accumulation of large inventories and minimizes lead time.

As a general rule, permanent increases in efficiency will always take precedence over short-term, one-time effects. Huge untapped potential can often be found not only in production, but also in administrative areas such as production planning or container and shop-floor management. In the latter case, managers must have the ability to maintain regular communication while also using key performance indicators to manage and also to control processes. “The biggest benefit arises wherever process and management excellence are developed side-by-side,” concludes CEO Domenico Iacovelli.


Schuler: Monoblock Servo Press

Schuler: Monoblock Servo Press

Schuler has released the MSD-400, a servo press with a force of 400 metric tonnes that increases flexibility and efficiency of manufacturing, and hence productivity.

The servo press allows manufacturers to individually programme both stroke height an forming speed, while simultaneously reducing energy consumption at the same output level. As such, it can positively influence die service lives. With a coil line and roll feed, the press comprises a complete forming system.


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Press Blanking Line To Cut Steel

Press Blanking Line To Cut Steel

A smaller, but higher capacity press blanking machine at Volkswagen’s main production facility at Wolfsburg in Germany has changed the steel cutting workflow for the automaker. By Simon Scherrenbacher, specialist press officer for Schuler.

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EuroBLECH: Where Are You Going Industry 4.0?

EuroBLECH: Where Are You Going Industry 4.0?

When Industry 4.0 took off in Germany it rapidly made it to the headlines. With the digital agenda of the federal government it received highest political priority. But where stands Industry 4.0 in reality? By Dipl-Ing Nikolaus Fecht and Dr Andreas Thoss on behalf of EuroBLECH.

Theory describes Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution as full integration of production and communication technologies. It creates a so-called “smart factory”, where people, machines and processes are well connected by internet technologies for the purpose of increased cost efficiency, higher process stability and greater flexibility. After all, technological innovations should save time and money.

How does that look in real life? On one hand, there is an approach to scrutinise whole factories and to re-think and optimise all processes, from the first customer request to after-sales services. On the other hand many SMEs offer solutions for separate business processes. With special software tools, efficiency can be increased dramatically. Beside consequent digitisation of processes, there is a second trend coming up: While product lines are unified the single product is increasingly personalised. While this can lead to smaller lot sizes (even down to one), the new tools will help to retain profitability even then.

A Management Issue

Friedhelm Loh, the sole proprietor of the Friedhelm Loh Group with more than 11,000 employers, spoke on his experiences with the introduction of Industry 4.0 in the Rittal, Germany, factory for industrial control cabinets.

The product portfolio had been adjusted, until 2015 they reduced the number of products from 465 to 110. Five product lines were combined into one. In future, customers will define their purchase using an online configurator. The data from this configurator tool go directly into SAP and NC programmes. From initial material supply up to final distribution all logistic processes are fully automated. The whole process from “customer to customer” is digitally organised.

The cost savings in the process steps are between 15 percent (purchasing and sales department, after-sales service) and 50 percent (manufacturing). Mr Loh’s conclusion: “Only an integrated end-to-end solution which is consistently based on configuration and data, results in a continuous process.”

Within the Trumpf group, a new production unit Sheet Metal Processing has been set up as a fully connected factory. It is comparable to a conventional sheet metal job shop which is completely converted into a smart factory. They use and develop software tools from Trumpf ‘s proprietary solution portfolio TruConnect and their digital business platform Axoom. For a further optimisation of the production process they introduced a MES (Manufacturing Execution System)-system from the TruConnect tool box.

As the heart of the production planning, it evaluates the machine conditions and allows a paper free production with digital accompanying documents. Also, the topic intra-logistics will be optimised towards Industry 4.0 to automatise error-prone routine tasks.

Solutions For All

Not every company can or wants to implement Industry 4.0 in the form of an entire new factory. Today there are many solutions for separate processes, which serve the idea of higher efficiency by connectivity and specialised software.

It starts with indirect processes, that are all the steps in a job that take place before or after the actual manufacturing of the part, regardless of the batch size. As batch sizes shrink due to increasing individualisation, these indirect processes are no longer in proportion to the actual productive work (ie: production itself).

A study conducted by Fraunhofer-IPA (S-Tec) in collaboration with Trumpf found out that the costs for material planning may shrink by up to 75 percent in a smart factory surrounding.

Dominik Weibel and Marco Wüst, two Swiss entrepreneurs, have implemented a similar tool for a sheet metal processing job shop. Within their company eMDe Blechfabrik AG they developed an online system based on Trumpf’s online quotation calculator WebCalculate. Here customers can upload drawings and set material parameters and they receive a full quotation immediately.

After placing an order, customers can track the order throughout all processing steps including delivery. eMDe saves a lot of time with small lot sizes and retains an opportunity for price negotiations with larger orders. More such tools (or actually apps) can be expected soon when Trumpf’s spin-off Axoom becomes fully operational.

Smart software may also save money in manufacturing processes. For example Bystronic has developed a special software for planning a sheet metal cutting job. The online service ByOptimizer calculates an optimised cutting plan for the laser machine based on more than 300 parameters. Parts are grouped so closely on the metal sheet that the gaps (ie: raw material offcuts) are reduced to a minimum. The online service connects seamlessly with existing software, it needs just a few clicks to upload data and online service takes care of everything else. Cutting paths of the laser are reduced by half when a common cut allows for one cut instead of two. Bystronic promises material savings of up to 10 percent depending on contour shape and lot size.

It becomes more challenging if you have a new process and you want to find process parameters for cutting or drilling processes. It needs a well experienced operator and a number of trials to find optimal laser process parameters for a new material. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have collected simulation know-how for such processes for many years. Adequate simulations usually require a workstation and hours of calculation time, but experts have developed a simplified simulation tool for tablet use. In this app the user can play around with beam parameters such waist diameter and see, the processing result directly. This may reduce make-ready times considerably.

The simulation app from the Fraunhofer ILT allows playing around with process parameters with immediate return of the process changes in a neighboring window.

Another example of smart production will be shown by the Schuler AG at EuroBLECH trade fair. With their concept of a “Smart Press Shop” they want to show how networking solutions in forming technology can increase not only process reliability, but also cost-effectiveness in production.

For this purpose the entire system is simulated and optimised, including all press stages and automation components. The systems provide data measured by sensors installed at numerous points, for example to monitor the press force. This data also allows for a continuous operation control and allows for condition-based maintenance.

Alliances & Initiatives

Industry 4.0 is a key issue for German politics and so there are plenty of projects and events arranged in a national and international frame. Particularly engaged are the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Together with industry organisations and companies they have pooled activities and offerings for small and medium sized companies within the “Plattform Industrie 4.0”. If you think humans will disappear completely from the shop floor, you may consider a look at the so-called “Innovationsallianz 3Dsensation”. Founded within the founding initiative “Zwanzig20 – Partnerschaft für Innovation” of the BMBF companies and research institutions meet here to think about the future man machine interaction. It’s about making men machine interaction more intuitive, safer and more efficient.

With a budget of €100 million (US$112.2 million), partners of the consortium want to work on projects in the fields of manufacturing, mobility, health care and security. Of particular focus are 3D technologies that help machines to capture and interpret complex scenarios rapidly.

Risks & Side Effects?

Putting more services on the net and into the cloud brings a number of new risks on the table. So far, viruses and theft of data are more common on office computers. But with the Stuxnet worm that targeted industrial control systems, it is apparent that machine controls are not secure from fraud. On a recent meeting of the Association of German Engineers VDI the association’s director Ralph Appel said that the number of cyber-attacks on industrial plants or infrastructures of larger and smaller companies is much larger than the news reports, since many companies do not even recognise such attacks.

Accordingly, safety concepts are in high demand. One place where such concepts are developed is the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT in Darmstadt. There they built a Trusted Core Network (TCN) which tests the integrity of network knots to ensure that there are no foreign invaders. New participants such as robots, computers or machines are verified continuously and can be connected to the network.

Industry 4.0 is much more than hype; Many of its ideas are implemented already. Solutions for separate processes are in widespread use but the conversion of full complex process chains is still rare. The conversion of indirect processes promises quick wins, in particular if you try to drive profits for small lot sizes.

Detlef Zühlke, head of the technology initiative SmartFactoryKL eV and leader of the group Innovative Factory Systems (IFS) at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, DFKI, said recently at a large Industry 4.0 conference in Anaheim, CA, USA, that it will some more two or three years until the first systems will be running. But then it will become a global competition: “It’s a worldwide movement. Those who are too late with it will finally be the first to die on the market.”

The simulation app from the Fraunhofer ILT allows dynamic adjustment of the process parameters, immediately returning process changes in the adjacent window

The simulation app from the Fraunhofer ILT allows dynamic adjustment of the process parameters, immediately returning process changes in the adjacent window.

The simulation app from the Fraunhofer ILT allows dynamic adjustment of the process parameters, immediately returning process changes in the adjacent window.

The simulation app from the Fraunhofer ILT allows dynamic adjustment of the process parameters, immediately returning process changes in the adjacent window.


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Schuler Expert Assistance Right At The Machine

Schuler Expert Assistance Right At The Machine

How can Schuler Expert Assistance networking solutions in forming technology increase not only process reliability, but also cost-effectiveness in production? By Simon Scherrenbacher, corporate communications, Schuler

Many operators wish that their system can tell them exactly what the problem is. In the age of the Industrial Internet, machines that communicate are no longer something to aspire to in the future.

Electronic Assistant

Guiding The Setup Process

Schuler Expert Assistance Setting up transfer presses, for instance, is often a task reserved for absolute professionals: Harmonising the press, transfer and coil line for maximum productivity calls for a high level of expertise and skill. The Smart Assist from Schuler’s Smart Press Shop makes it easier for press operators to setup presses.

The electronic assistant guides the user through the process step-by-step with the aid of videos and graphics, optimises the movement curves of the slide and transfer automatically, and transfers the data to the overall system.

“Smart Assist considerably speeds up the process of setting up transfer presses”, explained chief technology officer Dr Stephan Arnold. “It ensures that parts are always transported reliably, and the fully-automatic optimisation of the movement curves, including acceleration and setting angle, also increases the output rate.”

Smart Assist—which also runs in addition to the press control system on a tablet or similar mobile end device—requests to move the slide and the transfer to specific positions one after the other. If the press operator presses “Teach”, these positions are stored. In this way, Smart Assist records the minimum transfer lift stroke required and all other relevant data.

The Schuler Expert Assistance optimum movement curves of the slide and transfer are then calculated based on the information collected and the parameters determined are transferred to the press control system. Practically all that remains for the operator to do is press the start button.

Needless to say, professionals are still sought after: In Expert mode, free programming of the movement curves of the slide and transfer is permitted—for asymmetrical transfer movements to further minimise spacing, for example. This enables even the last percent to be teased out to provide a maximum output rate for the transfer press. 

Quick Help Via Smartphone

Expert assistance is now available right at the machine with the Service app. Customers can quickly obtain answers to their questions and help in solving a problem via their smartphones, as experts assess images and videos, for example, sent to them via the app. “The Service App enables us to provide even better support for our customers, increase the availability of their systems and minimise downtime,” said managing director Axel Meyer, head of the service division at Schuler.

“In general, problems are solved more quickly by engaging in a dialog with the experts from Schuler via the software, which offers intuitive operation. Customers receive assistance from us via their smartphones, while they are still standing next to their presses,” Mr Meyer added.

The cause of the problem is relatively easily found with the aid of the photos or videos that the customer has taken on-site at the line using the app, with the problem ideally solved there and then. If a component needs to be replaced, then the user can record it using the camera on their smartphone and send a request to Service straight away with the aid of the part number.

Providing New Insights

The Machine Monitoring System (MMS) provides new insights into presses: With the aid of comprehensive system monitoring, availability can be increased, production and parts quality can be improved, and energy consumption can be lowered.

The system monitoring model combines a variety of existing solutions. An integral part of the MMS is the intelligent diagnostics, which automatically archives and evaluates physical variables and control states when specific events occur. This enables rapid fault analysis.

The state monitoring function monitors the system at regular intervals for damage and wear, using torque curves and structure-borne noise analyses, for example. Thanks to this state-based maintenance, components only need to be replaced when they have actually reached the end of their life, and not just because they have been in operation for a specific amount of time.

When it comes to process monitoring, the focus is on machine protection. Permanent logging of parameters such as press force or vibration progression enables a cycle-accurate response in real time, where necessary. Process reliability is thereby also improved.

Data Management

Energy monitoring involves recording and evaluating all measured variables which are relevant for energy efficiency and network quality, such as power consumption, voltage dips or harmonics. This means that not only can system operators save energy costs, in some circumstances they can also obtain investment grants and favourable loans.

The production data acquired includes all planned and unplanned downtimes including their causes, fault messages, target/actual production and the quality of the parts. In this way, the system operators gain an overview of the production status and a basis for calculating the overall equipment efficiency.

Last but not least, all quality-relevant data is recorded and archived for each part produced. This enables the manufacturer to provide the necessary proof for items such as safety parts.

Networked presses allow operators to receive assistance from their smartphones, while they are still standing next to her

Networked presses allow operators to receive assistance from their smartphones, while they are still standing next to her

With the aid of comprehensive system monitoring, production and parts quality can be improved, while lowering energy consumption

With the aid of comprehensive system monitoring, production and parts quality can be improved, while lowering energy consumption


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