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Save Time & Reduce Scrap With Tool Setting

Save Time & Reduce Scrap With Tool Setting

Tool setters can lower human error, which is often a major source of delay on the shop floor. By Fredrick Wong, MTP product manager, Far East Renishaw

For any manufacturing company to be a market leader and become more competitive, it is vital to reduce costs, increase productivity, maintain quality, and provide timely delivery. These goals demand a comprehensive approach to manufacturing process improvement.

Eliminating operator intervention is an obvious place to start, as human error is the major source of delay and non-conformance in many factories. One simple and easy way to enjoy the benefit of automation and to maximise the performance of machining operations is the use of tool setting solutions.

Tool Setting And Broken Tool Detection

To ensure that the tool can be brought accurately to the component during machining, we need to establish tool dimensions and record this information in the CNC control’s tool offsets. The traditional method was to make a trial cut and measure the result, but this is time consuming and prone to human error.

Off-line pre-setters are another method, but crucially do not allow the tool to be measured in-situ, and therefore fail to account for dynamic effects, including pull-up where the shank settles in the spindle nose, and tool/spindle run-out.

A tool setter can measure the length and diameter of tools during the machining operation, and store the data in the CNC machine. This means that tools can be introduced to the part and cut close to nominal, avoiding manual ‘cut and measure’ activities and operator errors introduced whilst keying height offsets (a major source of crashes in shops).

The advantage of using the tool setter not only limits to just length and diameter measurement to identify a broken tool, but also provides automated on-machine measurement.

On form tools, a tool setter can check for tool projection and stop the process if a tool assembly has been built incorrectly — vibration and chatter can be induced in tools that are over-extended, adversely affecting process capability. It can also check delicate tools for breakage after each cutting cycle to ensure that a single broken tool does not result in further damage to tools and parts. This increases confidence in unmanned machining.

Accurate & Versatile

The growth in on-machine probing is being driven by technology advances that make machine tool setters more accurate, more productive, easier to use, and easier to afford. Tool setting products are referred to as ‘contact’ or ‘non-contact’, depending on the technology they employ.

Contact Tool Setter

Contact tool setting systems require physical contact between the device and the loaded tool. Systems can be further classified as ‘plunger’ style, ‘probe’ style or as tool setting arms (used for turning centres).

Contact tool setters such as the Primo LTS from Renishaw allows users to set tool length, check for breakage, and compensate for thermal growth on a CNC machining centre.

The tool setter is a single-axis, hard-wired product with an integrated interface for straightforward electrical connection: the hardware can be bolted onto the machine table and be operational with no additional set-up required. It is resistant to swarf or coolant ingress and prevents false triggers caused by shocks or vibration. An integrated air blast provides swarf removal when necessary.

Automated on-machine tool length setting is also faster than manual methods, and the tool setter is suitable for use on small to large CNC machining centres. During the machining process, dimensional accuracy is dependent on a number of variables, including tool length and tool breakage. The tool setter monitors these variables automatically, enabling users to compensate for variations which may occur and benefitting the overall machining process.

Non-Contact Tool Setter

Non-contact tool setting systems employ an optical (laser) beam to detect tool presence. Systems can be sub-divided into ‘fixed’ systems (transmitter and receiver units housed within a single assembly), or ‘separate’ systems having individual transmitter and receiver assemblies. Non-contact tool setters can also check for breaks and/or chips on a tool’s cutting edge.

Examples include the NC4 and TRS2 from Renishaw. The former is a flexible laser tool setting system, with a laser tool setting transmitter and receiver units that can be mounted on separate brackets, or as a single fixed unit. The latter is a single-sided, non-contact, laser-based tool breakage detection device.

The NC4 allows non-contact tool setting and tool breakage detection on machines previously unsuitable for such applications. At 30 mm in diameter and 35 mm high, it allows for probing on machines previously unsuitable for larger non-contact tool setting and tool breakage detection systems. Depending on system, separation distances and mounting, it can measure tools as small as 0.03 mm in diameter at any selected point along the beam, and check for breakage.

The TSR2 allows detection of solid tools on all sizes of vertical and horizontal machining centres, all gantry machining centres and multi-tasking machines. The single unit can be mounted outside the working environment, saving space on the table.

Once positioned within the machine tool, cutting tools pass through the TRS2 laser beam in between cutting and tool change operations. When broken tools are detected, the machining process is stopped or a replacement tool is substituted via the automatic tool changer. The setup has potential for scrap reduction and improvements to process control.

Real-Life Applications

Munjal Castings is part of the Hero Group, and caters primarily to Hero Majestic in the automotive industry in India. The company has two plants where it manufactures aluminium die cast components using 20 machine tools. The aluminium and zinc die cast company supplies 600 tonnes of castings each month with a turnover of 1.5 billion INR (US$22.9million), and key customers include Hero Motor Corporation Limited, Suzuki Group, Hyundai, Hero Cycles, Nissan, Tata, GM, and Daimler Chrysler.

P L Arora, senior vice president of Munjal Castings, said: “Maintaining quality, cost and delivery within stringent deadlines is our company’s unique selling point, which has helped us to stand apart from others. Daily, we supply 200,000 castings with 150 different component types to the automobile industry.”

Increasing OEE

A major challenge to overcome was frequent tool breakage, which caused delays in production and led to high levels of scrap and financial loss in terms of materials and time. Sixteen units of TRS2 systems were installed at Munjal Castings to address this challenge. The TRS2 determines whether a tool is present by analysing reflective light patterns and ignores any that are created by coolant and swarf, thereby eliminating false indications of a broken tool.

Machines with the contact tool setter installed saw overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) increased from 50 percent to 76 percent.

Following this, the target is to increase the OEE to 85 percent. Previously, 250 finished components were produced daily on each machine. After installation of the systems, production increased to 270 components per day. 

Munjal Castings' machines with the contact tool setter installed saw overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) increased from 50 percent to 76 percent

Munjal Castings’ machines with the contact tool setter installed saw overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) increased from 50 percent to 76 percent

Upgrading Fibre Laser Cutting With Automation

Upgrading Fibre Laser Cutting With Automation

Automated entry-level solutions for laser cutting offer benefits such as reducing user workload and more efficient loading and unloading cycles. By Jean-Pierre Neuhaus, head of corporate communications, Bystronic. 

Automation solutions for fibre laser cutting offer a competitive advantage. They maximise the capacity utilisation of the laser cutting system and reduce the user’s workload with regard to the time-consuming material handling. Both these factors mean that cutting jobs are performed faster and at lower cost.

“Our experience shows that particularly in highly competitive markets, companies that automate their laser cutting system have a competitive edge,” Bystronic product manager Martin Bauer explained, hence the offering of various automation modules.

Fibre Laser Cutting

The BySmart Fiber system by Bystronic already focuses on the fast and cost-effective cutting of parts. The company now offers the choice between two automated systems, the ByTrans and Byloader.

The ByTrans loading and unloading solution organises the material flow on the BySmart Fiber automatically. It loads raw metal sheets onto the laser cutting system’s shuttle table. After the cutting process, it also unloads the finished parts and residual sheets.

The complete loading and unloading cycle takes 60 seconds, meaning that the system takes less time than the cutting plan that is being processed. For users, this means laser cutting without the interrupting set-up times. This is because the loading system loads one shuttle table while the laser system is cutting on the other table.

Space-Saving Loading

The Byloader automation system is a compact loading unit that is positioned on the side of the laser cutting system’s shuttle table. The system supplies raw metal sheets to the laser cutting system without taking up unnecessary space.

The company has integrated the control of the two automation systems into the BySmart Fiber’s operation system, allowing both systems to be operated using a single interface.

Optimised Production Flow

The overall concept of an optimised production environment from the incoming order to the finished sheet metal part could also be established around the laser cutting system with the company’s BySoft7 software.

The software automatically plans, initiates, and monitors part production and offers immediate access to all relevant production and machine data.

The Byloader loads the shuttle table and requires little space

The Byloader loads the shuttle table and requires little space

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Bystronic: Going With The Flow

Bystronic: Going With The Flow

When made possible by automation and digital connectivity, Bystronic everything flows automatically. 

At the EuroBLECH 2016, Bystronic demonstrated such a sheet metal flow where its fully-automated Production Cell cuts, transports, bends, and sorts sheet metal parts in an effortless manner.

With the Production Cell, Bystronic effectively demonstrated sheet metal processing work in the age of Industry 4.0. Bascially, a networked manufacturing solution for the cutting and bending of sheet metal products, it goes one step further towards automation and cross-process solutions, and the interlinked system becomes a fully automatic production cycle.

It’s All About Networking

The heart of the Production Cell is a laser cutting system called ByStar Fiber 3015. The system cuts various metals of various sizes before it subsequently goes through to bending and delivery of the finished sheet metal products. Inside the ByStar Fiber is a newly developed and fully automated cutting head with a Spot Control function.

The ByStar Fiber is directly linked to the ByTrans Cross loading and unloading system. The system supplies the necessary raw metal sheets and removes the cut parts and residual sheets from the fibre laser system’s shuttle table at an incredible speed. The modular-designed ByTrans Cross system allows it to be integrated in a variety of production environments. The use within the Production Cell is only one of many possibilities. Here, the ByTrans Cross is connected to a warehouse, effectively creating a bridge between the fibre laser and the warehouse.

Full Integration

After cutting and unloading, the parts can be sent to a bending station. This process is now integrated into the Production Cell. An Xpert 150 press brake in the form of a fully automatic bending station, cut parts via the storage facility, and then on to a material deposit for the bending machine.

The bending station has a tool magazine, where the robot can fetch the required tools and install them in the Xpert. Everything is kept simple: Add new tools to the magazine, a sensor on the robot automatically detects them, transmits the information to the bending software, and the new tools are stored in the system.

After the bending process, the robot sorts the finished parts and places them in separate storage areas. All that the user has to do now is to pack, label, and ship.

Finally, when all the parts have been cut and bent, and are ready for delivery, the Plant Manager sends a message to the ByCockpit or to the user’s ERP system. Then the shipping department knows that the job has been completed and the parts are ready for shipping.

FMG For Automatic Manufacturing Concepts

With the takeover of the Swiss FMG company, Bystronic will provide its customers with greater support in the field of automatic manufacturing concepts.

FMG is a specialist company for warehouses, material handling, and sorting systems based in the Swiss municipality of Sulgen. Since 1989, it has supported its customers with end-to-end solutions in the fields of process and production engineering.

The FMG brand will continue to exist after the takeover, and as a member of Bystronic, the company will continue to work with its production, sales, and service structures. René Kuster and Thomas Messerli are responsible for the management of the company.

Bystronic CEO Alex Waser says: “With this step, we are merging know-how from the fields of machine engineering, automation, process engineering, and IT. In future, this will enable us to offer our customers unique end-to-end solutions with integrated automation and handling systems from a single source.”

Innovation Partners With Lantek

The demand by many users for automation and digital process solutions is increasing. This trend is being intensified by impulses from the field of Industry 4.0, which are changing the world of sheet metal processing. Software plays a key role in this transformation. Software solutions support users in the planning, interlinking, monitoring, and optimising of all their processes.

Recognising this, Bystronic and Lantek have inked a partnership agreement to support their customers with process solutions. A first goal of this partnership is the development of an MES solution. This will enable Bystronic to expand its existing range of software solutions with an integrated Manufacturing Execution System. This MES solution will help customers to integrate automation solutions and digital processes into their production landscape.

“The Lantek technology portfolio is wide and deep, and Bystronic’s excellence in machine construction is world renowned. With innovation a part of the DNA of both companies, this partnership will help Bystronic’s customers transform how they manage Bystronic machines and transcend the established boundaries in the sheet metal industry”, comments Alberto Martinez, CEO of Lantek.

Bystronic CEO, Alex Waser, says: “With Lantek, we have gained a strong partner who will help us expand our existing software portfolio with new solutions. This partnership will provide our customers with twofold know-how.”

The alliance marks this milestone for the two companies as they celebrate their respective 30th anniversary in 2016.

Innovation partners: (L-R) Alberto Martinez,Lantek’s CEO and Bystronic CEO Alex Waser.

Innovation partners: (L-R) Alberto Martinez,Lantek’s CEO and Bystronic CEO Alex Waser.

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Efficient Sawing In A Digitised Environment: Kasto Industry 4.0 Machinery And Equipment Are Key

Efficient Sawing In A Digitised Environment: Kasto Industry 4.0 Machinery And Equipment Are Key

The rise of new Digitised Environment industrial technology, referred to as “Industry 4.0”, is transforming the business models of distributors, manufacturing plants and service providers throughout the world, and Southeast Asia is no exception. By Armin Stolzer, owner and chief executive officer, Kasto Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 Machines, goods, raw materials, load carriers, transport equipment and locations are no longer isolated; they are globally linked and interconnected by means of information networks. Production and logistics are merging, and the integration of processes is increasing. Handling tasks are becoming more and more automated. Digital technology controls the value chain from the producer of raw materials to the final customer.

This has created immense opportunities for companies Digitised Environment Machinery And Equipment Are Key, but it has also confronted them with new challenges. Competition is becoming more international and thus more intense. Only by standing out from the crowd and offering customers genuine value can a company stay competitive in the long run. At the same time, expectations in the market are increasing. Customers are demanding more and more different products, and these must be produced in smaller batches. Production must be fast, free of defects, flexible, inexpensive and reliable.

Speed, Versatility, Precision

In the metalworking industry, for example, sawing technology must meet increasingly tough requirements. Industry 4.0 Machines and tools must not only be fast and versatile, they must also produce cut parts with precise dimensions and surfaces of excellent quality. When the parts are burr-free and reproducibly precise, less work is required for reworking. This raises production efficiency.

Moreover, users want to minimise losses at the start and end of the cut and other kinds of waste in order to make optimum use of the material. For this, high-quality sawing technology tailored to the given requirements is indispensable. When it comes to cutting bar stock in the skilled trades, manufacturing and steel processing, further increases in efficiency and cost-effectiveness can be expected in the future. In each sector, the potential for improvement differs depending on the material, order structure, production volume and personnel costs.

In particular, metal sawing machines for various purposes have been significantly improved through technological progress, with notable increases in cutting performance. Moreover, material handling for sawing has been simplified, with shorter idle times, automation of the material supply and better removal of cut parts.

Automation Kasto Industry 4.0 In Sawing Technology

The Southeast Asian market therefore has a huge demand for innovative and high-quality sawing technology. Efforts are being stepped up in all industries to deploy networking and automation to rationalise production processes.

This is where sawing machine manufacturers can provide users with optimum support. Even the standard versions of many modern sawing machines offer a high level of automation and can be integrated without difficulty into a uniformly controlled materials flow.

This is also true of combined sawing and storage systems in which all the storage, handling, sawing, marking, palletising and bundling processes are performed fully automatically—from the entry of the raw material through to the commissioning of the cut parts. These tasks are increasingly carried out with the help of industrial robots. The requirements relating to performance, efficiency and flexibility are steadily increasing, and these are areas in which robot technology offers enormous potential.

When it comes to saw blades, carbide tools promise significantly improved performance in the machining of various materials. There have also been enhancements in ergonomics and design, including incorporation of strict safety standards.

An increasing division of tasks is arising between high-volume steel suppliers and manufacturers on the one hand and smaller metal-processing companies and manufacturers on the other. The latter need low-cost, universal sawing solutions to cover a broad range of sawing applications, while high-volume producers are investing in highly automated sawing facilities with the aim of cutting personnel costs and running their machinery for long hours without staff.

Carbide-tipped sawing tools are finding increasing use in high-volume production with band saws and circular saws because they considerably reduce sawing times.

Carbide Tools, Advanced Performance

To take full advantage of the increased performance offered by carbide tools, a machine must be massive, robust and optimised to prevent vibration. Thanks to its excellent damping properties, polymer concrete is often preferred to gray cast iron for this purpose.

Other important requirements include greater drive power with a corresponding drive design, modified cutting edge feed, protection of teeth when the blade is retracted and adequate chip removal. Today’s sawing machines also include advanced components for driving, guidance and sensors. More than in the past, it is now possible to provide low-cost, custom solutions by means of fully enclosed machines based on a modular design. Modern machine control systems make it easy for operators to enter engineering and job data.

Companies that do made-to-order sawing in small and medium-sized quantities are increasingly relying on sawing machines with carbide tools. On the feed side, these machines often have magazines or are connected to a sawing centre, allowing them to run fully unattended for long periods. In addition, the outfeed side is modified to cut back on manual sorting and palletising. Robot solutions are flexibly integrated into the machine design so that cut parts can easily be sorted and other machining steps like deburring, milling or centering can be added.

Lowering Cost Per Cut

From the broad range of modern sawing machines in various performance classes and automation levels, the perfect solution can be found for every application. Significant advances in sawing and tool technology have brought about substantial reductions in production times and idle times. Although the necessary high-end peripheral equipment can be more expensive, when applied under the right conditions it can significantly lower the cost per cut and raise overall productivity.

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