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Software Increases Process Reliability

Software Increases Process Reliability

Here’s how a quality data management software has helped Metabowerke GmbH to optimize its measuring and manufacturing processes. Article by ZEISS.

If employees at Metabowerke GmbH, a manufacturer of professional power tools and accessories, find a piece of chocolate at their workstations on the first workday of the new month, then everyone knows that the previous month was a profitable one. The chocolate is one way that management shows its appreciation, and this is hardly a one-off occurrence. Employees think so highly of their employer that, as the result of an employee survey, Metabo was named “Best Employer” amongst mid-sized companies in 2014 by the German magazine Focus.

Achim Schmid, Quality Coordinator in the Housing Technology Center, shares his colleagues’ high opinion of Metabo. For him, the approximately 1,100 employees in Nurtingen are always ready to give 110 percent because company management acknowledges everyone’s contributions. 

“We know that at Metabo, our opinions and know-how matter,” says Schmid. The company’s flat hierarchies make sure that everyone is heard and can actively contribute.

There is an interdepartmental mindset at Metabo that encourages employees to work with their colleagues from different areas. This approach played a key role in the company’s decision to purchase ZEISS PiWeb quality data management software. After Control 2015, an international trade fair for quality assurance solutions held in Germany, Schmid was personally “more than convinced that Metabo would benefit from using ZEISS software. But first I wanted to make sure everyone else was on board.”

The software was presented to employees and discussions were held, some of which were attended by ZEISS representatives. The end result: Metabo ultimately decided to invest in ZEISS PiWeb sbs in the middle of 2016, and has been using this software in the Housing Manufacturing department at their site since December.

Wireless Systems Instead of Cable Spaghetti

When attending the trade event Control 2015, what initially impressed Schmid about ZEISS PiWeb was the possibility of transferring manually captured measuring and inspection data directly to the system via a wireless connection.

“I really liked that you could easily integrate manual measuring tools,” says Schmid, who has been working at Metabo as quality coordinator for almost 31 years. The feature was “ideal” because various manual measuring tools are in use at the measuring stations in the Housing Manufacturing area. Prior to the introduction of ZEISS PiWeb, these systems were connected via cables, which not only limit employees’ mobility but also broke quite frequently, making it impossible to transfer the data to the system. The technology was not very reliable, and uptime was limited because the measurement plan had to be processed at one go. This meant that captured data could not be saved in between measurements.

“But now, these problems are a thing of the past thanks to ZEISS PiWeb,” says Schmid. For example, if an employee is measuring the gearbox housing of a flat-head angle grinder, they just need to open the corresponding measurement plan in the ZEISS software. The employee moves the cursor to the appropriate field in the table comprising a total of 17 characteristics, which must be measured by hand. With the push of a button, the employee transfers these data from the manual measuring tool to the system. If the value is within the stipulated tolerance, then a green dot appears immediately. A red dot indicates that the workpiece does not meet the quality requirements for this characteristic. It used to be the case that the employee would have to change software and then search for the corresponding data set in the statistics solution. Now, they can view the measurement values for the previous 500 measurements just by using the report templates in ZEISS PiWeb.

“This way, our team sees immediately if this is an outlier or if there is a trend towards exceeded tolerances,” says Schmid. This knowledge enables Schmid and his colleagues to steer the production process more quickly than before.

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Tools At The Touch Of A Button

Tools At The Touch Of A Button

Walter AG supports its customers with high-quality product data, which is available from tool data management systems and online libraries such as MachiningCloud. Article by Walter AG.

A focus on the needs of customers sets machining specialist Walter apart, including when it comes to providing digital product data. Konstantinos Bountolas, Product Data Solutions Manager at Walter, summarises the company’s data philosophy as follows: “Product data that is ready to use enables our users to find, choose and assemble tools more quickly when it comes to designing, planning, NC programming and purchasing, as well as on the shop floor.”

Walter’s strategy of focussing on its customers is also geared towards the customers’ procurement preferences. “We leave it to our customers to choose where they would like to access the product data for our tools. Everyone has their own preferred channels for obtaining this data. All that matters is making sure that we provide our data exactly where our customers are looking for it,” he explains. Walter mainly relies on the “channels” of MachiningCloud, the e-catalogue for TDM and Tools United.

Walter On MachiningCloud

Customers around the world can access more than 40,000 Walter tool elements on MachiningCloud. “MachiningCloud is perfect for us,” underlines Konstantinos Bountolas. “There, we present our tools in virtually the same way as in our catalogue. Thanks to Walter’s standardised product designations, the way in which the products are presented and the logos that customers are familiar with, users will find our products without fail on MachiningCloud.”

Walter E-Catalogue For TDM

MachiningCloud and the Walter e-catalogue for TDM have similar functions, such as product specification lists (cutting diameter, projection length, length of cutting edge, the direction of rotation, etc.), 2D drawings, 3D models, photos and descriptions. But the Walter e-catalogue for TDM goes into even greater detail. With an average of 20 parameters, it contains all the information that is required by a CAD/CAM system. The e-catalogue can also be linked to ERP software via TDM. Konstantinos Bountolas confirms: “It’s not good when customers have to manually re-measure missing properties, such as lengths and diameters and have to manually enter parameters. Customers want product data at the touch of a button.”

Tools United

More than 900,000 tool components from 36 different manufacturers, including Walter, are stored on the Tools United tool platform. The platform provides NC programmers, buyers, tool managers, project managers and design engineers with product data based on their requirements in standardised formats and common export interfaces for tool management systems and CAM systems.

Optimising Processes With Apps From Walter

Optimally prepared digital product data, which the company provides to its customers across different platforms, is just one part of the digital product range. Walter offers a whole host of apps for various applications in the machining process. These include apps for wear optimisation, for ascertaining the ideal indexable inserts, for calculating starting values and for configuring special tools.

Walter eLibrary

The Walter eLibrary app provides access to all printed catalogues and brochures in 17 languages. PDFs can be printed out as individual pages. The app is optimised for use on all devices.

Walter GPS

The Walter GPS machining navigation system is another way of finding the right tool without fail. It supplies tool and cutting data recommendations perfectly adapted to the machining task at hand, along with information on the machining strategy, cost-efficiency calculations and more. Konstantinos Bountolas is certain that “with Walter GPS, we definitely have one of the best applications for tool recommendations currently available on the market.”

Walter Machining Calculator

The Walter Machining Calculator supplies cutting data for milling, drilling and turning machining operations. For example, torque, drive power and machining volume, as well as the main operating time, main cutting force and chip thickness. In addition, a simple cost comparison of two tool solutions is possible with the integrated profitability calculator.

Wear Optimisation app

This helps increase the tool life by visualising forms of wear and illustrating the causes of wear.

Walter Insert Converter app

The Insert Converter specifies exactly which Walter indexable insert is compatible with the solution that is currently in use.

Feeds & Speeds app

Walter Feeds & Speeds calculates starting values and the cutting speed and feed for turning, drilling, threading and milling.

Walter Xpress

Walter Xpress configures special tools using an interactive online form and is available for around 10,000 defined variants.

Konstantinos Bountolas summarises: “We are convinced that high-quality data is the basis for optimising customers’ processes. With our digital solutions, we are paving the way towards Industry 4.0 for our customers.”

 

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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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