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Forming Technology Meets Edge Computing

Forming Technology Meets Edge Computing

German Edge Cloud (GEC), which specialises in edge and cloud systems, is cooperating with Schuler, a machine and plant building company. In this context, Schuler is offering a track-and-trace solution for press plants within the Digital Suite, based on technology from German Edge Cloud. The Schuler Digital Suite with the “track-and-trace application powered by GEC” is being used, among other things, in the Smart Press Shop, a joint venture between Schuler and Porsche.

The ability to trace components, driven by the automotive and aircraft industries, is rapidly gaining in importance. Through their cooperation, Schuler and German Edge Cloud are combining expertise in forming technology with skills in edge and cloud technology to achieve greater transparency and networking in production and across the entire value chain. This joint solution is already being employed in a pilot project: Smart Press Shop GmbH & Co KG, a joint venture between Porsche and Schuler with a fully networked press shop in Halle an der Saale, Germany, which is being used for the flexible production of body parts for Porsche and other producers.

“With our data-driven press shop and the associated Schuler Digital Suite track-and-trace system, we are responding to our customers’ call for easy-to-use total solutions,” explains Domenico Iacovelli, the Schuler Group’s CEO. As a companion on the path to digitalisation, the company is thus ensuring complete transparency in production: “In the event of any product recalls, for example, the entire supply chain can be traced – without any gaps – and the cause of the fault can be quickly identified.”

GEC supplied a central software module for the track-and-trace system while Schuler is also developing additional modules based on the “user-centred design” approach. The front end can be run on various mobile devices. This allows the two companies to optimally pool their resources.

“Both Schuler and the Friedhelm Loh Group with German Edge Cloud are driving innovation in industrial SMEs,” says Professor Friedhelm Loh, owner and CEO of the Friedhelm Loh Group. “Together, we are now combining state-of-the-art press technology with future-oriented edge and cloud expertise from a single source to achieve added value for our customers.”

Track-and-trace meets edge cloud appliance

German Edge Cloud brings its many years of expertise in the development and project planning of integration projects in manufacturing to the new collaboration and future-oriented industrial solutions based on Premise Edge ONCITE. One key benefit for users is full data ownership and sovereignty so that expertise and critical production data remain in the right hands. Furthermore, the track-and-trace system is compatible with the public clouds of major OEMs as well as hybrid clouds, such as the private Schuler Cloud.

Complete proof of quality

The joint solution from Schuler and German Edge Cloud is designed for complete production traceability. One key component is a track-and-trace system that guarantees full traceability within production processes, based on consistent data.

The track-and-trace system provides quality data and it enables continuous production status queries and full transparency of the current production process, among other things. Furthermore, parts can be identified rapidly in the event of a fault.

The scalable “Track & Trace powered by GEC” solution, which runs on Schuler systems and other presses, results in specific added value in quality, scalability, cost efficiency, and transparency during production. In the first stage, the application enables traceability. In the future, it is also to be designed for connection to such overarching systems and programs as SAP ERP and it will form the basis for artificial intelligence (AI) for production optimisation.

Implementation on a greenfield site: the “smart press shop”

The joint track-and-trace solution from Schuler and German Edge Cloud is already being tested in the Smart Press Shop, an intelligent, fully networked press shop for the flexible production of car body parts. The plant was built on a 13-hectare site in Halle an der Saale and started operation this June.

The project aims to raise to a new level the production efficiency and digitalisation of important process stages in automotive production for forming technology. In addition, shorter logistics routes reduce production-related carbon emissions and will, eventually, permit a “zero impact factory”. Parts are pressed and assemblies are manufactured for Porsche and other brands of the Volkswagen Group in the Smart Press Shop. Other OEMs are expected to follow suit.


Discovering The ‘Digital Suite’ In Action

Discovering the ‘Digital Suite’ in Action

In the beginning of this year, Schuler presented its “Digital Suite” solutions for networking forming technology. At the Blechexpo trade show from October 26 to 29 in Stuttgart, users can see for themselves the practical benefits of this technology on the example of a C-frame press type CFL 160.

“Schuler is the first press manufacturer to also offer fully networked C-frame presses,” clarifies Managing Director Frank Klingemann, who heads the Industry Division. “This means that we have now digitised almost our entire product range.” However, operators who want to prepare for the Industrial Internet of Things do not necessarily have to replace their presses: “We also offer many solutions that can be retrofitted for existing systems,” adds Service Managing Director Torsten Petrick. “They help with the start of production, ongoing operation, and maintenance.”

Schuler will also be showcasing its mechanical transfer presses, which are available both with and without servo drives, and its hydraulic lines for the production of parts for lightweight automotive construction – be it with hot stamping, hydroforming or fiber-reinforced plastics (composites). For many applications, Aweba provides the appropriate dies. The Schuler subsidiary also supports its customers from the automotive and supplier industries in the transition to e-mobility: with dies and die casting molds for electric motors or battery housings.


EuroBLECH Launches Digital Innovation Series For 2021 In April Focusing On Forming Technology

EuroBLECH Launches Digital Innovation Series for 2021 In April Focusing On Forming Technology

EuroBLECH is launching the Digital Innovation Series 2021, providing an essential marketplace and business platform for the international sheet metal working industry which has been impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The event series will deliver a set of targeted curated digital events to allow companies from across the globe to come together on one platform to exchange knowledge and expertise, discover innovations as well as conduct business meetings to discuss manufacturing solutions. The series of events will take place during the course of this year.

The organiser of EuroBLECH, Mack Brooks Exhibitions, has announced a new online event series for the international sheet metal working community. The event series provides a dedicated virtual market place for innovative manufacturing solutions, knowledge transfer and worldwide business contacts on a brand-new online platform. The EuroBLECH Digital Innovation Series is a much-anticipated trade and networking event for the global sheet metal working community, presenting a broad programme for trade professionals including virtual product presentations, expert webinars, and a new meeting option. Visitors can participate for free and register online now.

Hosted online from 27 – 28 April 2021, the first event of the Digital Innovation Series will be focussed on Forming Technology including Sheet Metal Parts & Materials as well as Tool Technology and will offer visitors the opportunity to discover latest developments and innovations of exhibitors. A webinar series will address challenges and provide fresh inspiration to boost productivity and efficiency, increase margins and present new technology solutions.

“Following the launch of the EuroBLECH Digital Innovation Summit in October last year, we have listened to the feedback of all participants. Many wanted to see more targeted content and a much clearer focus on products and innovations”, explains Evelyn Warwick, Event Director of EuroBLECH. “Hence, with the launch of the brand-new Digital Innovation Series, we are acting upon the feedback we have received, with three curated digital events. The first one is set to take place in April, with a spotlight on forming technology. Visitors will be able to participate in live product presentations, arrange meetings and use a new chat functionality to get in touch with suppliers. In addition, a webinar programme focussed on forming technology will provide latest insights into this technology sector”, continues Evelyn Warwick.


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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.

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Beyond Punching

Beyond Punching

Machine design, tooling and programming software combine to make today’s punch press capable of complex forms. By Dan Caprio, punching product sales manager at LVD Strippit

The introduction of the hydraulic press drive decades ago brought new versatility to the punch press – allowing the punch stroke to start and stop at any point along the ram path. The flexibility of the ram control coupled with automatic tool rotation technology opened the door to a broader range of punching and forming capabilities. The control and programming system’s ability to integrate special functions allowed users to take full advantage of the latest tooling designs, such as a wheel, hinge or bend tools.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century: the modern punch press is more capable than ever when it comes to forming, including the processing of complex, 3D parts. Today’s punch press can create bends in sheet metal that until recently only a press brake could produce.

Being able to form a part on a punch press can help significantly reduce parts costs. Bending is one of the most common bottlenecks in the fab shop, which is why shortening or eliminating the bending operation makes so much sense.

Not Your Conventional Punch Press

To form on a conventional turret punch press, you might have a feed clearance of only .984 inch or less. Part of that space is taken up by the form die, which raises the material slightly, and then you have the material thickness.

Some tools allow you to use a significant portion of that clearance, but as a rule, you can form reliably in a space that’s only 50 percent of the total feed clearance minus the material thickness. That’s not much.

New punch press designs, however, have clearances that take forming into account. Some systems make room for up to three inches of forming space from the lower dies to the upper punch. This allows for significant forming and bending, including the forming of flanges up to three inches high.

These punch presses don’t have the traditional turret setup, but instead use what is known as a tool-changer design. In the tool-changer-style punching machine, the lower carousel is underneath the brush table, and dies emerge and retract through a die to move down and out of the way between hits.

Bending Tools

This punch press design opens the door for more forming possibilities, and not just for ribs, louvers and other short forms, but also the kind of tall flanges that would normally be formed on a press brake. The bending punch and die in a punch press are a hybrid between a panel bender and a press brake, with some unique attributes. The punch looks like a miniature hold-down tool on a panel bender, while the die has a V geometry similar to what’s found on a press brake die.

The die body actually rotates during the bend. This rotation folds the workpiece against a stationary upper punch, and the die’s degree of rotation determines the bend angle. The radii you can achieve depends on the V-die design, which can be determined when ordering the tool from the manufacturer. Or, if you need to achieve a certain radius, such as for a profound-radius bend, the die rotates at certain degrees to bump the metal as the piece progressively moves forward. It’s bump bending, punch press-style.

Accounting For Thickness

Tolerances are extremely tight, both in the positioning accuracy of the machine and the machining accuracy of the tool, similar to the tolerances available on a modern press brake with precision tooling. Press operators also can input changes in thickness. Say one batch of material is on the lower end of the thickness tolerance window, while the next batch is at the high end, such as 0.055 inch for one batch and 0.061 inch for another batch.

This can make a difference in the bend angle, but as long as the operator checks the sheet thickness and makes the parameter change in the program, the machine can account for it. A change in the program code is made that tells the ram how far to come down before it performs its operations.

Besides the 3 inch height limitation, there are other constraints to consider. Unlike a press brake operator, a punch press can’t flip a part over, so a part with both positive and negative bends can create problems. Also, the angle of bend is usually limited to 90 degrees or less; acute bends greater than 90 degrees complementary aren’t practical, for the most part (depending on the tooling you have). And because of tonnage limitations, the material can be only so thick. This varies, depending on your punch press and tooling, but typically it is up to about 0.118 inches.

Programming Strategies

When you bend on a punch press, your programming options abound. Traditionally, you program the forming sequence at a point whether it won’t interfere with any other part. This usually means you’re forming near the end of a nest’s punching sequence, after most or all of the flat-part punching is completed.

At this point you may decide to bend all the flanges in a part at once. You cut the profile, leaving tabs connected to the nest to ensure part stability’ bend the flange, then perform the final punching to cut the tabs and release the part so it can slide down the chute. This strategy can work well if you want to evacuate the formed part from the nest as soon as possible to avoid collisions with the tools.

Alternatively, you can punch the profiles (minus the material for the tabs) on multiple parts – say, all the parts in one row – form the bends, then send them all down the chute with the final punches that cut the tabs. This strategy reduces the number of tool changes and so can reduce the cycle time, but works only if there is no danger of interference between the flanges and the tooling.

Consideration Of Tabs

Tabs keep the part stable during bending, but where exactly you put those tabs, their width, how many, and how they’re cut depend on the flange geometries. Some pieces may call for only a few or even just one tab at a flat section of the part. Other times the bending operation itself can break the tabs. This can be useful when bump bending. During such a sequence, the microtabs holding the part in place break, and after the last bump, the part breaks free and slides down the chute.

Programming also needs to take into account how exactly these parts slide down the chute. For example, if a large, heavy part with a high flange slides down the chute incorrectly, its landing may be rough enough to change its bend angles slightly or it may land on other formed parts with enough force to change their bend angles. You can overcome these problems by making changes to the program.

Software Makes A Difference

It’s possible to program these variables manually, but it can be complicated and time-consuming. There are plenty of details to consider, including which way to rotate the bend tool (the tool set rotates 360 degrees to align with the programmed bend lines); how to position and sequence everything to avoid interference; and which width of bending tool to use, depending on which tool you have in your library and the bend length you need.

In more challenging cases, manually programming may not be very efficient, and it actually may take you less time to form the flanges on the press brake, especially if those parts are heading to the brake anyway for a few remaining bends.

Determining Sequences

This is where the final piece of the puzzle comes into play: software that can automate the task of determining the punch and bend sequences. With such software, you can feed the 3-D model of the part you want to bend on the punch press to the software, and it will unfold the part and suggest strategies to punch and bend it, based on the tools available on the machine.

The offline program works similarly to offline bend programming for press brakes. It sees the interference points, knows just how the tool needs to rotate, and sequences it in an efficient way.

As a programmer, you can either accept the software’s recommendation or tweak it manually to suit your needs.

Beyond Punching

Tolerances are extremely tight, but operators can change parameters to suit different thicknesses.

Beyond Punching

When programming a punch press, taking into account how exactly the parts slide down the chute is important. A large, heavy part with a high flange may be rough enough to change its bend angles slightly.

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