In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Uwe-Armin Ruttkamp of Siemens Digital Industries talked about how digitalisation is helping machine builders and users, the utilisation of data to improve manufacturing processes, as well as how umati will help push the metalworking industry forward. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
One of the highlights of Siemens’ booth at EMO Hannover 2019 is the latest generation of its Sinumerik One, the first digital native CNC aimed at driving the digital transformation in the machine tool industry. Siemens has also extended its Industrial Edge offerings for Sinumerik Edge to include more new applications to help machine tool users improve workpiece and process quality, increase machine availability, and further optimise machine processes.
With Sinumerik One, machine tool manufacturers can virtually map their entire development processes, significantly reducing the product development phase and time to market for new machines. This helps machine builders significantly reduce the duration of actual commissioning. Its virtual model opens up new possibilities for manufacturers and operators—machine concepts and functions can be discussed even before real hardware is available.
Sinumerik One enables machine users the programming of workpieces in the virtual environment and the setup and operation of machines completely on the PC. Employee training can also be carried out using the digital twin instead of the actual machine. These hardware and software innovations help machine builders and operators speed up processing steps significantly.
In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Uwe-Armin Ruttkamp, Head of Machine Tool Systems, Motion Control Business Unit, Siemens Digital Industries, talked more about the benefits of these new technologies and how digitalisation is helping machine builders and users. He also discussed the utilisation of data to improve manufacturing processes, as well as how umati will help push the metalworking industry forward.
When we look at the current potential for these technologies and all that they involve, are they more suited to advanced markets such as Europe or the US?
Uwe-Armin Ruttkamp (UR): I wouldn’t say so. You have all kinds of industries also in Asian countries. Not everything is low-cost and price-driven; they are also technology driven, especially aerospace, automotive industries, or the upcoming additive manufacturing.
So, there’s a lot of technologies driving the industries. In addition to this, labour is not staying on this low-cost level—in Asian countries, people want to earn more money as well—so saving time, and saving cost by saving time, is also an issue for Asian countries.
How does this technology play out in the smart factory concept?
UR: It plays perfectly into that concept, because with our Digital Enterprise (DE) Portfolio we offer a holistic end-to-end solution including industrial software and automation that allows the use of a seamless value chain. This value chain consists of five steps for the machine user, and five steps for the machine builder. If you build a machine, you start with a concept, mechanics, you go to electrical design, you go to engineering, you go to commissioning, and sometimes, it also needs service.
For the machine user, there are also several steps needed to build a part. Get the machine on the shop floor, create a part, build the part, check it for quality, and ship it. And this complete concept is the basis for running a smart factory.
In a lot of these steps, Sinumerik One brings great benefits. For example, in machine engineering, people in the offices can engineer the machine. You don’t need to have a test rack next to your desk, and you don’t need to go to the shop floor to test the applications. You can do it all in the virtual world. That’s one perfect example of an Industry 4.0 application that people will get from our Sinumerik One concept.
How do you see digital twins being implemented by customers in Asia?
UR: I see a lot of customers thinking about it. We talk to many customers, including those in Asia. We, for example, are customers of our customers. We have factories ourselves. And we only buy machines where we can get a digital twin beforehand. We make it a prerequisite for purchasing a machine, that it comes with a digital twin. And I believe in future many other users are going to do the same. The benefits are huge. You can train the people, who are going to operate the machine, before the machine is even delivered. And even more, you can also do the run-ins, do the first test of the programs, and know the cycle time of the production, before the machine is delivered.
Does siemens have a benchmark so that when machine users’ data are analysed, they will determine whether they are doing okay or they are falling short?
UR: We offer from our service department a digitalisation check. Together with our customers we examine their factories and give them advise what digitalisation measures are in place to get to another productivity level. It’s a consulting approach not a benchmark.
More and more people are talking about the lights out factory. how are you helping customers go into that level of manufacturing?
UR: Lights out factories are not new. When you go into an automotive factory, for example they produce the same part over and over, it is relatively an automated production. So, what they have done, of course, is to use a CAD/CAM chain, which, out from the design of the piece, create the program to build the piece, download it into the machine, and run it. Of course, this is something we support with our DE portfolio. You can put a program into the machine remotely, and then run it automatically. But of course, it requires in-feed of the materials and taking out the material and the pieces produced. But then again, you need automation, and the complete tool chain and software, like NX for example, or TeamCenter, to have a data backbone for all the production information about the part. But there are other companies focusing on job shops, so they produce many different parts every day according to customer specifications. For them it does not make sense run a fully automated line. So, a lights-out factory for them is not possible.
One of the highlights of emo 2019 is umati. How are you supporting this initiative?
UR: We support it 100 percent. We are part of the initiative and helped it to get to the point where we are today. At Siemens our solution to serve a universal interface for machine tools is based on our industrial edge concept. Edge computing is the perfect solution for this. For example, one wants to have a central dashboard, which shows the amount of cooling liquid used per hour. Cooling liquid per hour is not stored as one piece of information in all the machines in the same way. You need to have some sort of programming that knows where that data is stored in the machine and sends it out in a uniform way. Our Siemens industrial edge concept is perfectly suited for this, because OPC-UA is built into our edge devices. This allows the machines to communicate the data provided based on OPC-UA, and the user can program a little piece of code into it to acquire the data out of the machine.
The specifications for umati is still being finalised. during its early development, what were the challenges that you experienced, and are they still a challenge now?
UR: From a technical perspective, it’s not difficult, because it is OPC-UA, and it is a definition of data. It is basically a companion stem based on OPC-UA. The difficult part was to get an agreement among all parties which data they want to support, or which use cases they want to support. Once umati defines which piece of information has to be programmed, it’s done. It’s relatively simple.
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