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The Recipe For Centennial Success

The Recipe For Centennial Success

Ahmad Alshidiq speaks with Martin Reichenecker (Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and Spokesman of the Board) and Borries Schϋler (Chief Product Management and Engineering Officer) from The Hoffmann Group on the company’s recipe for standing strong for 100 years.

Martin Reichenecker (Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and Spokesman of the Board)

Borries Schϋler (Chief Product Management and Engineering Officer)

The Hoffmann Group is a leading system partner for quality tools, combining trading with manufacturing and service expertise. It supports over 135,000 customers with supply capability, assured quality and enhanced productivity in meeting all their needs for machining tooling, clamping, measuring, grinding, as well as workstations and storage and personal protective equipment.

This year, the headquarters based in Munich is celebrating its centenary with excellent prospects. In 2018, the Hoffmann SE with its subsidiaries achieved record sales of more than EUR1 billion, the number of employees grew to more than 3,000 and the company is continuing to grow organically. Hoffmann SE develops and steers the corporate strategy and orientation of the entire Hoffmann Group together with its long-standing partner companies. In 2018 the Hoffmann Group comprising Hoffmann SE and its partners generated a turnover of more than EUR1.4 billion and employed approximately 3,700 people.

100 years in the industry is a significant milestone. What has Hoffman done right to be an industry leader for such a long time?

Martin Reichenecker [MR]: For 100 years, we’ve been flexible with our offerings and products. Today, we are the number one in Europe in quality tools, cutting tools, hand tools, metrology, etc. I think what has brought the company success is we are always focussing on the clients´needs, trying things and learning fast. We’ve been pioneer in some fields of tools distribution. We had our first printed catalogue in back in 1936 and in 1998 we established the first web shop in the industry. There has always been a good combination of traditional, well used and modern aspects (in our offerings) which helped the company to reach a revenue of more than EUR1 billion in 2018. We are also serving many different industries, not just any particular one.

Borries Schϋler [BS]: We also employ the right people that grasp Hoffmann’s philosophy in serving our customers.

Any changes Hoffmann has made in this era of Industry 4.0 from what they offer previously?

MR: In 2009, we already had our first wave of digitalisation called 360-degree tooling and provided our customers with electronic tool files across a complete cutting tool assortment. And we also started building data-based solutions for our customers.

What’s your most breakthrough technology and why is it important to the industry?

MR: Two years ago, we launched the high performance drills GARANT Master Steel SPEED and FEED and opened up a new performance class allowing the customer productivity rates. It was not so normal that time. Another technology from Hoffmann is the TPC and the Parabolic Performance Cutting – a further development of ball-nosed slot drilling cutting and also known as barrel milling. These solutions offer customer high productivity.

BS: In August this year, we will be launching our new constant grid dimension. Today, different manufacturers have different grid dimensions for cabinets, work benches, trolleys and so on. And from Hoffmann, you will get all the items in the same grid dimension. This will offer you space for customisation and long-term investment protection, and this is a technical step ahead as it is a complete system. With the GARANT GridLine series, the Hoffmann Group is now the first supplier to offer a completely integrated modular concept in its product range, which includes even the smallest details such as partitioning materials and rigid foam inserts for drawers.

Hoffmann’s own brand GARANT is one of the biggest tool brands in Europe, it is the only brand with which you can completely equip the whole workshop. Customers have given trust to this brand and they know we are delivering everything – whether it is cutting tools, metrology, hand tools, grinding discs or workshop equipment.  With GARANT, you have one brand with the whole portfolio for your mechanical production.

Where do you see the biggest opportunity for Hoffman in the forthcoming years?

MR: Hoffmann became very international in the last 15-20 years, having expanded from countries in all over Europe to North America, and to Asia. We are a young and small player in some markets but the opportunity is huge for us. Product-wise, we still have a lot of ideas on what can be brought into the market. And last but not least, on process optimisation for customers. From application to ordering process, we want to optimise the whole process end-to-end.

What’s your strategy in Southeast Asia?

MR: We learned a lot about the market in the past year, and we discussed and adjusted our approach in the region – much focus is on Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

What is most important in addressing present-day challenges in digital manufacturing?

BS: I would take it a bit wider with digitisation, completely. I think digitalising internal processes can be handled; it’s just a matter of time and how many resources you have. In developing digital business models, you have to have the right people and certain creativity in your staff. For me, the challenge will be when you have a higher transparency of data and team members have to take bigger decisions in a shorter period of time. You have to have the right people who can perform this when time calls for it.

Milestones For The Hoffmann Group

1919 – Josef Hoffmann registered a company in Munich.

1932 – Franz Hoffmann joined his father’s company. He shaped the company for more than 60 years.

1936 – The first catalogue revolutionised the industry.

1973 – The introduction of the GARANT brand turned Hoffmann, the reseller, also into a manufacturer.

1993 – Foundation of the Hoffmann Gruppe, which has been called the Hoffmann Group since 2003.

1995 – First steps over the border: Hoffmann went international.

2000 – Started its online business.

2009 – Opening of Europe´s and the industry´s largest and most efficient logistics centre.

2018 – Further expansion: construction started on the LogisticCity in Nuremberg.

2019 – Hoffmann is preparing for the next 100 years: with digital products and services.

 

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Smart Data In The Metalworking Industry

Smart Data in the Metalworking Industry

The metalworking industry is entering a new era where new forces created by the explosion of data, robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI), amongst others, are changing the dynamics for manufacturing companies. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

To be successful in this new environment, manufacturers should consider a paradigm shift, focusing on innovation, integration of new technologies, and collaboration with their partners—and even with the competition—to build new solutions and take their production to the next level.

And that’s where key transformative technologies such as big data, analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) come in. Industry 4.0—our nascent industrial generation—represents digitalisation across all operational processes. Industrial IoT (IIoT), in particular, describes an integrated system of systems where sensors and actuators provide specific data such as measurements, timing, and equipment status, all connected and visible throughout the enterprise.

In this scenario, we’ll see the convergence of operations technology (OT) in the factory floor with information technology (IT) in the enterprise, all working together towards a single purpose—a more-efficient, profitable and successful manufacturing operation. With IIoT, companies will be able to view real-time data on their manufacturing processes, and compare performance across their plants, or even shifts within their plants. They can also quickly scale their production up or down; manage their energy consumption; and even manage, troubleshoot and fix their processes and plants, even when they are located in different parts of the world.

Data is what’s powering this. Seamless exchange of data between automated machine processes, including manual assembly, and testing, to name a few, provides clear visibility of the operations of this ‘smart factory’.

According to Mariano Kimbara, senior industry analyst for the Industrial Group of Frost & Sullivan, data will be the new value-multiplier for the factory. “Factory owners will strive to network various aspects of a plant, such as tools, assets, material, people, process, and services, on one digital platform. The level of integration and collaboration will offer customers unprecedented information visibility and subsequently generate value from domains that were generative before,” he said.

Making Use Of Data

Data plays a key role in all of these. As metalworking equipment manufacturers produce more and more sophisticated machines, with multiple sensors providing all the necessary data to ensure the health and performance of the machine, measurement, tracking, monitoring, inspection data—users today, on a daily basis, are grappling with more data than they ever did a decade ago.

With Cisco forecasting more than 50 billion connected devices by 2020, it is expected that there will be a deluge of data coming from these connected systems of systems. Which means a mindset shift is required when it comes to deciding what to do and how to leverage these data to improve your manufacturing operations.

Having all these data from your more sophisticated machines and tooling equipment is good, but the challenge is finding that relevant data that will provide you an actionable intelligence that you can implement to improve your processes.

According to Thomas Jakob of Bosch Software Innovations, this begins with sourcing for data creatively. He said companies can impel a more comprehensive look at information sources by being specific about problems they want to solve or opportunities they want to exploit. This means identifying and connecting the most important data for use in analytics, followed by a clean-up operation to synchronise and merge overlapping data, and then working around the missing information, according to him.

Once the information is in your hands, there are many ways how this will help you in your road to smart manufacturing. First is through preventive and predictive maintenance. Majority of the metalworking machines are now equipped with sensors that collect many different types of data, such as operating time and the conditions of the components and parts. Having these data provides users the knowledge on whether a part is no longer functioning efficiently and therefore needs replacement. Or, if a certain job is more tedious than the previous one, the machine will have to be rested for a slightly longer period than that required of the previous job. These things will help keep your metalworking equipment running efficiently, smoothly, and prevent machine downtime.

According to Bob Gill, general manager for Southeast Asia at ARC Advisory, the proportion of machine tool time actually taken up by cutting metal is generally less than 40 percent and can even be as low as 25 percent. He said that it can be difficult to accurately pinpoint the causes of all that non-productive machining time because most machine shops are performing manual, post-production data collection. In a smart factory, where your machines are constantly releasing production data, you will be able to gain intelligence on the impact of machine stops and tool changes in production, and as such plan more effectively and efficiently to improve machine uptime and utilisation.

Another benefit that you can get out of your smart data is energy usage. Smart machines provide data on their energy usage. Based on this, you will have the information when to ramp up production based on energy demand. Moreover, machines could power down when not in use.

And last but not least, quality control and assurance. With smart data, manufacturers will know whether a particular machine is not performing properly by comparing information about its performance to previous jobs. Or in case there are particular products that are not according to specs, users will be able to trace back where the process ‘faltered’, which resulted to production mistakes.

Industry 4.0 is here—and manufacturing operations can significantly benefit from utilising IIoT, smart data, and analytics. Building the right kind of technologies and expertise to apply them is critical for everyone to be competitive in this new industrial landscape.

 

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MTA Vietnam 2019 Opens New Opportunities For Precision Engineering And Manufacturing Sector In The Industrial Revolution 4.0

MTA Vietnam 2019 Opens New Opportunities For Precision Engineering And Manufacturing Sector In The Industrial Revolution 4.0

Vietnam mechanical industry is predicted to be a potential sector to catch up with the sustainable development of worldwide industry in the fourth industrial revolution. Being along with this industry through years, MTA is supposed to be the Vietnam premier trade event for Precision Engineering, Machine tools and Metalworking. The exhibition is held on July 2nd – 5th, 2019 at Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center (SECC), promised to display a strong line-up of cutting-edge products together with different interesting additional activities.

Vietnam Mechanical Industry Are Gradually Affirming Its Position In Industrial Revolution 4.0

As Vietnam powers past the first half of 2019, its growth remains stable within the context of slowing global economic growth faced with increasing challenges, contentions and risks. At the end of 1Q19, Vietnam’s GDP growth reached a commendable 6.8 percent, with the industrial and construction sectors contribution at 8.6 percent – the highest rate amongst all key Vietnam industry sectors. The industrial sector looks set to lead GDP growth over the near term as Vietnam has maintained her appeal for foreign direct investment in the manufacturing and industrial sectors.

While the world is progressing to the fourth industrial revolution, manufacturing level of Vietnam industry is still at the first stages and limited by new technologies, information, skill and infrastructure. However, if the enterprises know how to take the advantages of opportunities and are facilitated to develop, Vietnam mechanical industry is predicted to be a potential sector to catch up with the sustainable development of worldwide industry in the fourth industrial revolution. Besides, mechanical enterprises should actively renovate their technologies and collaborate with different partners to maximise the efficiency in working. With strong supporting and beneficial policies from the government and associations, the new industrial era would be easier to reach.

MTA Vietnam 2019 – Catching Up With Worldwide Industrial Innovation

MTA Vietnam makes it return as 17th edition and has asserted its position for the last 16 years as the premier precision engineering, machine tools and metalworking exhibition in Vietnam which meets the innovative demands of global tendency. With exhibition area is expanded to Hall A3 and reaches 13,900sqm, the event will showcase a number of industrial products serve for precision engineering, machine tools and metalworking industry provided by different suppliers from around the world. This year’s event attracted more than 514 exhibitors from 22 nations and regions with popular labels such as: Amada, Beijing Jingdiao, Bystronic, Cybertech, Dine Vina, Hypertherm, Hwacheon, Jinan Bodor, Knuth, Mazak, Marposs, Mitsubishi, Muratec, Nikon, Shandong Leiming, Sandvik, Sodick, Renishaw, Takamaz, Trumpf, Van Su Loi, Viet Vu, VPIC Viet Phap, Yamada,… and many others.

MTA Vietnam 2019 honourably welcomes 14 international group pavilions from countries with strong technological development such as: United Kingdom, Taiwan (3), Germany (2), Korea (5), Japan, Singapore and Thailand. Taiwan group pavilion has the biggest exhibition area with over 60 exhibitors attend. Korea is the nation that attracted the most associations with five international group pavilions include more than 50 companies to come and promote their products. Besides, United Kingdom is a brand new international group pavilion which is established for the first time in Vietnam, with supporting from Engineering Industries Association (EIA).

A place to exchange knowledge about science and technology

Technical seminars and conferences are alongside activities which attracted a plenty of visitors at MTA Vietnam. With the topic entitled: “New trends of metal forming technology”, technical seminar is hosted by the organiser: Informa Markets Vietnam and prestigious speakers from top-rated businesses such as: Dr. Ngo Cong Truong, Founder and Professional Director, John&Partners JSC; Mr. Pham Duc Hiep, Sales Manager, Trumpf Vietnam Co., Ltd; Mr. Garry Chuang, Sales General Manager, Bystronic; Mr. Hoang Minh Dong, Manager, Amada Vietnam Co., Ltd and Mr. Naoya Ogawa, Area Manager of ASEAN and Oceania, Murata Machinery Ltd.

Multi Engineering Solution Laboratory – MES LAB has continually accompanied with the seminar series at MTA Vietnam and brings the topic titled: “PRODUCT DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT – PROCESS AND TECHNIQUES TO IMPLEMENT FOR R&D AND INNOVATION TEAM”, conducted by Dr. Tran Anh Tuan (CEO MES LAB) and MES LAB Team. The program is hoped to bring interesting sharings about product design & development process by new technology.

Experiencing our industry 4.0 introducing booth called: “We are Industry 4.0 ready!”

This booth is opened with the aim to introduce products reach industrial 4.0 standard from the exhibitors. With the criterion: “Nine pillars of Technological Advancement that forms the basis for Industry 4.0”: Big Data and Analytics, Autonomous Robots, Simulation, Horizontal and Vertical System Integration, The Industrial Internet of Things, Cybersecurity, The Cloud, Additive Manufacturing, Augmented Reality (Source: Boston Consulting Group 9/4/2015), the products which have one of above standards will be displayed at this special booth. Through short videos and introduction, this is supposed to be a chance for the exhibitors to approach visitors more effectively.

This special booth welcomes 22 popular brands such as: 3D Smart, Amada, Bejing Jingdiao, Cybertech, Kita Sensor, Mazak, Nam Sơn, Nikon, Siemens, Trumpf, Woosung, ZWSOFT,… and many others to attend and showcase their products.

Click here to see show photos taken by the APMEN Team.

 

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Increasing Automation, Connectivity And Energy Efficiency In Metal Cutting

Increasing Automation, Connectivity And Energy Efficiency In Metal Cutting

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Armin Stolzer, Owner & CEO of KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG regarding current trends in the metal cutting industry.

APMEN: What trends are shaping the metal cutting industry?

The current favourable situation in widespread parts of the global economy and in the metalworking sector is leading to many companies increasing their production output. However, for the most part, additional capacity is usually necessary to enable the larger number of orders to be processed on time. More and more users are therefore deciding to automate processes, including in the sawing and storage technology sector. This offers considerable potential and, at the same time, the necessary flexibility to be able to respond to changing requirements.

 

APMEN: How are you helping your customers keep up with these trends?

We help companies to achieve significant improvements in production efficiency while at the same time reducing their costs – two outcomes which in today’s economically challenging climate are in especially great demand. Our sawing machines and storage systems can be easily integrated into a digitalised and automated material flow. We also offer combined sawing and storage systems in which all the storage, handling, sawing, marking, palletising and bundling processes are performed fully automatically with the help of industrial robots – from putting the raw material into store through to the picking of the cut parts. With our customised complete systems, metal-processing companies can fully utilise the potential of their production and logistics facilities.

At the software level we also have innovative solutions that are perfectly adapted to industry needs, for example in the form of our well-designed machine control systems and KASTOlogic Warehouse Management System. With KASTOoptisaw, we have developed a cutting optimisation tool which considers various machine parameters as well as the workload. It generates one or more cutting plans that determine the best item sequences. This results in less waste and as few material movements as possible, saving users both time and money.

 

APMEN: What are the latest technology developments in KASTO’s metal cutting saws and storage systems?

Just recently, we have launched an innovative solution for maintaining our machines and systems remotely: KASTO VisualAssistance. By means of a tablet, smartphone or smart glasses, users can send live videos to KASTO’s service experts and receive visual assistance and information in real time in the event of a fault or maintenance work. Downtimes can be reduced to a minimum, which has a positive effect on the cost balance.

For our automatic bar stock and sheet metal storage systems, we have developed a concept in which excess kinetic energy can be converted into electric current, stored temporarily and then be used flexibly as required. Consumption of electric power can be reduced by as much as 40 percent compared to conventional drive systems and the connected load can even be cut by more than 50 percent. This reduces operating and investment costs and cuts CO2 emissions.

Also, we have comprehensively re-engineered our KASTOtec automatic bandsaws. In doing so, we have clearly focused on the optimum use of carbide metal saw blades. Further innovations relate to the saw feed, the main drive, and a system for automatically adjusting the feed speed. This all contributes to a further increase in sawing performance.

 

APMEN: What sets your solutions apart from competition in the region?

KASTO is the market leader for metal sawing machines, semi-automatic and fully automatic storage systems, as well as automated handling equipment for metal bar stock, sheet metals and parts cut to size. Our portfolio includes high-performance sawing machines that not only enable the user to achieve a supreme cutting quality but also the best cost per cut. Our products feature a high degree of automation and therefore offer the best prerequisites for the megatrends Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things. Besides, we are the only supplier of combined sawing and storage systems and have extensive software know-how. Customers therefore benefit from the full range of equipment for the provisioning, production and distribution of material from a single supplier.

Our products and solutions stand out due to their high level of innovation and ideally fit the requirements of our customers. Top-quality workmanship causes the saws and the storage systems to be particularly rugged and durable. Being a family-owned and -managed company, KASTO stands for quality “Made in Germany”. At the same time, we offer comprehensive and personal service, short response times and expert local advice to all our customers everywhere in the world. In 2015, we opened a subsidiary in Singapore to strengthen our position in the Southeast Asian Market.

 

APMEN: How do you see the metal cutting industry developing in the next year or two?

Connectivity and automation are increasing. 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. Other important trends include a greater emphasis on safety in materials handling and machine control, which is why we focus in particular on developing effective solutions.

Also, the question of energy efficiency is becoming ever more important. Ultimately, the increased levels of automation mean that users are also taking account of power consumption as a decisive cost factor. The demands placed on machines and systems are therefore not only growing in terms of flexibility, speed and precision, but also at the level of the savings they can bring. To meet these needs, KASTO’s portfolio includes efficient energy recovery and storage methods that allow users to reduce the electricity costs resulting from system operation and, at the same time, to improve the quality of the power supply.

 

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Adapting Cutting Tools To Changing Trends

Adapting Cutting Tools To Changing Trends

In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Jacob Harpaz, ISCAR CEO, IMC President and Chairman of the Board, discusses the current trends in the metalworking tool industry, and how the company is helping their customers address their manufacturing challenges.

Jacob Harpaz

APMEN: Could you provide us with an overview of the trends that are shaping the metalworking tool industry?

Jacob Harpaz: Developments such as electric vehicles and powertrains in large volumes, additive manufacturing and cyber connectivity will mean significant changes in the style of machining and the materials being used. Workpieces will be produced more commonly at near net shapes for final machining and finishing.

By 2030 there will be big changes in the automotive sector. The major OEMs are moving away from the internal combustion engine which will mean much less metal removal will be required. There will be wider use of composite materials and the introduction of 3D printing will also mean less metal removal. At ISCAR we are preparing for these changes. Cutting tools will have to adapt to remove less metal but at much faster speeds and feeds.

Industry 4.0’s impact will not just come through sophisticated new technology such as sensors, process monitoring and acquiring machining data, but in the integration of factories and the supply and distribution of consumables used in manufacturing and products leaving the factory.

APMEN: How has ISCAR kept up with these trends?

Harpaz: ISCAR’s motto of “Machining Intelligently” represents the ongoing process of developing new products for increased productivity.  Our aim is to provide our customers with the latest technology to bring down costs.  ISCAR’s strategic philosophy is ongoing R&D that drives our business growth. As soon as we introduce to the market our newest tooling families, another team from the R&D division focuses on designing tools that will compete with these latest tools

ISCAR recently launched its “LOGIQ” cutting tools campaign featuring highly advanced cutting tool solutions for productive, high quality and efficient manufacturing in all sectors.

APMEN: What are the top three challenges that your customers are facing?

Harpaz: First, machining logically and intelligently is closely connected to today’s smart factories and the current cyber age. The cyber revolution is here, and Asian shops should quickly embrace what Industry 4.0 really means. They need to move beyond seeing Industry 4.0 as just a slogan, and this will take open-mindedness.

Next, companies need to maximise efficiency to stay ahead. They should be developing methods to collect, analyse and leverage data and utilising appropriate tools to cut faster or reduce setup, as well as implementing inventory systems that reinforce the aim of 24/7 machining. ISCAR’s “LOGIQ” product range helps to realise these goals.

Third, the ISO 13999 standard affects CAM procedures on production floors all over the world. Producing metal parts productively and profitably requires many technological changes to ensure that the process is followed correctly. To address this challenge, customers need online data such as the information that appears in ISCAR’s electronic catalog, which features assembly options.

APMEN: How are you helping them address these challenges?

Harpaz: ISCAR embraces a business culture that nurtures, strengthens and maintains strong ties with our customers. We aim to improve profitability and productivity for large and small manufacturers alike, facing every challenge as an opportunity to expand our range of solutions through focused R&D, production excellence, and close cooperation with customers to ensure the right product for their needs.

ISCAR introduced a milling tool assemblies option in E-CAT, its comprehensive electronic catalog. This new option represents a highly valuable instrument for the preliminary process in selecting tools at the design and planning stages of machining. Cutting tool data can be gathered accurately and used to create twin representations of the tools. Creating a digital twin representation of a tool assembly based on ISO 13399 facilitates the accurate communication of tool information between software systems. The assemblies are accessible in both 2D and 3D files, and the files can be downloaded directly from E-CAT on the ISCAR website.

Integrating this new function into the user’s CAM software can prevent errors on the shop floor during machining, while the ability to plan multiple tool assemblies saves time and costs in the planning process.

While we always provide the latest technology to machine the part, the productivity advantage of this technology only matters if you have the tool at the right place at the right time.

APMEN: How do you position ISCAR in the metalworking tools market in Asia?

Harpaz: The Asian market is important and presents its own challenges and opportunities; ISCAR welcomes every challenge as an opportunity for continued research and development of effective cutting solutions that match market developments and requirements.

Our commitment to combining innovation with reliability and cost consciousness, together with our wide market knowledge and penetration and a uniquely strong – and global – corporate culture, enables us to stay at the forefront of the industry and to provide our Asian customers with optimal, cost-effective solutions to their needs.

 

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Embedded Motion Control

Embedded Motion Control

Embedded motion control is a major emerging trend that’s being driven by the interconnectedness of many different systems, such as new edge device applications in the Internet of Things and the industrial IoT, as well as other trends such as increasing integration and miniaturisation of systems, and the spread of mobile/wearable consumer electronics – and artificial intelligence. Article by Trinamic.

Several different trends, both application related and user (engineering) related, are working together to spur the increase in embedded motion control. Even before the recent emergence of IoT and IIoT edge devices, many of these trends were already occurring.

Simultaneous increasing miniaturisation/integration and automation: One of the most important trends, and one that influences so many others, is the increasing miniaturisation and integration of systems, components, and assemblies, at the same time they are also being automated. This is also true in new miniature motor types with very small form-factors. Demand for stepper motors overall continues to rise, due in part to a rise in demand for miniature motors, according to a report by P&M Market Research reports. Although industrial machinery has been the largest market segment for stepper motors, said this report, their rising use in medical equipment, desktop manufacturing, or home automation will drive market growth by 2023.

Other applications being enabled by this trend include 3D printing, and IoT-connected devices for consumers. This latter group includes connected home devices such as window shades, blinds, and cameras for smart home systems; environmental controls such as connected thermostats; appliances; robots; drones; automotive; and consumer devices that require stepper motors. For wearables, some examples are small portable insulin pumps containing small stepper motors, which also need a wired or wireless interface and are battery driven, and virtual reality goggles.

Fostered By Industrial IoT

Growing interconnectedness fostered by the IIoT: Networks are growing. Bandwidth is growing. The amount of information exchanged over all networks, including over the Internet, is growing. Global semiconductor and technology companies are placing their highest focus on solutions for networking, for data centres, and high-bandwidth communication technologies – in global telecommunication and media, in industrial control applications, as well as in automotive and home networks.

To keep pace with this development requires more intelligent systems, including motion control and drive solutions at the network edge with standardised APIs and standard interfaces so these systems can understand and communicate with each other.

AI: Artificial intelligence is a trend on the algorithm side, in software and dedicated hardware, and it is a radical change. AI allows for intelligent and autonomous machines, it allows for systems that make decisions based on their available “information” without human control, it allows for learning/adaptive machines, and it allows for interactive machines. Because of AI, new application areas are emerging which will become commodities in a few years, such as advanced robotics in factories and in medical applications, the transportation & delivery industry, or toys. Nevertheless, to actually interact with the real, physical world – transforming digital information into physical motion and vice versa – AI-based systems require smart actuators. Such smart actuators are examples of embedded motion control systems.

Embedded motion control not only means using an embedded system for motion control tasks or implementing the motor and motion control functions in highly integrated microchips. Embedded motion control means more than just motor control. It means the whole motion control system in miniature.

Examples Of Embedded Motion Control

The design of motion control is no longer difficult or complicated: instead, it has become a set of mainstream functions, or building blocks, which can help designers reduce their development overhead. We can now embed functions and sub-blocks physically (motor, sensors, housing, physical interface) and logically (algorithms, communication stacks, dedicated hardware accelerators), combined according to an engineer’s specific application needs.

Examples of increasing integration and miniaturization can be found in Trinamic’s smart stepper controller + driver IC family, such as the TMC5130 / TMC5160 integrated motor driver and motion controller IC. The TMC5072 can even drive two motors directly out of the IC. The TMC8670 dedicated EtherCAT motion controller IC is an example of the highest levels of integration. It’s an SoC with a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and a real MCU inside, and includes EtherCAT real-time bus interfaces, protocol stacks, plus servo motor control in a single device.

If you think about all of these trends like AI, IoT, and IIoT, it becomes clear that they are typically located more on the processing and communication side. Nevertheless, many systems need a bridge to the real world. When people think about the IoT, they think sensors and data (the cloud). However, it’s the actuators that give meaning to the IoT and make life comfortable by enabling the physical cloud, which consists of all the physical devices connected to the Internet. Embedded motion control is this bridge that connects the digital to the physical.

 

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Use Of Technical Assistance Systems To Boost Efficiency & Cut Costs

Use of Technical Assistance Systems to Boost Efficiency & Cut Costs

For most people, Industry 4.0 mainly refers to the Internet of Things (IoT) — the fact that every piece of equipment is interconnected, and how they have the ability to ‘talk’ to each other. True as that may be, the other principles that characterise Industry 4.0 are just as definitive. Article by Jutta Mayer, Product Marketing Manager (3D Manufacturing), FARO Technologies.

The connectivity enables information transparency, which allows the collection and sharing of vast amounts of data. Industry 4.0 is also characterized by decentralised decisions, where cyber-physical systems act as autonomous agents within its dedicated scope, performing tasks without the need for human intervention. And where humans are still required, Industry 4.0 has shifted their role — from operator of machines to problem-solver — through the use of technical assistance systems.

What Constitutes Technical Assistance?

Designed to aid operators in their role as decision-makers, assistance systems typically offer either physical support on dangerous, strenuous tasks, or they provide crucial information to enable better decision-making.

Examples of physical support systems include collaborative robots that take on the heavy-lifting parts of a task; exoskeletons to eliminate fatigue and injury; and headsets that optimise order-picking routes to save time and cost. On the other hand, informational support systems include wearables that alert operators to machine faults; tablets or glasses that offer step-by-step guidance on installation or assembly processes; and carriers that provide instructions on assembly, and transport the tools and components required.

In the context of the manufacturing environment today, both types of technical assistance systems play a vital role in alleviating production challenges. While Industry 4.0 may seem like a daunting endeavour to undertake, exploring and implementing technical assistance systems is one relatively uncomplicated way for companies to enter these unchartered territories, and to leverage technology benefits.

Streamlining Tool & Fixture Building Processes

One such instance of technical assistance is in virtual inspection, in particular for tool and fixture building. Often, in early phases of prototyping, companies would be developing tools, fixtures, or assemblies — where not all components of the whole are in place just yet. However, quality inspection early on in the process is necessary, in order to ensure that everything eventually fits in its allocated position. Otherwise, any changes that may be required in later stages can incur additional costs and cause delay with prototypes and pilot lots, likely pushing back production timelines for final inspection, approvals, and series production.

To circumvent that challenge, manufacturers can employ augmented reality software to conduct virtual inspections using CAD data. Advances in mixed reality technology have made it possible for an assembly, a tool, or part to be virtually examined in detail, even with an incomplete set-up. Missing elements — such as the prototype a tool will be used for — can be represented by a virtual instance based on its CAD data. Through an overlay, the virtual object can be inserted into the software to see how it fits with the existing elements.

This way, any difference between the actual and the intended, targeted setup can be identified, documented, and fixed early on. The information gathered by the system can also be documented and shared with team members and stakeholders located anywhere in the world, which enables better collaboration.

Manufacturers who choose to rely on such technical assistance systems stand to gain time- and cost-savings, as any problems with quality can be identified and fixed early on in the process, even before first prototypes arrive for a physical ‘real world’ testing. By eliminating transfers to-and-fro, companies can ensure a quick transition from the first prototype phase to pilot lots, and series production.

Simplifying Templating & Positioning Tasks

Another scenario where manufacturers can easily introduce technical assistance to embark on their Industry 4.0 journey is in welding assembly and verification. Most basic welding jobs will see technicians rely on blueprints, tools, and tape measures to join and build the parts. While these traditional methods have worked well in the past, companies have also lived with the high levels of error and its associated costs — owing to rework, scrap, and lost time.

Originally used in the aerospace and defence industries, laser projection has since been made available to automotive, heavy equipment, and machine shops. The system utilises 3D CAD data to generate a series of specific points and create a projection outline on a surface. Using advanced optics, galvanometers, and high-precision mirrors, the laser beam “draws” images onto a surface (which need not be flat) and the high-speed motion of the laser beam creates what appears to be a continuous line to the human eye.

Using 3D laser projection or 3D laser imaging systems, manufacturers can achieve significant improvements in efficiency and accuracy, while eliminating physical templates all at once. Instead of blueprints, operators can simply follow a sequential guide through the welding process. Such systems provide clear instructions to users each step of the way, and are capable of indicating where to place each component and feature — down to the detail of each weld bead or hole. This eliminates the risk of less experienced employees welding onto incorrect positions, allowing manufacturers to ensure alignment accuracy every single time.

A virtual templating solution removes the need for physical templates, and also the time and expense associated with the usage — including design, build, maintenance, and storage. In addition, an advanced 3D laser imaging system enables in-process verification (IPV) to be performed after any step of the welding and assembly sequence. This means that manufacturers can evaluate placement and adjust alignment as the project progresses, not just afterwards when the welding has already been completed. For technicians, the ability to assess their work and take appropriate corrective action before investing further effort is invaluable, as it prevents a situation where the end result becomes a flawed assembly.

As Industry 4.0 continues to unfold in the years ahead, most businesses will recognise the need to roll with the punches and not be left behind. Technical assistance systems offer manufacturers tangible benefits of better quality, improved efficiency, and cost-savings, and those that choose to adopt suitable solutions will stand to gain an edge over their competitors in this new era.

 

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GENiE Smart Factory Solution Boosts Smart Manufacturing In Malaysia

GENiE Smart Factory Solution Boosts Smart Manufacturing In Malaysia

Galactic Advanced Engineering (M) Sdn Bhd has launched its cloud-based process intelligent solution—GENiE Smart Factory Solution, which aims to increase adoption of smart manufacturing practices in Malaysia and the region.

“Malaysian manufacturers need to embrace technology and be competitive worldwide. We can no longer be dependent on labour intensive manufacturing practices. It is essential for manufacturers especially SMEs to leverage on cyber-physical systems and cloud-based data to make informed business decision in order to increase productivity,” said Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Deputy Minister of Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), during the launch. He hopes to work with the company to support Malaysia manufacturers in taking steps towards Industry 4.0.

GENiE Smart Factory Solution enables better decision making on the production floor through data analytics, by obtaining real process values and parameters of production operations. The solution address common problems encountered by manufacturers such as under-utilisation of machinery, production wastage, unpredicted down time risks and high usage of energy.

“It is a scalable investment to improve operations and more importantly to reduce downtime and financial losses from production interruptions. The savings from energy utilisation, reduction of wastage and better yield from the machines can be seen within months,” said Sakhtivel Narayanasamy, CEO of Galactic Advanced Engineering.

He is optimistic about the government’s commitment and efforts in driving adoption of Industry 4.0: “There has been much concept talk about Industry 4.0 and its power to revolutionise but we believe these concepts can be converted into applicable solutions like the GENiE Smart Factory that enables an innovative shift in manufacturing operations for the next three years.”

 

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Artificial Intelligence Software Market To Reach US$118.6 Billion By 2025

Artificial Intelligence Software Market To Reach US$118.6 Billion By 2025

According to a report by Tractica, titled “Artificial Intelligence Market Forecast”, the global artificial intelligence (AI) software market revenue is expected to increase from US$9.5 billion in 2018 to US$118.6 billion by 2025. The study includes market sizing, segmentation, and forecasts for 315 AI use cases distributed across 30 industries. The steady growth of the AI market in the consumer, enterprise, government and defence sectors can be observed as applications of AI technologies and solutions are becoming a reality.

“While the market is still a few years away from an inflection point for real growth, it is critical for both end users and solutions providers to identify the technologies and use cases where they want to invest in AI,” commented Aditya Kaul, research director at Tractica.

AI use cases covered by this report includes three main categories: vision, language and analytics. Vision and language represent the perceptive brain which aims to enhance speech and sight capabilities. While analytics represent the analytical brain which deals with extracting and processing raw data, using traditional machine learning techniques for example. Although analytics and big data are huge drivers of the AI market, pure analytics only represent 35 percent of revenue from AI use cases. In fact, the main driver of the market is actually language and vision use cases in combination with analytics, representing 65 percent of the revenue. New AI use cases in the manufacturing sector includes supply chain optimisation, human-robot collaboration, digital twins and robotic and machine vision enhancements.

 

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Open Manufacturing Platform Accelerates IIoT Developments

Open Manufacturing Platform Accelerates IIoT Developments

Microsoft Corporation and the BMW Group has announced a new community initiative to enable faster, more cost-effective innovation in the manufacturing sector. In manufacturing today, production and profitability can be hindered by complex, proprietary systems that create data silos and slow productivity. The Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP) is designed to break down these barriers through the creation of an open technology framework and cross-industry community. The initiative is expected to support the development of smart factory solutions that will be shared by OMP participants across the automotive and broader manufacturing sectors. The goal is to significantly accelerate future industrial IoT developments, shorten time to value and drive production efficiencies while addressing common industrial challenges.

Built on the Microsoft Azure industrial IoT cloud platform, the OMP is intended to provide community members with a reference architecture with open source components based on open industrial standards and an open data model. In addition to facilitating collaboration, this platform approach is designed to unlock and standardise data models that enable analytics and machine learning scenarios — data that has traditionally been managed in proprietary systems. Utilising industrial use cases and sample code, community members and other partners will have the capability to develop their own services and solutions while maintaining control over their data.

“Microsoft is joining forces with the BMW Group to transform digital production efficiency across the industry,” said Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Cloud + AI Group. “Our commitment to building an open community will create new opportunities for collaboration across the entire manufacturing value chain.”

With currently over 3,000 machines, robots and autonomous transport systems connected with the BMW Group IoT platform, which is built on Microsoft Azure’s cloud, IoT and AI capabilities, the BMW Group plans to contribute relevant initial use cases to the OMP community. In the future, use cases—such as digital feedback loops, digital supply chain management and predictive maintenance—will be made available and, in fact, developed further within the OMP community.

“Mastering the complex task of producing individualised premium products requires innovative IT and software solutions,” said Oliver Zipse, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Production. “The interconnection of production sites and systems as well as the secure integration of partners and suppliers are particularly important. We have been relying on the cloud since 2016 and are consistently developing new approaches. With the Open Manufacturing Platform as the next step, we want to make our solutions available to other companies and jointly leverage potential in order to secure our strong position in the market in the long term.”

Graphic showing various components involved with the Open Manufacturing Platform The OMP is the next evolution in the BMW Group’s and Microsoft’s long-standing technology partnership and mutual commitment to innovation and creating industry-wide opportunities for collective success. Through the OMP, community members will have greater opportunities to unlock the potential of their data, allowing them to build and integrate industrial solutions more quickly and securely and, in turn, benefit from contributing to and learning from other organisations.

The OMP will be designed to address common industrial challenges such as machine connectivity and on-premises systems integration. This will facilitate the reuse of software solutions among OEMs, suppliers and other partners, significantly reducing implementation costs. For example, an ROS-based robotics standard for autonomous transport systems for production and logistics will be contributed to the OMP for everyone to use. The OMP will be compatible with the existing Industry 4.0 reference architecture, leveraging the industrial interoperability standard OPC UA.

“This is very good news for the manufacturing industry,” said Stefan Hoppe, president and CEO of the OPC Foundation. “The use of open international industry standards such as OPC UA in the OMP community enables manufacturers, machine builders and suppliers to integrate their existing equipment and systems efficiently and securely. For a long time, companies have promoted proprietary, closed ecosystems — the OMP commitment to open development will shape tomorrow’s manufacturing.”

The underlying platform will continue to evolve over time, along with manufacturing requirements, to incorporate new innovations including areas of analytics, artificial intelligence and digital feedback loops.

 

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