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Bending In The Smartphone Era

Bending in the Smartphone Era

How exactly do newer CNC press brakes create more parts than older mechanical or hydraulic press brakes? Find out in this article by Marcel Fiedler of Bystronic Inc.

Older controls required manual numerical programming.

Do you remember getting your first cellphone? What was the first thing you took out of the box and spent time with? It was probably the user manual. The cellphone was a new technology, and you needed time to understand and learn to use it. It wasn’t intuitive, and you absolutely needed that manual.

What happens when you get a new smartphone today? You unwrap the well-designed package, admire your shiny new device, turn it on, and get started. It’s probably already charged and just waiting for you to use it. That’s it. It doesn’t have any buttons or dials; the entire surface is a human-machine interface, or HMI. And it probably doesn’t have a manual. A pop-up notification shows you received a new message, and you just tap to see what it is. It’s intuitive.

Press brakes last much longer than cellphones, of course. That’s why in many job shops today you might find both mechanical and hydraulic press brakes with old controls. They can last 30 years or longer and still bend parts. Of course, just because a machine turns on does not mean it can produce parts efficiently. If you see less seasoned operators attempt to run the shop’s oldest brake, you’ll probably hear them say, “Does anybody know how to operate this machine?”

Learning and understanding bending theory is probably as challenging as learning to be a good welder. It takes time and patience to learn the differences between every machine. Those differences can be significant, especially in a bending department with both old and new equipment. They require different training strategies, all driven by technology that has literally changed how operators learn about sheet metal bending: the software and machine control.

The Pre-Smartphone Era

Imagine starting a new job as a press brake operator around the same time that you received your first cellphone, before the smartphone era. You spend most of the time going through the manual, guided by a veteran who knows the machine inside and out. You read the blueprint and adjust the machine settings as necessary. You learn how to adjust the position of each axis, determine where the backgauge needs to be, dial in the part, make other adjustments by typing nominal values into the controller, then run production until you need to switch over to the next part. Once you understand the basic concept of one machine, you walk to the next press brake and learn this process from the beginning again, with your experienced tutor and the manual right next to you.

You receive a printed blueprint, and you write the program at the machine control. You determine the material type and thickness, define your bend angle, then position your backgauges manually for each bend. If not provided on the print, backgauge positions are defined as an actual absolute value that needs to be calculated manually


Overall you spend 10 minutes (or longer) getting the press brake ready to make the first bend—and that old machine control gives you no indication of how to do this. By looking at the control alone, you don’t know which tools to pick or how to set them up. That’s why you need an experienced operator by your side. He knows the setups and best ways of doing it by memory. Still, even with all his knowledge and experience, he pays very close attention to his choices so he doesn’t make any mistakes. Setup is time-consuming, and the old machine control doesn’t give much if any assistance.

At some point, you’re on your own. You position the peripherals of the machine first so you know where to place the tools. What tools do you select for this job? You’d better have a quick guide or “little black book” close to the press brake to know which tools to pick.

The Smartphone Era

The control shows other relevant information, including raw material location, customer information, and due date.

Fast-forward to today. Imagine you just graduated from school and you’re now looking for your first real job in the sheet metal industry. Thing is, you aren’t on the shop floor with an experienced employee who has operated just one machine his entire career.

Instead, you’re in a classroom environment. You sit by a desktop PC with the press brake operating software installed. You don’t have a printed machine manual, and on some days you might not work with someone with decades of press brake experience, especially if they’re needed on the floor. But that’s not a problem—and here’s why.

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Gartner Forecasts Seven Future Digital Disruptions

Gartner Forecasts Seven Future Digital Disruptions

Gartner, Inc. has revealed seven digital disruptions that organisations may not be prepared for and which CIOs may not foresee coming. These include several categories of disruption, each of which represents a significant potential for new disruptive companies and business models to emerge.

“The single largest challenge facing enterprises and technology providers today is digital disruption,” said Daryl Plummer, Vice President and Gartner Fellow. “The virtual nature of digital disruptions makes them much more difficult to deal with than past technology-triggered disruptions. CIOs must work with their business peers to pre-empt digital disruption by becoming experts at recognising, prioritising and responding to early indicators.”

Quantum Computing

Quantum computing (QC) is a type of nonclassical computing that is based on the quantum state of subatomic particles. Classic computers operate using binary bits where the bit is either 0 or 1, true or false, positive or negative. However, in QC, the bit is referred to as a quantum bit or qubit. Unlike the strictly binary bits of classic computing, qubits can represent 1 or 0 or a superposition of both partly 0 and partly 1 at the same time.

Superposition is what gives quantum computers speed and parallelism, meaning that these computers could theoretically work on millions of computations at once. Further, qubits can be linked with other qubits in a process called entanglement. When combined with superposition, quantum computers could process a massive number of possible outcomes at the same time.

“Today’s data scientists, focused on machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and data and analytics, simply cannot address some difficult and complex problems because of the compute limitations of classic computer architectures. Some of these problems could take today’s fastest supercomputers months or even years to run through a series of permutations, making it impractical to attempt,” said Mr. Plummer. “Quantum computers have the potential to run massive amounts of calculations in parallel in seconds. This potential for compute acceleration, as well as the ability to address difficult and complex problems, is what is driving so much interest from CEOs and CIOs in a variety of industries. But we must always be conscious of the hype surrounding the quantum computing model. QC is good for a specific set of problem solutions, not all general-purpose computing.”

Real-Time Language Translation

Real-time language translation could, in effect, fundamentally change communication across the globe. Devices such as translation earbuds and voice and text translation services can perform translation in real-time, breaking down language barriers with friends, family, clients and colleagues. This technology could not only disrupt intercultural language barriers, but also language translators as this role may no longer be needed.

“To prepare for this disruption, CIOs should equip employees in international jobs with experimental real-time translators to pilot streamlined communication,” said Mr. Plummer. “This will help establish multilingual disciplines to help employees work more effectively across languages.”


Nanotechnology is science, engineering and technology conducted at the nanoscale — 1 to 100 nanometers. The implications of this technology is that the creation of solutions involve individual atoms and molecules. Nanotech is used to create new effects in materials science, such as self-healing materials. Applications in medicine, electronics, security and manufacturing herald a world of small solutions that fill in the gaps in the macroverse in which we live.

“Nanotechnology is rapidly becoming as common a concept as many others, and yet still remains sparsely understood in its impact to the world at large,” said Mr. Plummer. “When we consider applications that begin to allow things like 3D printing at nanoscale, then it becomes possible to advance the cause of printed organic materials and even human tissue that is generated from individual stem cells. 3D bioprinting has shown promise and nanotech is helping deliver on it.”

Swarm Intelligence

Digital business will stretch conventional management methods past the breaking point. The enterprise will need to make decisions in real time about unpredictable events, based on information from many different sources (such as Internet of Things [IoT] devices) beyond the organization’s control. Humans move too slowly, stand-alone smart machines cost too much, and hyperscale architectures cannot deal with the variability. Swarm intelligence could tackle the mission at a low cost.

Swarm intelligence is the collective behavior of decentralised, self-organised systems, natural or artificial. A swarm consists of small computing elements (either physical entities or software agents) that follow simple rules for coordinating their activities. Such elements can be replicated quickly and inexpensively. Thus, a swarm can be scaled up and down easily as needs change. CIOs should start exploring the concept to scale management, especially in digital business scenarios.

Human-Machine Interfaces

Human-machine interface (HMI) offers solutions providers the opportunity to differentiate with innovative, multimodal experiences. In addition, people living with disabilities benefit from HMIs that are being adapted to their needs, including some already in use within organizations of all types. Technology will give some of these people “superabilities,” spurring people without disabilities to also employ the technology to keep up.

For example, electromyography (EMG) wearables allow current users who would be unable to do so otherwise to use smartphones and computers through the use of sensors that measure muscle activity. Muscular contraction generates electrical signals that can be measured from the skin surface. Sensors may be placed on a single part or multiple parts of the body, as appropriate to the individual. The gestures are in turn interpreted by a HMI linked to another device, such as a PC or smartphone. Wearable devices using myoelectric signals have already hit the consumer market and will continue migrating to devices intended for people with disabilities.

Software Distribution Revolution

Software procurement and acquisition is undergoing a fundamental shift. The way in which software is located, bought and updated is now in the province of the software distribution marketplace. With the continued growth of cloud platforms from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google, IBM and others, as well as the ever-increasing introduction of cloud-oriented products and services, the role of marketplaces for selling and buying is gathering steam. The cloud platform providers realise (to varying degrees) that they must remove as much friction as possible in the buying and owning processes for both their own offerings and the offerings of their independent software vendors (ISVs) (i.e., partners). ISVs or cloud technology service providers (TSPs) recognise the need to reach large and increasingly diverse buying audiences.

“Establishing one’s own marketplace or participating as a provider in a third-party marketplace is a route to market that is becoming increasingly popular. Distributors and other third parties also see the opportunity to create strong ecosystems (and customer bases) while driving efficiencies for partners and technology service providers,” said Mr. Plummer.

Smartphone Disintermediation

The use of other devices, such as virtual personal assistants (VPAs), smartwatches and other wearables, may mean a shift in how people continue to use the smartphone.

“Smartphones are, today, critical for connections and media consumption. However, over time they will become less visible as they stay in pockets and backpacks. Instead, consumers will use a combination of voice-input and VPA technologies and other wearable devices to navigate a store or public space such as an airport or stadium without walking down the street with their eyes glued to a smartphone screen,” said Mr. Plummer.

CIOs and IT leaders should use wearability of a technology as a guiding principle and investigate and pilot wearable solutions to improve worker effectiveness, increase safety, enhance customer experiences and improve employee satisfaction.


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Manufacturing And Processing To Be Driving Force For Vietnam’s 2018 Trade Surplus

Manufacturing And Processing To Be Driving Force For Vietnam’s 2018 Trade Surplus

In accordance to Vietnam’s Cong Thuong newspaper, the country’s export revenues in 2018 is projected to reach a value of US$237 – 239 billion with an expected 10 – 12 percent year on year increment, while FDI investments reached US$127.84 billion, increasing by 14.6 percent. This is mainly attributed to the growth in the manufacturing and processing industry which constitutes a majority of the country’s exports, with smartphones comprising the largest export pool.

In March, Vietnam’s export turnover reached a high of over US$21 billion while in August, export turnover peaked at US$23.48 billion. Of which, US$5 billion were from smart phone exports over those two months.

The local government is also looking to reduce import tariffs to 0 percent due to free trade agreement commitments and this has increased the competitiveness of Vietnamese products, especially when coupled with the improvements in the local business environment. Also, while the US-China trade war has yet to be resolved, the Ministry of Industry And Trade will be monitoring it to reduce its impacts on Vietnam’s trade activities.

On the whole, Vietnam witnessed a trade surplus of US$5.39 billion in the January – September period, of which the FDI sector contributed for a trade surplus of US$23.65 billion, and domestic enterprises constituted a trade deficit of US$18.26 billion.


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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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