Current discussions about 5-axis machining centres are ongoing. Whilst some sceptics claim that more challenging programming or higher demands on the machine and the control speak against the technology, insiders emphasise the benefits of faster machining resulting in savings potentials plus higher precision and reduced tool wear due to shorter milling paths. That is also why HELLER placed the focus on this particular technology during WerkTage 2014, being already the 7th edition of this event. With seven machining centres live in action, guided plant tours and moderated panel discussions, the event was again fully geared towards the tasks of the users.
Already ahead of the event, organisers were aware of the expected number of visitors and an international response to WerkTage 2014. However, none of them had anticipated that they would be welcoming more than 800 guests from 20 different countries. With a share of more than 60%, the majority of visitors still came from Germany, followed by guests from Switzerland, Portugal, Spain and the US. Just as diverse as the nationalities of visitors to Nürtingen were the branches of industries interested in economically viable manufacturing solutions, including representatives from the automotive industry and its suppliers, machine builders, mould and die manufactures through to aerospace companies.
The 7th edition of HELLER WerkTage provided visitors with an opportunity to gain an understanding of tomorrow’s trends. Aspects presented included solutions offering precision and 5-axis competence and a comprehensive approach to the process chain. HELLER demonstrated its full spectrum of productivity with seven machining centres on display, machining a diverse range of components and meeting a wide variety of requirements. An out-facing head solution and trochoidal milling, universal application using oversized tools and boring in all its facets were presented on three 4-axis machining centres from the H series. Three 5-axis machining centres from the F series were the focal points in terms of 5-axis machining. Model FP 4000 demonstrated high precision with in-process gauging and 5-axis machining from 6 sides, whilst model FT 4000 showcased strategic 5-axis simultaneous machining. Additionally, HELLER cycles and combined mill/turning operations were demonstrated on 5-axis machining centre model CP 8000. Live machining demonstrations were complemented by a total of three new developments and numerous product enhancements, including the expansion of the process chain in crankcase manufacturing with HELLER CBC (CylinderBoreCoating).
This year for the first time, practical machine demonstrations were accompanied by moderated panel discussions. They also provided an opportunity to focus on a number of decisive questions: implementation in practical application or the questions of why, when or which solutions are chosen and how these strategies are transferable to other fields. Volker Schmitt, Head of Industrial Engineering Manufacturing at Linde Hydraulics GmbH in Aschaffenburg, for instance, illustrated cost-effective manufacturing of special cylinder blocks for axial piston pumps through use of a 5-axis machining centre. Up to now, these components have been manufactured using 4-axis machines with an additional attachment axis on the pallet. One specific type of cylinder block required machining in two setups, resulting in a very laborious process accompanied by a loss in quality and repeatability. To enable machining of the inclined bores in a single setup, a 5-axis solution was needed. For Linde Hydraulics, the decisive advantage was that the FP series of machines and the fork-head unit allowed machining at negative angles below the centre axis. The Aschaffenburg-based company required machining at a negative angle of 21°.
Formula for success for reliable operation
For Walter Kreidler, Managing Director of Kreidler GmbH & Co. KG in Horb, chip removal rate, dynamics, precision and reliability of the HELLER machines are the measure of all things. The requirements in terms of precision and availability in the machining of its workpiece spectrum, including parts for leading German transmission manufacturers, are usually extremely high and complex. Walter Kreidler comments: “Being confronted with challenging operations almost every day, these requirements are nothing new to us. Although the term ‘challenging’ is relative. It depends on what you are referring to. The die casting industry is subject to high standards and demands. Knowing this, you adapt to these requirements and adopt a conscientious approach. Walter Kreidler has his own recipe for achieving “precision and reliability for safe production processes” which has proven successful over many years: “I have known the machines supplied by HELLER from the very first day and we know what we are doing with them. HELLER may come at a higher price tag than other manufacturers, however, the longevity of the machines compensates for that. For reliable operation the machines simply have to keep running – around the clock. In my opinion, switching the machines on and off, powering them up and down, resulting in temperature fluctuations that have a negative effect on the lifetime of a machine. When operating the machines at constant temperatures, there are virtually no problems at all.” The company based in Horb achieves the required precision with complete machining in a single setup, without making a difference between roughing and finishing operations. According to Walter Kreidler this has no negative effects on the machines whatsoever: “We have been operating machines for 15 years still using the same guideways. We even purchased an 11-year-old machine model MC 16 from HELLER. Right from its installation the machine has been providing the same high precision as a new one. We never had to replace a spindle or guide rails. Workpieces are machined at high precision. We are using the machine for machining of current crankcase types.”
Availability at 95 percent even without automation
The above approach may sound a little strange to Karl Semmelmann, Head of Engineering and Development at MDS Abele GmbH & Co. KG. The company based in Mühlacker is required to achieve a process capability of Cm/Cmk 1.67. As a whole, the component in question required extremely high manufacturing precision in alternate machining. Due to the required Cm/Cmk 1.67 capability, tolerances were reduced from 0.05mm to 0.035mm. With daily batch sizes of 50, 220 and 500 pieces, precision and process capability have to be provided over a long period at high process dependability. That is why the company from Mühlacker opted for two 4-axis machining centres model H 4000 from HELLER. The machines commissionined in 2013 were immediately used for production. Although the company had expected them to require a certain start-up phase, they already reached 95 to 96 percent availability without the use of automation.
According to Karl Semmelmann, the stability of the machines contributes significantly to the high availability by safeguarding a high level of repeatability, whilst eliminating fluctuations in terms of stiffness and thermal growth. Following a short warm-up phase the machines are ready for machining from the thermal and mechanical point of view. The focus at MDS Abele is not on chip removal rate but on high speeds, high feed rates and precision. These attributes are not necessarily associated with horizontal machining centres. For Karl Semmelmann these things are relative: “In case of manufacturers providing other concepts the question is whether rapid traverse rates can be achieved across the overall traverse path at all. Model H 4000 has a traverse path of 800mm. However, if you accelerate across this distance, you also need to be able to decelerate. Operating costs are an important factor to be considered in this context. Today’s power consumption of linear drives almost requires a separate power generator for every machine.”
That exactly was the decisive factor for the company from Mühlacker. According to its calculations, the cost of power has increased by 60 percent in the last 5 years. Independent of political decisions, the company assumes that the increase is likely to continue in the coming years.
Insights, transparency, perspectives
This year, HELLER also welcomed renowned process chain suppliers to the event. In particular automation manufacturers KUKA, SCHULER, GÜDEL, LIEBHERR, RILE and FASTEMS provided information about solutions for stand-alone machines and linked machining centres. Additionally, the perfect symbiosis of a virtual and transparent machine provided in-depth insights. HELLER showcased a transparent machine model FP 4000, illustrating the quality of the machine structure, whilst virtual machining revealed the possibilities for optimising the process chain from the idea to the finished part. The programme was rounded off with a presentation of the complete portfolio of HELLER Services and our partner WENZLER, attractive financing solutions and a comprehensive exhibition of workpieces and finished products of numerous HELLER customers.
As during previous editions, HELLER WerkTage 2014 also provided an opportunity to visit Plants 1 and 2. In addition to insights into manufacturing, sub-assembly installation, final assembly and vocational training, visitors had a chance to learn more about the assembly of crankshaft machines, large-part manufacturing and retrofitting “Made by HELLER”.
Already in 2013, organisers at HELLER were confident that the 2014 event would again be a meeting place for experts in step with actual practice. The exchange of experiences and the technologies in focus contributed to fulfilling these expectations. Another important factor in the event’s success was the participation of partner companies and market leaders from the automation industry, suppliers of measurement and inspection equipment and clamping fixture providers, providing the relevant technology competence. They were able to present a wide range of possibilities for realising manufacturing solutions for a broad spectrum of components and workpieces. [www.heller.biz]
Vector Software, the world’s leading provider of innovative software solutions for testing safety and mission critical embedded applications, has announced that Airbus Helicopters has selected VectorCAST™ as their standard corporate test solution for the company’s division in Germany. The company chose the VectorCAST/Cover, VectorCAST/C++ and VectorCAST/Ada tools to ensure that they are able to use a fully automated regression test environment to continually verify the correctness of their code.
Airbus Helicopters in Germany develops software for the UH-Tiger military helicopter, and the firm needed to quickly achieve DO-178B structural coverage while using limited resources to develop User Control Panels. The RTCA DO-178B standard is one of the most stringent safety critical standards in the world, incorporating the most rigorous testing and traceability requirements of any industry. In order to meet these goals, Airbus Helicopters selected the VectorCAST/C++ and VectorCAST/Ada tools to obtain the most automated solution available for unit and integration testing of complex C/C++, and Ada code applications.
The UH-Tiger helicopter is a medium weight, multiple role support helicopter developed for the German Armed Forces. The aircraft is known for being the first all-composite, European-built helicopter and includes advanced features like a glass cockpit, stealth technology and tremendous agility for enhanced combat survivability. Airbus Helicopters is using VectorCAST products on projects such as the User Control Panels, and selected the testing solution because of the tool’s ease of test case development and execution in addition to its flexible reporting options.
“The VectorCAST tools help Airbus Helicopters ensure that complex applications meet DO178B standard,” said Bill McCaffrey, Chief Operating Officer, Vector Software. “Organizations that use automated testing solutions can more easily meet rigorous standards like DO-178B on time, and on budget.”
First solutional approaches expected from the EMO Hannover 2013
This is not the first time a technical breakthrough was supposed to revolutionise the world of factories: we’re talking about computer-integrated manufacturing, or CIM for short. Derided by many as a CIMera. Around a quarter of a century later, we ask the scientist Prof. Dr. Thomas Bauernhansel, Director of the Institute for Industrial Manufacturing and Management (IFF) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) in Stuttgart, how far Industry 4.0 is just CIMera 2.0. Whether it will gain widespread acceptance or will remain just a bit of media hype, that’s a question to which as yet there is no definitive answer.
Be honest, when did you first hear of Industry 4.0, and what did you think of it?
Bauernhansel: It was in 2011, at a meeting of the Fraunhofer Production Matrix .We all started to google terms like cyber-physical systems, and tried to make sense of what could be meant by Industry 4.0. None of the production luminaries at this meeting had more than the vaguest idea. So the term was not coined by production experts, but comes from the fields of IT and artificial intelligence. Nonetheless, production technology experts had been working on it for a very long time.
Humans take charge of value creation
What’s the difference from CIM?
Bauernhansel: CIM was based on the assumption that we won’t be having people in the factory any more. The concept with CIM is that everything is highly integrated, and centrally controlled from a master computer. Here, humans now had merely an integrative function as planners and “commanders”. Industry 4.0 adopts an entirely fresh approach, focusing on communication, not integration. This means we have decentralised autonomous systems that communicate with each other, irrespective of the particular system and manufacturers involved. We say: the human being continues to play a central role in the factory, but a different one. He takes charge of the value creation process. And we are opting for data management in realtime. This means there’s no time-lagged data image in some central database. What happens is that the data are acquired in realtime at the places where they are currently being generated. In the context of control system technology, we’re talking about milliseconds here. In the context of planning and control, perhaps minutes or hours will suffice.
Industry 4.0 stands and falls with cyber-physical systems (CPSs). But there are experts who say they are often too expensive, not reliable enough and frequently overdimensioned. What’s your answer to one of these critics, who in fact comes from your own institute?
Bauernhansel: My respected colleague Alexander Verl has rightly remarked that ultimately we have to focus on the cost-efficiency of these systems. This critical approach is important, so as in particular to rein in those among the vendors concerned, meaning software firms or also machinery manufacturers, who are scenting business opportunities for themselves here. Ultimately, the system as a whole has to offer an advantage to the customer who is buying a product. At the moment, Industry 4.0 is being driven very largely by factory equipment producers and less by the customers. So there’s not a market crying out for it, but there is a technology that’s looking for an application. So what my colleague Alexander Verl is saying is not in contradiction to my own stance, because in the final analysis the thing has to be commercially viable.
Data security is a problem
Might it also be that many companies fear going into Industry 4.0 because they’re worried their data might be stolen from the cloud? What’s the story behind the “Virtual Fort Knox”, in which, according to the institute, “jointly used sensitive data are as safe as the USA’s gold reserves in the legendary stronghold of Fort Knox”?
Bauernhansel: There’s not going to be absolute data security in any system. It would be misleading to say security is going to be a huge problem, because security is already a huge problem now. Just as today we take the issue of security with the utmost seriousness, we shall take an equally serious approach when it comes to the issue of the cloud and concurrent users. And that’s precisely why we at the Fraunhofer IPA have launched the flagship project Virtual Fort Knox, in which we have taken a long hard look at everything: encoding and physical, communicative and organisational security: who is permitted to do what? Who has access and where?
What would you recommend in general? Should a cloud be located on the internet or rather in a firm’s own intranet?
Bauernhansel: Each company has to find its own compromise, and then decide: what data will I not be putting on the net, and what data will I be putting on my own net? What data will be located in the private cloud and what knowledge for the customers and vendors on the public cloud?
Let me return for a moment to CIM, which only began to be more widely adopted after standardisation. An expert from the automation sector has told me that standards for Industry 4.0 are a real turbo-boost for many activities, but the road to achieving a standard is very long and rocky. What’s your view on this?
Bauernhansel: We’re not all that far away from standards: from a technical viewpoint, the problem of standardisation has already been very largely solved in some fields. The actual problem is more the aspirations of firms who want to set these standards. Here we have to cultivate a community spirit. Even the major protagonists in this issue have to rethink their approach and say: yes, perhaps it makes sense that we have standardisation and openness here, assuring everyone of access to the internet of things and services. After all, it’s no use to anyone if at the end of the day we have several different internets of things dominated by large companies. Only with a standardised system will new business models evolve, able to develop their full benefits for the end-user as well.
The German Research Union, in its “Implementation Recommendations for the Industry 4.0 Future Project”, proposes taking as a model the service-oriented architectures (SOAs), which support interlinked, re-usable applications. What’s your opinion of this proposal?
Bauernhansel: I’m very much in favour of it. Service-oriented architecture has been discussed since the early 1990s. It’s not such a huge innovation on the IT side, it’s been around for a very long time. Really, it only goes to show how sluggishly the “oh-so-innovative” software industry adopts new ideas of this kind.
A glance into the future: what might a vision of Industry 4.0 look like?
Bauernhansel: We decouple affluence and growth from resource consumption, and provide large amounts of the requisite technology through the Industry 4.0 initiative. The networking, the decentralisation and the communication capabilities will lead to high levels of efficiency.
Perhaps on the way there we need some new input: “Inspired by technology” is the watchword at the 4th VDMA Congress on “More Intelligent Production”, which is being held at the EMO Hannover for the first time this year. What inspirational insights are you expecting from this congress, and from the world’s premier trade fair for the metalworking sector?
Bauernhansel: Inspired and driven by innovative technologies, the resource-efficiency potential for all production factors can be upgraded within the framework of Industry 4.0. Technology, not renunciation, has to be our motto. From the EMO Hannover and the congress, I am expecting approaches in this direction for holistically conceived, sustainable production operations of the future.
HMS Industrial Networks acquires IXXAT Automation for Industrial Networks and Safety solutions [icnweb]
From left: Staffan Dahlström, CEO at HMS, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Konrad Etschberger, founder of IXXAT, Christian Schlegel, Managing Director at IXXAT.
HMS Industrial Networks has acquired IXXAT Automation – a leading supplier of communication technology for industrial automation, machine manufacturing and the automotive industry. IXXAT was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Weingarten, Germany.
“IXXAT’s hi-tech products and services are great supplements to HMS’s business,” says Staffan Dahlström, CEO at HMS Industrial Networks. “Their strong position especially on the German automation market will strengthen our presence in Central Europe. Together with our subsidiary in Karlsruhe, IXXAT will reinforce HMS in Germany – the world’s leading market for industrial communication solutions.”
While IXXAT is known as a leading supplier of CAN-based as well as EtherCAT-, Powerlink and FlexRay- communication technology, HMS has a leading position in the Profibus/Profinet and DeviceNet/EtherNet/IP markets. Together, the two companies will have the most complete and competitive offer of communication technology for the automation markets.