Big data, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things (IoT), edge technology and cloud are all terms we are familiar with. Whether you’re a workshop, contract manufacturer, or even a machine tool builder, you’re thinking about digitization and the best way to get started.
For machine builders, it’s about managing big data from machines, reducing time-to-market, and using the latest technology to build smart machines. These are cognitive computing systems, which means they can make decisions and solve problems without human help. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes into the equation, as the machine learns from what it does. Furthermore, machines must be ready to participate in IoT to be successful in the current market.
Machine builders still sell their machines’ features and benefits, but that’s not the only way to differentiate themselves from the competition.
The digital twin concept in machine development can be simulated not only on the machine design, but also on the physical performance, even before the machine is physically activated.
With the digital twin, every condition on the machine can be simulated in real time and fed back into the design loop. This way, engineers don’t need to waste time on the shop floor or in the test center as they used to do with trial and error.
As science develops, so must the building process.
Store size doesn’t matter
CNC machine users also need their machines to be intelligent – communicating with each other and with control centers in their workshops or large production facilities. Think you can’t go digital because you’re a small machine shop? Think again.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be established and achieved faster in terms of production, machine uptime, maintenance and even energy usage.
For CNC users, the digital twin enables machine shops to be IoT-ready. High-end software allows real-time, in-process adjustments, from cycle time to tool tip position or magazine loading for the next job, to facilitate faster start-up and precise workflow.
This can be achieved with a competent digital team that is aligned with current technology and knows how to implement it in a specific environment. If needed, you should take the time to find a system integrator in your area who can provide you with relevant technical and industry knowledge. This is critical to your success.
For example, our latest digitally-native CNC SINUMERIK ONE opens a new chapter in the digital journey of the world of machine tools. It has the latest technology and software options and can scale as the workload increases or the complexity of the job increases.
In fact, it gives machine builders and end users complete flexibility to go from CAD to CAM to CNC machining steps, then into virtual workshop and into virtual production, all before the first cut on the machine Finish.
As ransomware attacks become more prevalent in industrial settings, cybersecurity concerns are becoming increasingly important.
Preventing any attack means considering several issues:
- The integrity of the network and the impact of the wireless network both in the factory and outside are important.
- How effective is your defense? Just like a football game, one wrong move by a player can adversely affect the game plan.
- There must be several specific layers of security so that setup, operation and programming, maintenance and plant operation/control personnel all have differently defined levels of access to machines and data. This is usually a time-consuming but well worthwhile endeavor.
If we look to the future, what we’re seeing is basically the digitization of every level of the factory. This includes robotic handling and transferring material to the next machine.
However, the factory of the future is not empty. Instead, personnel undertake higher-level tasks that do not involve machining. Cobots and CNCs will work intelligently with humans or directly with machines.
Digitization is here to stay, so get started today.
Brian McMinn is head of Siemens Industry’s Machine Tools business, 847-952-4158, email@example.com.