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Automation Technologies 3/2016

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Automation Technologies 3/2016

Modernized tool

Modernized tool identification system increases productivity INDUSTRIAL COMMUNICATION The Internet of Things (IoT) is based on networked systems and machines with the objective of rebalancing quantity- and cost-optimized automation with the greatest possible flexibility up to lot size 1 and to combine both. In plain English this means producing highly individual products efficiently and in the shortest possible time. In this sense the project which began in 2010 to completely modernize the production at the SMS group in Mönchengladbach, Germany, represents a significant step towards the IoT. Tool identification using Tool-ID from Balluff is here a key component. In the production processes, the challenges that the 4th industrial revolution seeks to meet are the ever shorter product life cycles and increasing customer individuality. As a consequence, this means that the production equipment and machines need to be available faster in order to meet the changing demands of the end products in a shorter time. “For systems and machine builders, one of the essential challenges is to significantly reduce throughput times and thereby delivery times”, explains Alexander Goebels from the SMS group. The head of production planning at the Mönchengladbach plant highlights here one of the central objectives for the total modernization of production, which begun back in 2010. “We are taking a variety of small and larger steps on the path to the IoT. One of these steps is greater flexibility in our own production, which is to say production planning with respect to flexible machine utilization” adds Alexander Goebels. Overall tool management based on tool identification using Tool-ID from Balluff is a key component in the new organization and automation concept. “Apart from that our tool management today is neither economically justifiable without the RFID data carriers, nor is it conceivable for reasons of process reliability with respect to error prevention etc.” adds Judith Schmitt, plant manager for mechanical production. Three years and a completely modern production line SMS initiated their strategic project for complete modernization of production even long before the term the Internet of Things (IoT) reached the ears of the public. The goals of this strategic project were consistent increase in productivity and shortening of delivery times. Behind these objectives is an investment volume of over 60 million Euros. Over half of this investment was in highly modern production equipment. In just 3 years all the machines were replaced - all without interrupting production. Today, boring mills, a double boring mill with two operator’s platforms, gantry machines, vertical lathes and flatbed lathes with up to 21 meters of travel are producing complex parts made of steel, tempered steel weighing up to 200 tons. About Balluff With over 50 years of sensor experience, Balluff GmbH is a world leader and manufacturer of sensor technology with company office in Neuhausen near Stuttgart, Germany. 3,000 employees nationally and abroad are committed to this. For all areas of automation they offer electronic and mechanical sensors, rotary and linear displacement transducers, identification systems and optimised connection technology for efficient automation. AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 3/2016

Highly modern component production at the SMS plant, which belongs to the SMS group, one of the leading global system suppliers of plants, machines and services along the entire metallurgical value chain All the machines are incorporated into an integrated framework organization. In addition, a host production controller computes the best possible machine utilization. Also, as a part of the overall system is a central tool pre-setter, that supplies tools to all the machines. For the most part, tools are provided automatically to the machining centers, such as in the heart of production, with 4 machining centers and a high-bay warehouse for the work-piece pallet automation system. “On average the machining time for components in this production area is 2 hours per fixture, with often 70 to 80 different tools required”, adds Alexander Goebels. A particular highlight of the high-bay warehouses is the integrated shuttle system for fully automatic supplying of the machining centers with tools. The prepared tools are brought to intermediate storage stations at the machining centers. From there a second shuttle takes the individual tools and brings them with the movement of the respective platform machine, so that the tool handler of the machine can take the tools quasi on-the-fly during the main work phase. The tools are returned in the same manner. Goebels notes that in this area alone, around 1 000 actively job-specific tools are circulating. 01 The core component of the fully automated tool provision for the machining centers is the Tool-ID system from Balluff Tool identification system: a necessity, not a luxury “In the entire plant we manage around 10,000 technologically and geometrically different tools, each of which is available either singly or if needed as multiples“, adds Peter Sosnitzka, who is responsible for the tool setters. In his area all the tool components are maintained and prepared. Here the relevant tool parameters are sent to the Balluff RFID data carriers without contact at the same time they are measured. The data are simultaneously passed along to the ‘Exapt’ tool and production management program, which handles the entire process chain from tool identification to management to actual production use. This system ensures consistent processes, greater transparency and increased production efficiency. The Tool-ID system from Balluff further ensures that all the required tool data including the tool life is available, correct and up-to-date, at every place the tools are used. This reliability and the errorless electronic data transmission via RFID read/write heads is especially valuable in the production areas where tools are manually transferred. Sustained increase in productivity and shortened delivery times “One of the greatest challenges of the entire project was modernizing the infrastructure, setting up and starting up the new machines for the existing and full-running production”, explains Wilhelm Plaßwilm, Foreman of Electrical Maintenance at the SMS plant in Mönchengladbach. In that phase manual tool management had to be used for a short time. “It took us more than 3 times the working time”, as Judith Schmitt recalls. But what she values even more than the time savings is the security of the infallible data for every tool provided by the fixed RFID data carrier and the errorless transfer of the parameters when tools are changed. “Even the slightest keyboarding mistake can have fatal consequences”, notes Judith Schmitt, who can hardly dare to think about the machine downtimes, much less possible damage to the expensive components. An equally important advantage of Tool-ID from 02 Prepared tools at the tool presetter in the SMS plant: There are a total of around 10,000 technologically and geometrically different tools, which without RFID technology would be difficult to manage Balluff is the optimal service life resulting for the tools. Even if the savings potential at SMS cannot be exactly quantified, continuous checks and writing back the run durations to the data carrier ensure that timely regrinding or replacing of tools is ensured, thereby preventing premature discarding. This reduces tool costs and allows the inventory to be kept in exact proportion to needs. “The tool identification system from Balluff contributes in many ways to sustained increase in productivity and shortened delivery times“, summarizes Alexander Goebels, who sees overall a halving of delivery times as achieving the goals of the modernization project of SMS in Mönchengladbach. Photographs: SMS Group, Balluff GmbH AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 3/2016


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