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Rotary tilting table on the milling center Swiss Precision Plus The Swiss maker GF Machining Solutions has equipped its 5-axis high-performance machining centers with the versatile IO-Link communication interface. Users will now profit from simpler handling as well as never before availability of process data for configuration, diagnostic and service purposes. Author: Wolfgang Zosel, freelance industry journalist, Reutlingen, Germany AUTOMATION The IO-Link technology is a communication system for connecting intelligent sensors and actuators to an automation system. In addition to simple handling, this also shortens the installation and start-up phase and makes it easier to meet individual customer requirements for cables and tool management. For this reason, the Swiss manufacturer GF Machining Solutions (GFMS) has equipped its 5-axis high-performance machining centers with the versatile IO-Link communication interface. The new Mikron MILL P 500 U thus meets the highest precision requirements and IO-Link has established itself at GFML as a real push technology for digitized and networked system concepts. Highest precision with accuracies of +/- 2 micrometers Stefan Fahrni, Milling Product Manager, puts in a nutshell what customers appreciate about GFMS machining centers: “With accuracies of +/- 2 micrometers we meet the requirements for the highest precision and consistently high quality. In order to ensure thermal stability, the machine bed is made of an especially heavy duty mineral casting. We use water-cooled components to ensure that heat sources cannot have an effect on the customer’s product.” As a member of GF Machining Solutions, Mikron Agie Charmilles AG with headquarters in Nidau near Biel is a globally active manufacturer of machines, automation solutions for mold and tool making as well as for the manufacturing of precision parts. The new Mill P 500 U is a 5-axis high performance machine for both precision part manufacturers active in the aerospace, machinery and defense industries, general mechanic industries and precision mold makers active in industries such as automotive and home appliance. The core of the machine is a base module for top or front loading. Depending on the customer requirement either partly or fully automated feed mechanisms as well as differently dimensioned tool magazines are available. The “Integral Connectivity 4” project The first stages of development of the Mill P 500 U go back several years. Most of the focus was on what customer requirements would look like in the future. Long before the term Industry 4.0 became an IO-Link by Balluff makes high-performance milling machine ready for Industry 4.0 electrifying metaphor for an entire sector, the developers at GFMS had recognized the significance of increasing digitization and networking including the associated opportunities. “In addition to simple position values, intelligent sensors today offer a variety of process data right where the action is taking place. The question is 8 WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 2020

how to use this in an uncomplicated and efficient way for process optimization. What changes with respect to equipment handling? How does the customer benefit, what changes for us as a manufacturer,” summarizes Konrad Meier, Head of Electronic Design. This was a reason for the company in 2014 to create the “Integral Connectivity 4” project: GF Machining Solutions used this to pursue the goal of implementing more functional security in the controller, modular electronic concepts with decentralized linking of the peripherals, as well as a simple, thorough communication solution between the command level and the sensor/actuator level. No more cumbersome multi-pin wiring; the installation, assembly and maintenance effort was to be drastically reduced and the diagnostic capability increased. 01 Mill P 500 U highperformance milling center with its versatile and simply programmable IO-Link SmartLight stack light 02 8 x ProfiNet/IO-Link master and IO-Link sensor/actuator hub from Balluff (right); the cables are installed via plug-and-play without the need for tools Development of an integrated IO-Link concept “In spring of 2014 we had an opportunity to present the IO-Link communication standard, which at that time was hardly known at GF Machining Solutions. Two of the engineers quickly recognized that this bidirectional interface would provide answers to a variety of questions. A short time later we got the order to work with GF Machining Solutions to develop an integrated IO-Link concept for the planned Mill P 500,” recalls Thomas Zumbrunn, sales engineer with the Swiss Balluff subsidiary. As a globally standardized IO standard (IEC 61131-9) IO-Link enables uncomplicated data exchange between sensors/actuators and the master/control level - using just the familiar standard 3-conductor cable and M12 connector! This efficient point-to-point connection is not a fieldbus, but rather a logical continuation of the previous connection technology for sensors and actuators. In addition to many different sensors for position and object detection, valve terminals and pressure sensors on the rotary index table including RFID tool management, the Mill P 500 U with its various feed mechanisms organizes dozens of signals. IO-Link is in contact with the Siemens and Heidenhain controllers in the system via Profinet IO-Link masters. “IO-Link offers a previously unknown simplification from the conception to the installation and commissioning phase thanks to its standardization. Installation with IO-Link means error-free plug-in instead of error-prone wiring. Shielded special cables and expensive plug-in cards are passé, drag chains undergo drastic reduction, and equipment with IO-Link guarantees high EMC stability. Advantages of IO-Link in use IO-Link really shows its strengths in customer application: a simple to use central recipe management system allows users to reconfigure entire sensor groups in seconds from the master or controller level. The threshold value of a pressure sensor is no longer set on the device, but rather centrally by the master or from the HMI. Replacing a defective sensor no longer involves a long system stoppage: just a few seconds after plugging in the cable the device receives its relevant values from the central location and resumes its intended task. Intelligent sensors are able to transmit a wealth of parameter and status data in real time, thus creating a comprehensive picture of the status of things on the process level. This opens up new diagnostic and predictive maintenance approaches: the milling tool equipped with an RFID chip sends its specific product and use data 03 Valve terminal plugs connect decentralized valve terminals to the control level via IO-Link to the controller and prompts a sharpening date ahead of time. When a lens gets dirty a photoelectric sensor sends a notification that performance is being degraded and prompts intervention. A drive tells the system that a defined temperature limit has been exceeded. Service and maintenance actions are possible remotely down to the sensor/actuator level while meeting the operator’s safety specifications. Easily visualize every conceivable status Part of the IO-Link portfolio equipping the new Mill P 500 U is the SmartLight from Balluff: the IO-Link stack light is freely and easily programmable, with options for stack light, level, run light and flexi modes with a broad color spectrum range. “This allows us to easily visualize every conceivable status, warning message or prompt for action. And mainly we only need to stock a single, universally adaptable light type,” emphasizes Konrad Meier. By using IO-Link GF Machining Solutions and Balluff have shown that an amazingly simple technology can further refine an essentially highly precise and reliable process. “Balluff was not just a parts supplier, but rather a valuable consultant and equal level project partner. Which is why “IO-Link by Balluff” will be a fixed part of our offering in the future as well,” summarizes Stefan Fahrni. Photos: Balluff WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 2020 9


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