The world of manufacturing is and will continue to change rapidly. Most companies will be impacted by the evolution of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing technologies. Factories are becoming smarter with the Internet of Things movement, in addition to advancements in robotics and automation. All of these technologies will enable engineers to design with fewer boundaries and to influence business results from the shop floor to the top floor. At the core of most technologies is data – but simply having data is not enough. Whether the data is identifying and describing the workpiece, the materials, the machines that will make it, the approval specification or other manufacturing criteria, all of the information must be organized in a manner which allows the data to work for you. This is where the digital intelligence of the smart factory comes into play.
In the smart factory, digital intelligence moves beyond online catalogs and tool selectors that shops use to search for the latest solutions to their production process. The on-demand smart digital system uses embedded intelligence in application engineering and machining knowledge and integrates this into process planning to open the path to a completely connected digital art-to-part-to-profit process. Similar to how the Internet of Things typically pertains to machine-to-machine communication, customers and systems can tap into the digital product portfolio and engineering knowledge of a tooling manufacturer. The digital system then allows product data and knowledge to interact harmoniously to provide specific tooling and machining solutions for the user.
A machining solution for one user may be a piece of data (such as starting feeds and speeds parameters), while a solution for another user may be a physical product. This level of digital intelligence is not only designed to be intuitive for the user, but to cater to their wide range of needs, responsibilities and expertise. For example, our manufacturing plants are fortunate to have the opportunity to utilize our own tooling solutions to manufacture products within our portfolio. Similarly, machine tools which are required to manufacture these products also represent a portion of our customer base. All of which gives us additional insights into understanding the field requirements and expectations of our customers. The result is NOVO, a valuable tool of digital intelligence that allows all parties to succeed internally and externally while fostering collaboration.
NOVO is a cloud-enabled application developed by Kennametal that allows users in the field access from any computer and most tablets without the need to save and transfer information. Also, companies and users do not need to worry about data security, considering that a NOVO job is simply the reconfiguration of our own digital product data and knowledge. The application is not capable of uploading models, drawings or other pieces of customer intellectual property. If concerns remain, this digital tool also works well as a standalone Wi-Fi enabled workstation, communicating through email to a company’s internal systems.
When considering the end-to-end manufacturing process, NOVO creates a foundation of touch points which will continue to evolve and grow with technology. At the beginning of the process, valid product solutions can be found via direct data queries, traversing the product portfolio tree, filtering product characteristics or by the use of a feature guide called the “Tool Advisor.” Each solution can be intelligently assembled with compatible products and organized within a “Job” to establish a process. Proven machining strategies can also be accessed during the early stages and associated to the entire process. Providing additional information regarding the workpiece material and machine tool enables NOVO to refine solutions and ensures the tooling will be compatible with the overall machining environment.
During the pre-production phase of the process, NOVO enables presetting, simulation and CAM software solutions to connect and import product information, 3D models, drawings and parameters to expedite the preset, validation and programming processes. While streamlining the process, this system also eliminates the misapplication of tooling solutions which typically occur at the programming and operator levels – and it always recommends the correct hardware needed for a tool. The stage is now set for a smooth manufacturing run. If there is a design change in the workpiece, or if the workpiece is manufactured again at a later date, NOVO can be re-engaged to ensure the process is running with the latest and optimum tooling solutions.
Taking into account this entire cycle, the digital intelligence of NOVO has enabled the user to process a workpiece from its digital art form and successfully manufacture a part using the best tooling solutions and strategies to maximize time, efficiency and profitability. In other words, the digital intelligence of the smart factory now allows tooling consumers in the field to access and leverage a strong and solid foundation of digital product data and knowledge from a tooling manufacturer to gain their own competitive advantage. They simply add the products they need to a shopping cart to place an order or quote, just as simple as online shopping. For those users who require purchases to be made by other means, NOVO can simply export and email purchasing information for consumption.
That’s not all. Providing this cloud-based application free of charge not only allows all parties involved to be as efficient and profitable as possible, but it also encourages honest feedback that opens collaboration opportunities for future enhancements and builds stronger customer relationships. Whether a novice or an expert, tackling a simple task or processing a complete job, digital intelligence in the smart factory is there to connect systems and processes throughout the entire manufacturing lifecycle to create a more productive and competitive landscape. Considering how labor costs are on the rise around the globe, this sort of smart digital intelligence is also providing avenues for manufacturers to remain competitive and increase their output per employee. As manufacturing processes and technologies continue to transform into the smart factory, digital intelligence will enable tooling users to adapt to the latest manufacturing trends.
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