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Home / The Virtual Factory Becomes Real

The Virtual Factory Becomes Real

Take a closer look at how simulation, augmented reality and integrated workflow automation are creating a digital twin of the factory floor that generates higher end-to-end productivity, from programming, optimization and simulation of parts to equipment maintenance, field service and customer support.

AR/VR can generate digital representations of the factory floor to test and improve on-the-job situations for greater worker safety and comfort and higher productivity. In maintenance and repair, service technicians can use AR/VR to connect online with equipment and customers in the field, using video and audio streams to share the same field of view in real-time to rectify faults or optimize processes, reduce equipment downtime and eliminate time-consuming and costly site visits.
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As the New Year begins, the metalworking business is rapidly evolving as new technologies are adopted on more fronts than ever before: from product design and development to manufacturing, from maintenance and repair to field service and customer support, from training to worker safety. Two distinct but related technologies are coming of age to make lean manufacturing leaner, integrate shops into the smart factory revolution to remain competitive, and help them address the skilled labor shortage. One is simulation, which is introducing new Industry 4.0 (IoT) levels of smart manufacturing into metal fabrication, particularly inside CAD/CAM workflow and machining processes. Users can create a digital twin of their machine tools for programming, optimization and simulation of parts. This virtual machine ensures that whatever happens on screen will also occur on the shop floor. Parts and cutting tools are both set up virtually, resulting in exacting simulations in less, greater productivity and better toolpaths for higher quality parts.

References

  1. “America’s Factory Floors Reimagined: Introduction to Virtual, Augmented Reality Technologies,” Dave Morton, SME industry development manager for aerospace and defense, Advanced Manufacturing.org, November 2017, retrieved from http://advancedmanufacturing.org/americas-factory-floors-reimagined-introduction-virtual-augmented-reality-technologies.
  2. “Three Wearables for Your Factory,” Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of EU Automation, Fabricating & Metalworking, March 20, 2018, retrieved from https://www.fabricatingandmetalworking.com/2018/03/three-wearables-for-your-factory.

The other is the new generation of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies that are revamping operations in product development, maintenance and repair, operator training and worker safety. Combined VR/AR sales are forecast to hit $150 billion by 2020, with AR alone comprising about $120 billion.1 Just as simulation can create virtual representations of parts being machined to avoid collisions and meet geometrical tolerances, AR/VR can generate digital representations of the factory floor to test and improve on-the-job situations for greater worker safety and comfort and higher productivity.2 In maintenance and repair, service technicians can use AR/VR to connect online with equipment and customers in the field, using video and audio streams to share the same field of view in real-time to rectify faults or optimize processes. This reduces equipment downtime and eliminates time-consuming and costly site visits in many cases.

As simulation and AR/VR technologies mature and price points decrease, and as products being manufactured become ever more complex, expect more shops – regardless of size – to adopt and tailor them to their business in creative ways that improve productivity, efficiency and worker safety, and help them remain competitive.1 Here are some of the latest ways that simulation, augmented reality and integrated workflow automation are creating a digital twin of the factory floor that generates higher end-to-end productivity, from programming, optimization and simulation of parts to equipment maintenance, field service and customer support:

The Machine Tool as a CMM: Live Simulation of Measurement with Feedback to Improve Machining
CappsNC software from Applied Automation Software allows programming offline and runs any CNC machine tool as a CMM by using integrated measurement data to automatically improve the machining process.

Simulate the Entire Production Process in a Digital Factory
FASTSUITE Edition 2 3D simulation software for the digital factory from CENIT uses Industry 4.0 and the digital twin for offline programming of complex robot applications, resource building, layout planning, offline programming, PLC validation and virtual commissioning of the entire production process.

Simulation Redefined: Optimize NC Toolpaths and Processes for Competitive Advantage
VERICUT 8.2 CNC Simulation Software from CGTech improves simulation visibility, speeds up workflow and streamlines each user’s verification process to increase their competitive stance through NC toolpath and process optimization.

Plan-Do-See Takes Machining Automation and Efficiency to the Next Level
LAPSYS software from Fuji Machine visualizes the origin of a part, including machine and spindle, to enable part traceability, predictive maintenance and remote operation for unprecedented machining automation and efficiency.

Interactive Training Uses Guided CNC Programming for Realistic Machining Practice
The HIT 3.0 multimedia online CNC controls learning program from Heidenhain teaches advanced and apprentice-level programming for 3-axis machining with guided simulation that enables users to gain realistic practice.

Simulation-Based CNC Training for Machinists on a Virtual Machine Tool
Machining Training Solutions CNC virtual simulation-based software from Huron Machine Products provides a real-world programming environment on an interactive virtual CNC machine that uses nearly every controller on the market for students and machinists to train at any time on any device.

Seen Through the Eye of the User: Live Remote Maintenance Using Smart Glasses
Using a tablet, smartphone or smart glasses for remote maintenance of sawing machines and storage systems, VisualAssistance from KASTO lets users send live videos to service experts and receive real-time visual assistance and information to correct faults, perform maintenance work, reduce downtime and minimize costs.

Managing the Digital Twin of Complex Assemblies in Real-Time
Using a Windows desktop, any HTML5 browser and even in virtual reality, the 3DViewStation graphic engine from KISTERS can provide a PLM system, ERP, product configurator or after-sales application with a real-time Digital Twin of fully detailed trucks, industrial HVAC systems or other complex assemblies with hundreds of thousands of parts.

Augmented Reality Delivers Digital Work Instructions to Field Service Technicians
Using Onsight Flow paperless work instructions from Librestream on their wearables for hands-free operation or on their smartphones and tablets, the digital field service worker can remotely inspect and troubleshoot assets quicker, safer and more consistently.

Cloud-Based CNC Simulation and Verification
Using cloud-based CNC Simulation and Verification component software from MachineWorks, networked mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops can visualize multiple simulations running concurrently on a single machine and multiple clients can simultaneously watch and record a single simulation.

Advanced Toolpath Generation and Visual Simulation Increase Machining Productivity
ModuleWorks 2018.08 CAD/CAM software advances capabilities in 5-axis and 3-axis machining, machine simulation, the MultiXPost Kinematic Solver, and Collision Avoidance System and Job Setup simulation for real-time collision avoidance and faster machine setups.

Virtual Machining Improves Workflow and Increases Efficiency
Built with Industry 4.0 in mind, hyperMILL 2018.2 CAM software from OPEN MIND Technologies provides new features and advances in 3D Shape Z-level Finishing and 3D Optimized Roughing, greater CAD functionality, and more.

Next Steps in Virtual Machining
Eureka Virtual Machining Release 9 from Roboris introduces laser scanning process simulation, interactive G-code reviewing functionalities, visual post processing of CNC programming, simulated cycloidal cutting and more.

Advanced Technologies for the Digital Factory
Manufacturers in the automotive, aerospace, heavy machinery and other industrial sectors can gain productivity, quality, revenue and profit increases through Industry 4.0 tools from Tata Technologies.

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