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Maximize the Benefits of Smart Manufacturing

Software, controls, automation and robotics assist job shops in getting the most value from their machines and staff, including facilitating continuous improvements.

Posted: June 17, 2022

AMADA’s Influent software improves production, quality and profitability.
ATI’s AOV-10 Robotic Orbital Sander.
With the custom HGG AR helmet, customers can share the exact view of machine parts and the machine area that needs troubleshooting with an HGG engineer.
Universal Automation Discovery Packs enable innovators to experience the benefits of universal automation.
With its optimized motion control, high-performance automation and open operating concept, Sinumerik MC is an ideal control for various fabrication machines — especially metal forming, and additive machines, among others.
TRUMPF’s Service App offers customers an alternative to contacting technical service.
With the Visual Assistance App, TRUMPF can remotely see what customers see and support them in quickly solving their problem.

The ever-evolving technologies available to job shops aid in finding and overcoming inefficiencies in processes, train team members virtually, and perform maintenance tasks remotely. Robots and automation systems continue to move the fabrication industry forward, all while keeping team members safe.

An IIoT Software Solution for Shops

Designed by manufacturing engineers, Influent by AMADA America Inc. (Schaumburg, IL) provides shop floor visibility like never before. By integrating everything in a manufacturing environment, the barrier between the office and the shop floor is eliminated, thereby giving management clear, real-time visibility. With Influent, all decision-making can be made with utmost certainty by providing current and factual data to identify inefficiencies and enable continuous improvement. Since Influent monitors and records every aspect of the shop, validating a new improvement decision is automatic. In addition, management can quickly and efficiently verify effectiveness — eliminating guesswork in improvement validation.

Measure: You can determine many things about the things you have by measuring them, but some measurements may not translate well across different machines or alternative processes. Influent’s IIoT framework universalizes data from different sources by normalizing your collected data, allowing you to compare different machines, processes, and costs easily.

Analyze: With Influent, many third-party analytic tools can be incorporated into your solution, as well as the advanced sheet metal specific analytical tools that AMADA provides. You can even use a custom formula or KPI that may apply specifically to your industry.

Improve: Influent makes it easy to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies with informative dashboards, relevant reporting, and real-time data. Historical data shows improvement progress over time.

Influent Monitor provides a seamless transition to a more robust IoT implementation. Influent is designed to expand with your company. From simple to enterprise-wide implementation, Influent is intended to be highly scalable.

Influent Enterprise is designed to integrate with the client’s existing IT investment through robust customization. Unique requirements or processes can be implemented your way with Influent’s customization.

Robotic Orbital Sander for Surface Treatment

ATI Industrial Automation’s (Apex, NC) AOV-10 Robotic Orbital Sander is ideal for surface preparation and finishing. With built-in compliance, the AOV-10 is well-suited for different robotic application types—even those that require a light touch.

In manual material removal operations, a skilled person’s ability to feel and visually inspect subtle changes in surface conditions allows them to instinctively adjust forces to compensate for variations and produce a uniform process on the workpiece. Manual material removal jobs, often labeled as dull, dirty, and dangerous, need responsiveness to ensure consistent results. For systems using the AOV-10, a pneumatically actuated, adjustable, compliance mechanism provides dynamic control of contact forces, ensures an ideal result every time, and accommodates a wide variety of applications.

The sander can be used as a direct replacement for manual surface preparation and finishing techniques to ensure high quality results without safety hazards or compromised labor. The design is compact and lightweight which suits a range of robot sizes and types, from cobots to industrial models. Double-acting motion offsets the weight of the AOV-10 to produce the desired finish no matter how the tool is configured. Users can mount the AOV-10 directly to their robot or fixture in any orientation, including upside-down, and can also integrate the automatic media changer for hands-free exchange of sanding media.

This surface prep and finishing solution not only keeps employees away from undesirable conditions, but also overcomes process variation due to part misalignment, part geometry inconsistency, or robot path deviations. This leads to three main benefits: the programming process becomes quicker and easier, and the overall quality of the process increases which ultimately drives costs down, and quick hands-free media change increases productivity. ATI’s robotic sander includes a curated 3M media kit of sanding discs and backup pads.

Remote Service Support With AR

HGG Profiling Equipment (Houston, TX) has introduced its Remote Service Support capability with augmented reality (AR). Customers can expect timely onsite assistance without the need, or the delays, common with travel and scheduling. Instead, customers benefit from reliable real-time machine diagnosis and troubleshooting, immediate audio-visual feedback, and quick turnaround.

The remote service incorporates a custom HGG helmet providing an augmented reality solution. When customers wear this helmet, an HGG engineer can see and hear what the customer sees and hears in real time. More specifically, customers can share their exact view of machine parts and the machine area, enabling experienced HGG engineers to guide customers step-by-step using visual pointers to resolve issues or problems. The AR remote support service facilitates expert machine analysis, while providing immediate audible communications through special headphones. Customers benefit from real time, onsite international assistance from the same HGG engineers who have installed and supported more than 500 machines worldwide.

HGG, headquartered in Wieringerwerf, Netherlands, is a leading supplier of pipe cutting machines, robotic profile cutting lines and associated cutting equipment solutions around the world. HGG maintains subsidiaries around the world, with a new facility in Houston, which provides comprehensive sales and service support for the company’s growing customer base in the Americas.

Universal Next-generation Automation

Schneider Electric (Boston, MA) offers a Universal Automation Discovery Packs program, giving innovators the opportunity to explore the benefits of universal automation. Through this program, OEMs, system integrators, end users and others receive a free license to explore this next-generation automation system.

Universal automation is a disruptive technology based on the IEC61499 standard for interoperability and portability that decouples hardware and software by addressing one of the industry’s largest challenges to innovation — single-vendor lock-in. By having the opportunity to explore this innovative technology before leveraging it for commercial projects, innovators can better understand how the platform can support their organizational goals and improve operational efficiency.

Universal Automation Discovery Packs are for non-commercial use, enabling innovators to experience the benefits of universal automation while evaluating the interoperability and portability of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Automation Expert system with compatible third-party hardware. Available on both Microsoft- and Linux-based machines, the plug-and-produce automation software components are based on IEC61499.

The vendor agnostic EcoStruxure Automation Expert is an ideal platform for Industry 4.0 solutions, providing excellent reusability, scalability and architectural flexibility. Schneider Electric will offer users one free engineering license and an unlimited number of runtime licenses valid for 12 months, with no purchase required (offer valid for U.S. customers only).

Controller is an Open, Industrial PC-based CNC for Fabrication and Metal Processing Machines

Siemens (Chicago, IL) offers the Sinumerik Motion Control (MC) controller, a universal, open, industrial PC-based CNC system. Its optimized motion control, high-performance automation and integrated Windows 10 operating system make it an ideal control for fabrication and specialty machines, including laser and even conventional basic grinding machines. With an open operating concept, this control system is also suitable for certain additive manufacturing, metal forming, adhesive applications, plate-cutting, grinding and laser or waterjet cutting.

The Windows 10 operating system provides easy integration of customized software for these machines.  The open operating concept and the extensive range of interfaces make it a universal, open control, which can be utilized in existing fabrication machine solutions. Sinumerik MC is equipped with the latest generation of the proven Sinumerik numerical control (NC) kernel to meet the demands of the fabrication industry.

It facilitates motion control with maximum accuracy and — thanks to G-code programming — offers the freedom and flexibility in machine control. The integrated Simatic S7-1500F PLC increases the speed of response which, in turn, improves the automation performance. Sinumerik MC offers Safety Integrated as the Siemens industry standard for safety and implements the multi-layer Defense-in-Depth-Concept for IT Security. Sinumerik MC can be engineered in the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal, which provides a highly efficient engineering environment. This opens up new engineering opportunities for machine builders. Conventional PLC languages and high-level language programming are available in the TIA Portal to create automation programs for the control system. This is assisted by fast and simple commissioning offered by Sinumerik Operate, the graphical user interface of the Siemens CNC system.

Interactive Service Apps Offer Alternatives to Traditional Customer Service

TRUMPF (Farmington, CT) offers two downloadable TruServices applications: the TRUMPF Visual Assistance (TVA) App and the TRUMPF Service App. TVA is an interactive visual support tool that uses smartphone and video stream technology to help overcome the distance between customers and service engineers digitally. With TRUMPF Visual Assistance, TRUMPF can see what customers see and support them in quickly solving their problem remotely. The TVA App can also improve identification of necessary spare parts, reduce repair and maintenance costs by minimizing onsite service missions, and increase machine productivity and uptime through fast and effective problem solving. The TRUMPF Service App offers customers an alternative to contacting technical service. Using the Service App customers can easily relay information about technical problems, required spare parts, or question about maintenance in just a few clicks at any time of day. The service case is forwarded directly to the designated service engineer who will contact customers by phone or via the app. After the case is submitted, customers are alerted by push notification of the case status through the app. For even greater transparency, every employee who has the app installed has access to the latest information about all their service cases.

Software Offers Machine Preventative Maintenance Tracking

Wintriss Controls Group (Acton, MA) has announced new, advanced features in its ShopFloorConnect® OEE and Data Collection Software. The latest functionality in ShopFloorConnect gives fabricating and metalworking professionals efficient and easy-to-use software for increased efficiency and reduced downtime, including when remote monitoring is required. The software can significantly increase manufacturing capacity and profitability by identifying and quantifying excessive production losses and bottlenecks. The new PM Tracker enables users to track important machine preventative maintenance (PM) items by run hours or machine cycles, issues targeted alerts when an item requires PM, and tracks the maintenance work history for all machines. ShopFloorConnect 6.0 also features a new Universal Interactive Application Program Interface that enables users to quickly set up two-way data sharing with any ERP or MES software. The software collects downtime and production efficiency data from every machine, in a variety of industries.

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