AMB Germany: Networking machine tool industry

Editor: Barbara Schulz

Will the machine tool develop to become a PC with a spindle, will software determine the success or failure of a machine? Answers to these questions will be provided at the upcoming AMB International Exhibition for Metalworking from 13 to 17 September 2016 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Professor Jivka Ovtcharova and Michael Grethler, head of the "Industrie 4.0 Collaboration Lab" in the IMI, in front of a virtual 3D depiction of a complete production hall.
Professor Jivka Ovtcharova and Michael Grethler, head of the "Industrie 4.0 Collaboration Lab" in the IMI, in front of a virtual 3D depiction of a complete production hall.
(Source: KIT)

Machine tools are becoming increasingly more precise, quicker and better. This will also be demonstrated during the forthcoming AMB, International Exhibition for Metalworking in Stuttgart, Germany from 13 to 17 September 2016, which is expected to attract more than 90,000 visitors. However, the basic principle of the metal cutting machine is changing very little. Several rotatory and linear axes are combined differently in a closed housing. The control units are also not readily accessible. But machine tools have to open up in future.

In times of "Industry 4.0", actually only another term for "networking", the machine tool must network and go digital to communicate with its environment; in the machine tool industry, Industry 4.0 is about extending existing system intelligence into adjacent systems, and from there into complex manufacturing systems where the machine manufacturer, the suppliers and the owner may be constantly connected for providing remote service and process improvements.

Establishing cyyber-physical systems

Digitisation, the conversion of information into a digital format that can be understood by computer systems, is the basis for intelligent manufacturing solutions and the establishment of cyber-physical systems, explains Roberto Perez, head of Industry 4.0, at GF Machining Solutions.

“Our Industry 4.0 approach is to envision intelligent manufacturing solutions that will target fully predictive processes, which could be readily tuned to the best performance with respect to specific but fast-changing requirements faced by complex manufacturing businesses”. VDW (German Machine Tool Builders' Association) Chairman Heinz-Jürgen Prokop agrees.

"In order to continue to safeguard our strong position in the international competition, it is increasingly important to provide solutions [for Industrie 4.0] that others are not able to offer." Machine tool manufacturers, he says, would be well advised to expand their vision and to think in terms of holistic solutions to production problems. This requires a deep process understanding of customer requirements, which in some cases vary greatly. "Nobody knows these worlds better than we [the German machine tool builders] do, and this is our great opportunity."

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