Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT; Aachen, Germany), Ericsson (Stockholm, Sweden) and GF Machining Solutions (Geneva, Switzerland) joined forces on a collaboration to create a networked, adaptive manufacturing solution that debuted at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, Sept. 10-15, 2018.
When milling parts at high speeds, excessive vibrations can occur, resulting in surface defects and rework. However, in industries requiring high process reliability and strict compliance control such as the aerospace sector, there is no room for error.
Fraunhofer IPT, Ericsson and GF Machining Solutions combined their expertise in telecommunications and manufacturing to create a real-time process monitoring solution based on 5G technology to communicate with sensors and machines to reduce errors in jet engines milling production.
The ultra-low latency and reliability of Ericsson’s mobile communications will enable increased predictability, real-time monitoring of sensor vibration data and better production control, thus allowing for adjustment of the cutting parameters. Where wired or unlicensed solutions such as wireless LAN cannot meet the needed speed demands for the application, 5G has proven to be the only communication standard that can deliver on the sensor and production data in under one millisecond.
The aim of Ericsson, Fraunhofer IPT and GF is to further develop this kind of wireless sensor connection for real-time data analysis as presented at IMTS, ensuring adaptive control of production processes with extremely short reaction times. The three partners chose a Mikron MILL P 500 U from GF that uses direct-torque motors as well as a precise gantry with to 1.7 g acceleration and an accuracy of ±2 µm in the plane, which delivers the power and precision to enable such fast reactivity.
Due to high-value components and complex production with safety regulations and standards, the aeronautics industry was identified as a potential early adopter of 5G networks in production. Other sectors are sure to follow as industries switch to more data-driven and flexible manufacturing. Industry 4.0 will rely on increasingly fast, secure, and often wireless data transfers to optimize operations, increase automation, and mitigate risk in manufacturing environments.
In the case of the Blade-Integrated Disks (BLISK), a component of a jet engine’s compressor, the workpiece could not be inspected until the lengthy milling process was over, leading to defective products and rework up to 25%. By using 5G-enabled process monitoring, one single factory could see annual savings of up to USD 30 million.
“Our main challenge is the increasing number and complexity of parts we have to design and produce,” said Thomas Dautl, director of manufacturing technology and industrialization, MTU Aero Engines (Munich, Germany). “5G will bring a very important benefit so we can handle more data in real-time.”
All production and sensor data can be stored individually for each product, creating digital twins for quality design, accurate documentation, and analytics. If defects arise, the data pinpoints to where the fault originated and the production can be optimized.
“This technology, thanks to its interoperability and limitless capabilities, is the perfect fit for our current analytics-based in-process development,” said Benoit Defrasne, head of marketing and product management milling at GF Machining Solutions. “As such, it is a great enabler of our digitalization road map.”
The potential fields of applications and use cases for 5G are numerous.
”We invite all interested companies to visit us in Aachen, Germany, to experience our unique test environment for industrial 5G applications,” said Niels König, manager of the production metrology department and coordinator of 5G activities at the Fraunhofer IPT. “The International Center for Networked Adaptive Production (ICNAP) in Aachen will gather partners from the ICT and manufacturing industries as a collaboration platform to address all relevant questions that come along with the digitalization of production in the context of Industry 4.0. 5G is currently one of the major topics for the ICNAP.”
The selected communication standard determines the type of application, the quality of the data and whether or not machines, sensors, robots can be securely managed and interconnected through one network.
“Cellular networks [such as] 4G/LTE and the evolution to 5G provide one simple, secure, and smart wireless solution for critical and massive IIoT, handling growing network, data, and application demands of Industry 4.0,” said Erik Josefsson, head of advanced industries at Ericsson.