The dream of Industry 4.0 is for machines on a factory floor to be connected, able to communicate with each other. Maintenance can take place before breakdowns occur as data are exchanged again and again. Output is maximized, downtime minimized.
Makers of presetting systems already were dealing with this basic concept. The systems keep track of available tooling as well as measure and inspect tools. This enables factories to maintain production. Now, presetters act as a building block of Industry 4.0.
“Tool presetters are already an important component of Industry 4.0 and will evolve with it in tandem,” said Roland Bruhn, a technical services and product manager at Haimer USA LLC (Villa Park, IL).
“Presetters can be connected with each other and any machine tool on the shop floor,” he said. “They can send, as well as receive, data. As the entire manufacturing environment is becoming more and more streamlined and the interconnectivity of machines and computer systems is becoming more commonplace, it is increasingly difficult to imagine a world without it.”
One key to making it work are measurement systems.
“Optical measurement systems are currently the heart of our most modern tool presetting systems and will remain so for a long time to come,” Bruhn said. Such systems “can provide the user with more than just dimensional information of the tool measured. They can perform important tool quality control functions.”
Because optical tool measurement systems are computerized, he said, “they will evolve together with computer system technologies. The use of mobile technology systems like smartphones and tablets has enabled customers to keep track of their measuring process while away from the factory or even while outside the city, state or country.”
Presetters are becoming more integrated with other machines on the factory floor, Bruhn said.
“It is more and more becoming a requirement and has thus become commonplace not just in large manufacturing facilities but also in smaller job shops,” he said. “The data of tools measured on a presetter can be sent directly to the production machine via network connection. In addition, tool data can be transmitted onto a microchip embedded in the toolholder, which can then be identified by a microchip reader inside the magazine of the machine tool.”
At Marposs Corp. (Auburn Hills, MI), the company’s “tool presetters—both contact and noncontact—are all internal solutions, installed on the machine tools, and capable of measuring real time conditions,” said Sharad Mundra, Marposs product manager, Touch Probe Division. This includes “tool identification, tool breakage detection, tool setting, dynamic tool measurement, tool wear compensation, tool cutting profile integrity and thermal drift compensation,” Mundra said in a written statement.
The company’s contact systems, its TS line, “can transmit information via hard-wire or in optical or radio transmission in tandem with a receiver,” Mundra said. “The noncontact solutions include the Mida Laser P and the optical VTS/VTOS solutions [the VTS can be connected externally, but Marposs prefers to gather real-time information from inside the machine].”
According to Mundra, “All the information gathered from the presetter goes right into the CNC, which saves that data as the part is cut. This has been going on for generations via Ethernet capability.”
Systems are changing. “As CNC controls have evolved to become smarter and smaller, they are capable of processing more information more quickly,” Mundra said. “This has enabled toolsetters to become more advanced—e.g., cameras are way smarter than the touch setters and more information can be gathered and shared. With the advent of Ethernet, we were able to get more into tool breakage [monitoring] and tool management.”
Now, he said, “Data goes out from the controller to the cloud or to a secure server for analysis. And once that analysis is done, the data comes back and either raises an alarm or communicates to the machine to make it smarter by saying, ‘Hey CNC, do this the next time this event happens.’”
Zoller Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI) has expanded from presetter systems and now refers to itself as a “one partner solution” for its customers. Zoller offers a line of presetting machines, inspection equipment for cutting tools, software, and data transfer tools.
“Lean [manufacturing] has many pillars. Tool management is one of them,” Andy Lombardi, TMS Tool Management Solutions product specialist at Zoller, said during a company presentation in March.
Zoller, he said, wants operators to have confidence that, “We’re all looking at the same information.”
Zoller systems work from its z.One central database. “One database, communications with everything,” said Gregg Bigleman, TMS Tool Management Solutions manager. According to the company, there is no manual input of data and no multiple data storage. A presetter checks tools against their designs.
Presetters also help communication within a plant, one of the main goals of Industry 4.0.
“Everybody works in their own little silos,” Bigleman said. “There was so much missed communication in their loop.” A plantwide communications strategy helps remedy this situation. Bigleman likens it to one orchestra playing from the same sheet of music.
Matt Brothers, Zoller Industry 4.0 tech center manager, said the company’s Venturion presetter and measurement system model have screens with icons. The screen is “more shop-floor friendly,” he said. It has also been designed to be more ergonomic for operators, he said.
He agreed that accurate measurement with “more consistency” is important to making presetters work. “Replicating the same process is key,” Brothers said.
BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc. (Hoffman Estates, IL) is a partner with Speroni, a family-owned Italian company. BIG Kaiser distributes the Speroni Futura presetter in North America.
“In the initial phase of presetters, you had had a lot of screens,” Robert Burns, an assistant product manager for BIG Kaiser, said during an interview at the Eastec show in West Springfield, MA, in May. “We have been slowly able to streamline.”
BIG Kaiser displayed an STP Futura at Eastec. The machine has a large display screen, with a key pad that can be adjusted for different heights. The screen can display a more detailed display image of a tool, simulating a three-dimensional feel.
“This used to be a rather cumbersome process,” Burns said of presetting and measurement. Now, he said, systems are more automated.
Qualifying the ‘Entire Tool’
“This qualifies the entire tool, not just a couple of data points,” Burns said of the Futura. “A lot of what used to be manual input is now automated.” For example, he said, the system can switch between metric and English measurements quickly. “You remove the calculator from the operator.”
The interior of the machine uses Dell computers. According to BIG Kaiser, the software is the key to making the system work.
“This is not a proprietary computer,” Burns said. “You can upgrade it at any time. We’re able to replace PCs easier than any other of our competitors.” Customers, he said, can use “tomorrow’s software on yesterday’s machine.”
Now, he said, presetters “become a quality and inspection tool. It ensures tool setup is done correctly…You can take the data and assess everything.”
With the information provided, Burns said, “You can better forecast expenses.” Also, he said, “If I had to back track” to find a quality problem, “I can do that.”
Because of all this, presetters are emerging as part of Industry 4.0 strategies.
“Tool presetting is a fundamental component of manufacturing, both now and in the future as shops pursue Industry 4.0,” said Haimer’s Bruhn. “In the era of Big Data and increased automation, the benefits of time savings and process reliability are innumerable.”