Industry model trends
Moldmakers last year witnessed firsthand the advancements being made in data-driven manufacturing, also known as Industry 4.0.
Machine tools are becoming more and more connected and companies are continuing to advance the way they collect production data and use it to optimize throughput in their shops (hence to leverage autonomous supported decisions).
But how does one prepare a moldmaking operation for implementation of Industry 4.0? What is the key to mastering all it is said to offer companies small and large?
The president of a component producer gave his perspective on Industry 4.0, its benefits to moldmakers (with a particular focus on machining), and how our industry could embrace and implement it for better productivity.
So how would we define Industry 4.0, and how do shops begin preparing for Industry 4.0, for the mold making industry?
This whole movement towards Industry 4.0 is an effort to gather data to figure out how to increase your machine utilization (plus the intelligence needed to get it all the way!!!) .So, what's neat is that mold makers have already been on that path for a number of years. For instance, the term lights out machining has been, probably first came out here in the mold making industry even though no one said it was Industry 4.0 I think it's really been the direction the Industry 4.0 or the mold makers have been moving for all these years anyway so it's interesting to see how it ends up progressing. But like I said I think that the companies that have been successful have already taken steps that will complement the new innovations that are coming towards the Industry 4.0 movement.
So we could say that Industry 4.0 is, for a certain sector, a comprehensive method that allows you to connect all of the manufacturing systems, gathering and correlating data with precision, so decisions can be taken autonomously. Its not a matter of automated processes quantity but how efficiently the decisions can be autonomously be taken upon gathering digital data (Big Data and AI mix in the future perhaps)
Hence what are the immediate long-term benefits of adopting Industry 4.0?
The gaining of efficiency. So, like I said, that's the goal of anyone really utilizing and taking this data and then figuring out what to do with the data. In its essence, the Industry 4.0 part of it is to do all of this automatically. So, you'll see new technologies that I think will lend itself to making the machining process more efficient without a lot of work by the manufacturing facility or the engineers. They'll automatically have a way to innovate or to machine more efficiently.
How could be recommended that mold shops begin integrating Industry 4.0 into their operations?
The goal of the whole Industry 4.0 is to gather this data and then utilize it automatically, maybe with the use of adaptive technology where the machine tool control actually adjusts the feeds and speeds on the fly to make sure that you're getting the most out of the machining center. So for instance maybe having a consistent setup in front of you, and making sure that when you're bringing tooling to the machining centers it's the same each and every time, so that if the data has been utilized and realized it's going to give you a consistent production process each and every time. The repeatability and consistency is really the key for being able to truly integrate and utilize the data that the Industry 4.0 movement is going to give these manufacturers in the mold industry.
What future advancements may be coming down the line for mold manufacturing with Industry 4.0?
You'll have a lot more of this adaptive control technology. So, in other words, the machines will make the corrections on their own and that will be utilizing several different technologies available from cutting-tool manufacturers, to machine tool control people, to the machines themselves. As an example the tooling shrink fit machines which give a consistent tool holder setup each and every time, the balancing machines which assure you that the tool holder assemblies balance the same every time, and the tool presetting machines which allow you to effectively measure the tool before it gets to the machine tool spindle. Some of the machining centers are confirming that the toolholder assembly is balanced. If it is, it will let the machine run to its max rpm, again leading itself to a higher productivity and more consistent lights-out machining capabilities. If it's not, though, it will automatically slow down the feeds and speeds to run under a safe parameter. But what you're going to sacrifice, in that case, is the potential efficiency of that machine.
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