The advantages of embedded connectivity and increased productivity in Sandvik Coromant’s new driven tool holder represent one more step into the realms of digital machining and Industry 4.0.
One of the biggest problems when operating a metal workshop with a turning centre with driven tools is knowing when it is time for maintenance on the driven tool holder itself.
“Up until now, this all-important decision was mostly a gut feeling on the part of an operator or a production manager who would manually assess the moving parts and declare a time-out for service,” says Bo Hammarberg, global product manager, Machine Integration, Turning Centres/Multi-Task, at Sandvik Coromant’s headquarters in Sandviken, Sweden.
“A more likely scenario, however, is one in which the turning centre is overutilized without a planned maintenance break and then something more drastic happens, such as a full stop in production,” he continues. “As everyone knows but has a hard time admitting, such unplanned stops and failures have a catastrophic effect on the bottom line involving weeks of downtime to repair the problem that could have been avoided in the first place.”
Sandvik Coromant has a solution, however – one that also addresses the more macro trend of customers seeking to perform tool changes more quickly in order to more quickly manufacture batches of products and reap their return on investment.
Recently industrialized after two years of development work and copious customer need studies around the world, Sandvik Coromant’s new driven tool holder (DTH) will be officially launched at the EMO Hannover 2019 fair in September. This new DTH promises to solve many of these performance and predictive maintenance problems in turning centres.
A DTH installed on a universal Coromant Capto tool holder in a turning centre is basically a wired-up, Bluetooth-enabled, 15-kilogram cutting tool gearbox that communicates values of drilling and milling on parameters such as r/min, rotation, temperature, vibration and remaining lifetime (hours left until service is needed) and sends them in real time to a tablet for monitoring and saving on a server.
Previous tool holders did not have this ability. Instead, these parameters were analyzed manually, requiring the sharp oversight of a seasoned operator to stop or slow down the machine to assess surfaces, feel vibrations and take manual temperature readings on parts. Miniaturized embedded sensors coupled with Bluetooth communications now do this.
“Another distinct advantage is how shop management in a bigger factory can follow every machine’s performance at a glance to enable unmanned and fail-free operations,” says Hammarberg. “This is the support they need to take the right decision as to when to schedule a planned service stop.”
The new tool, which fits snuggly onto the turret in a turning centre, will be manufactured in Germany. It is expected to pass CE, FCC and Japanese certification soon and will be available for several machine brands and in Coromant Capto sizes C3 through C6, with additional options for high speeds and high torque.
“There was obviously a market need for this,” continues Hammarberg. “What’s new is the Bluetooth communication between the hardware, the DTH and the software to give a real-time status update on the state of the machine.”
He explains that a typical customer for this would be a subcontractor to the automotive industry, for example, who would perform frequent tool and batch changes on a turning machine and would want all the assurances of predictive maintenance.
The DTH isn’t so different from the sensors on automobiles to indicate tyre and oil pressure, for example, or speed and engine temperature, he says.
“Customers have been very excited about this because they can now predict when it is time for maintenance and can thus avoid any uncomfortable and expensive downtime,” says Hammarberg. “Breakdowns are expensive for everyone because they also destroy parts. Our guarantee with DTH is less downtime and more productivity and to run more unmanned hours without any failures.”
In fact, this is the main advantage of what people are calling Industry 4.0, where access to data and analytical tools are creating new business opportunities to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve the management of fluctuations in demand.