CNC Machine Communication, Engineering and Production Processes Development

March 8, 2012
Across every department - from development and purchasing through to production and sales - the ability to integrate machine and production data into company information is becoming increasingly more important as a tool to secure the competitiveness of modern manufacturing companies.
It is only by gaining an overview of the entire production process, right down to the chip level, that today's metalworking operations can achieve the transparency needed to uncover weak spots, eliminate them and develop an effective continual improvement process. This requires the integration of machine tools into corporate processes and is a vital stepping stone towards the achievement of lean production.

Siemens offers extensive products and solutions designed to provide support for the engineering and other processes that include machine tools, which now fit under Sinumerik Integrate. This solution allows machine tool data to be integrated quickly, simply and reliably into other company processes. The IT integration of production processes allows managers, machine operators, part programmers, maintenance engineers and machine tool builders to be inter-connected with each other and integrated into the overall system by means of defined processes. Sinumerik Integrate facilitates this network by concentrating IT-related functions into a single process suite, using six different available modules that cover every aspect of the machine tool integration process.

The "Create-it!" module is used to group solutions for the generation and configuration of user-specific functions in the Sinumerik Operate user interface. The programming of interfaces to machine tools and to company servers also falls within the scope of this module. Extensive function libraries are offered, for example, which facilitate the use of NC, PLC and HMI functions across the entire network. Protecting proprietary technological expertise in the machine tool against unauthorized access is the function of the "Lock-it!" module. Examples here include copy protection or the safe storage of user information with the aid of encrypted cycles.

The "Run-it!" module encompasses the entire runtime system for execution of the individual screen interfaces and of internal compile cycles at the NC kernel. Drive control and also the workflow of the virtual numerical controller kernel (VNCK) are also part of this module. "Manage-it!" is used for the organization and management of NC programs and tools, comprising solutions related to tool, data and program management to enable the fast, overarching availability of production information. The rapid availability of NC programs over the network, central NC program management and storage are also key functions of this module, as is an overview of actual tool data. Added to these features are a transparent tool cycle for the entire production process and the connection of tool identification systems.

The standardized communication interface used throughout the Sinumerik CNC family is made available by the "Access-it!" module, which allows remote accessing for machine diagnostics. This module helps reduce machine downtime, enhances machine availability by allowing fast online access and cuts maintenance costs. It also allows backups to be automatically initiated by the higher-level data backup software overnight, or decentrally-generated information such as local NC programs to be collected automatically. "Access-it" has the additional benefit of reducing standstill periods and preventing data loss in the event of component failure.

The "Analyze-it!" module makes a number of efficient functions for condition-based maintenance and key indicator-based analysis available. The continuous evaluation of information within the production process allows machine run-times to be increased, while condition-oriented maintenance reduces machine downtime and standstill periods. In addition, this module permits users to evaluate key indicators relating to the wear of mechatronic components.

Sinumerik Integrate offers machine tool OEMs an wide variety of possibilities for the machine-specific optimization of Sinumerik CNCs in terms of improved technology, programming and operation. It allows builders to integrate their machines quickly, simply and efficiently into overarching customer production and communication processes. However, machine tool users can also use Siemens Integrate to successfully integrate their machines into complex existing corporate IT systems. Benefits include improved productivity and the availability of machines in addition to an overall reduction in manufacturing costs.

By bringing all the IT-relevant functions of a machine tool CNC together to create a complete process suite, Siemens is providing a way of simplifying the technical and organizational implementation of strategic concepts underlying any innovative production lifecycle management (PLM) process. Machine tools can be commissioned more effectively - and made more productive and easier to customize and optimize over their entire lifecycle within the complete PLM process chain.

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