Automation in Machine Tools
India a leading manufacturer of machine tools, ranked 17th in production and 12th in the consumption of machine tools in the world (source IBEF). The country is all geared up to establish a firm foothold in the global machine tools industry and is likely to see substantial high-end machine tool manufacturing. With the current trend of ‘Make in India’ giving the much-needed push to the manufacturing sector, the country is on its way to become a major manufacturing giant. The machine tools users in the industry are now moving towards increasingly sophisticated computerized numerical control (CNC) machines imbibing the latest technology.
The growing demands and transition of technology in segments such as Automobiles, Aerospace, Power and Medical, etc., have ensured an improvement in performance and productivity. With the current scenario of supply and demand, investment in this sector is said to guarantee a sustainably higher ROI in the long run. Machine tool manufacturers hence need to step up their game in order to fully exploit these opportunities.
As a first step towards this advancement, CNCs are being utilized to their maximum to achieve the best quality and finish of the product in the shortest possible time. When the right manufacturing software is matched with the latest CNC controllers and machine tools, it allows the user to implement a process chain that delivers maximum performance for their business. This significantly reduces the chances of errors as well as the general downtime of the machine, minimizing the need of manual labour and production. Siemens has been a major player and an established leader in the automation and machine tool market for well over 50 years with its wide range of SINUMERIK CNC controllers. Our combination of software and manufacturing equipment expertise enables us to develop part manufacturing solutions that provide our users with unique and powerful advantages.
Robots lead the way
Today, manufacturing companies are searching for even leaner solutions and they have found alternatives in the vast arena of Robotics. An industrial robot has come into existence and its use is expanding into a wide range of applications.
While the human body experiences fatigue, a robot is capable of performing repetitive tasks with the highest amount of accuracy. This not only eliminates errors, but also ensures higher productivity. Higher productivity equals higher profits. Industrial robots are credited for faster production as opposed to traditionally existing manufacturing methods, by decreasing the cycle times.
The very essence of the robot is its ability to create a leaner and more efficient manufacturing cycle.
Industrial robots can be used for diverse operations including robotic handling applications like machine tending, plastic moulding etc. In the automotive industry, these robots are mostly used on machining lines. In a machining line or cell, the robots are typically used for loading/unloading operations. Robots are electrically interfaced to the machine tool controller via typical hard-wired information exchange, or using industrial communication bus protocols, the most widely used being PROFINET & PROFIBUS.
Gantry type robots are controlled by a general motion controller, whereas the articulated arm robots require a special motion controller that can handle non-Cartesian motion. This creates another seamless opportunity for integrating the two controllers, the CNC controller and the robot controller. Grasping this exact opportunity, Siemens introduced SINUMERIK Integrate Run MyRobot – A flexible solution that allows the robot to be operated from the same user interface as that of the CNC machine. This technology package facilitates high-speed workpiece and tool handling. Diagnostics, retraction and operation can all be executed from the CNC operator panel.
The robot can be easily operated from the SINUMERIK Operate interface resulting in simple production automation and minimizing the loading and unloading time.
The technology from Siemens does not just end with the controllers as the Company realises the manufacturing sector’s need for software to guide and take the complete manufacturing process to fruition. The Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) software from Siemens works collaboratively with companies to deliver open solutions that help them turn ideas into successful products.
The combination of software and manufacturing equipment expertise provided by Siemens products support a CAD-CAM-CNC process chain that maximizes the value for customers using latest machine tool investments. It provides a complete package for its users in the manufacturing industry with its versatile range of CNC controllers, ability to integrate with Robotics and its wide variety of software solutions.
Of these, NX provides a complete set of NC programming capabilities in a single CAM system as well as an integrated set of manufacturing software applications. These applications facilitate part modeling, tool design and inspection programming – all based on proven NX technology. NX CAM delivers differences through key capabilities such as its advanced programming, postprocessing and simulation functionality. It provides advanced programming to match the powerful capabilities of SINUMERIK controllers. NX combines both automatic and user-selected options to ensure that the postprocessor provides optimized output for SINUMERIK controllers in areas such as high-speed cutting and 5-Axis machining. It imparts advanced CAD tools that can be used by the NC programmer for everything from modeling new parts to creating setup drawings directly from 3D model data. Multiple-axis machining in NX enables users to produce precision complex parts with fewer operations and setups – reducing cost and delivery times.
The Indian machine tools sector offers several opportunities for investment. Players who look to succeed in the sector in the long term, need to focus on key success factors, such as, developing capacity and scale, design capability, acquiring the latest technology etc and therefore Automation & Digitalization will play a key role for its success in the manufacturing sector.
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