Traditional manufacturing and industrial practices are becoming increasingly influenced by modern technology.
The phenomenon has widely become known as the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 – a new approach to production where technological advancements, analysis, and data transfer are helping to deliver results that were simply not possible just a few years ago.
At the heart of Industry 4.0 is the simple concept of digitisation. The smart factories of the future will achieve a level of interconnectivity, automation, and self-monitoring that has never been reached before. Machines have the ability to analyse and communicate with both each other and their human co-workers to create smoother processes and more productive environments.
Employees are freed up for other tasks thanks to the implementation of smooth and error-free operations, ultimately helping to deliver better outcomes for customers.
Most critically for companies seeking to manufacture high-quality products will be secure data transfer between all the systems involved in the production process. That’s not always an easy task – getting it wrong can lead to scrap products or expensive machine crashes.
However, with more than 70 years of innovation under its belt, ZOLLER has a portfolio of tool presetting, measurement, and management technologies that are already delivering major connectivity benefits.
As the only company in the UK dedicated exclusively to tool presetting solutions, ZOLLER UK’s expertise lies in working with companies of all sizes across a multitude of industries.
Irrespective of the CNC machine control system that a business is using (and no two are the same), ZOLLER’s tool presetters and inspection systems interface with them all and make transferring tool data automatically, reliably, and securely a straightforward process, uniting existing assets and increasing efficiency.
Balluff – one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sensor technology for industrial automation – co-operates with ZOLLER in the field of tool data transfer via tool coding and tool identification using industrial RFID.
Data transfer by means of an RFID chip is simple: the RFID chip is written with its actual data by a tool identification unit on the tool presetter and measuring machine and can be scanned automatically by the machine tool.
Securing tool data is convenient and reliable, as it is stored without contact on a data carrier embedded directly into the tool holder. That means no more manual entry errors – the tool data is permanently and uniquely associated with the tool.
Data Output via Post Processors
At the touch of a button, the measured data of an individual or list of tools (setting sheet) can be prepared on a ZOLLER tool machine via a Post Processor for the relevant controller on the CNC machine, before being transmitted via a data transfer process.
ZOLLER Post Processors convert all desired tool parameters into a control-specific format. Via the format generator, and depending on the machine controller, different formats can be defined by the customer – for example the output of a dimensional unit, the formatting of output cells, or the required controller commands can be defined individually on the relevant machine controller.
The ZOLLER format generator already has a library containing more than 300 different output formats.
An ideal way to start building a smart factory, ZOLLER’s zidCode is a simple, fast, and user-friendly identification code system.
It requires neither a network connection nor any software installed on the machine controller, and can be easily added to turning machines, milling machines, and processing centres. The only stipulation is a USB connection on the keypad of the machine controller.
With zidCode, once tools have been measured on a ZOLLER machine, the data is printed in QR code form and scanned with a reader, automatically transferring to the control of the CNC machine and eliminating any errors associated with manual data entry.
ZOLLER offers the option of printing data matrix code labels as a long-life alternative to laser engraving on tool holders. These labels offer high abrasion resistance – perfect for hostile manufacturing conditions – and can only be removed with acetone.
Tools are identified by reading the data matrix code using a scanner. The tool assembly assistant or the tool marker in the ZOLLER tool management solutions inventory module can be used to assign inventory numbers.
Tool data is saved to the inventory number in the database.
Measuring data from tools has to reach the corresponding CNC machine reliably, and each system has to work on a uniform, transparent data basis.
Advanced pilot measuring device software offers numerous connection possibilities to tool management systems, to processing centres using DNC interfaces and to production management systems.
The ZOLLER/Mazak-CPC and ZOLLER/Mazak SPS (Smooth TM) interfaces are two examples.
The interface between ZOLLER tool management solutions and the Fastems manufacturing management system (MMS) controller is used to review remaining tool service life at regular intervals.
Once centrally installed and configured, the interface regularly reviews the tool data in the z.One central tool database for changes, prepares it for each specific machine, and provides the information to the Fastems MMS.
The Fastems MMS controller then informs the interface regarding all changes to remaining tool service life, saving the information in a central tool database.