Digital Factory & Process Industries and DrivesDigital Factory & Process Industries and Drives

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29 January 2016


Mark Coombes, Account Manager – Motion Control Solutions at Siemens UK & Ireland, discusses how SME manufacturers can now access the operational efficiency benefits of digitalisation thanks to Siemens smartOperate operating modes with touch technology. Benefits include improved efficiency, better visualisation, increased productivity and paperless production capabilities.

Digitalisation in the minds of many is perceived to involve large-scale IT infrastructures and the networking of extensive production facilities.  Such perceptions can preclude the SME market and its more shopfloor orientated business from considering the benefits that digitalisation can bring, mistakenly believing that the resources and investment required takes it out of their league.  
However, it has never been easier to integrate a machine tool into a production process and the adoption of the Siemens’ smartOperate can enable SMEs to benefit from modern modes of operation in production with minimal effort.

Simple and efficient machine operation

The concept begins with the machine.  Whether milling, turning or complete machining in either large or small batches, smartOperate provides the operator with new functionality from Sinumerik. In conjunction with Sinumerik 840D sl, for example, the new OP 015 black and OP 019 black operator panels with multi-touch and gesture technology can be used to make operating the control system even more efficient.  
The user can zoom, rotate or move the workpiece across the screen during the simulation using gesture control and then check it from all angles before using the NC programme.  smartOperate also offers improved editor functions in Sinumerik Operate.  Due to the colour display of the programme commands, the user can see at a glance whether a rapid traverse or feed rate was programmed.  In addition, the font size on the screen can be made larger or smaller, allowing for a more detailed presentation.  The cycle view is equally convenient as a work step as it presents cycles in programGUIDE in exactly the same manner as in ShopTurn or ShopMill.

Total visual control
Thanks to smartMobile, the operator has constant oversight of the production process, even when away from the machine.  This enables the operator to access Sinumerik 840D sl and 828D from any terminal equipment and standard web browser.  Important information such as the operating state, pending alarms, utilisation and tool information can be displayed at a glance on any tablet, PC or smartphone, enabling rapid intervention in the event of disruption to production.  Additionally, smartMobile provides executable templates that allow the user to access a great deal of relevant information.  Such best practice templates have been developed and designed in collaboration with users.

Increased productivity
Achieving ever-higher levels of productivity is becoming critically important in the machine shop sector.  With smartPrepare, the next workpiece can be programmed even while the machine is still in use.  While the machine is in the process of producing one job, the machine operator can use a SinuTrain station to quickly and easily prepare the next part.  With its original Sinumerik CNC kernel, SinuTrain behaves identically on a PC to the Sinumerik CNC and is therefore ideal not only for professional training, but also for reliable offline programming.

Paperless production
The only question that remains is how to get the generated data onto the machine, for example if a USB or another storage medium is used together with a paper printout.  It can now be achieved more easily and reliably.  SmartIT can take all the order documentation such as parts programs, DXF drawings and images and make it available on the control panel via the network connection.  This means there is no longer a requirement to search for documents.  With the EES (Execution from External Storage) function in Sinumerik Operate, any media outside Sinumerik can be accessed in order to display these order documents on Sinumerik or to process them directly.  The size and quantity of parts, programmes and production data are therefore no longer limited by Sinumerik’s internal memory; they are virtually unlimited thanks to the use of external memory.

Another important feature for paperless production is the new DXF reader option.  If the contour or the positions for drilling patterns no longer need to be programmed entirely on the CNC, and if the data can instead be transferred thanks to the CAD reader, this saves up to 90% of the programming time.  DXF files can be opened directly on the CNC and transferred into the CNC programme at the click of a mouse.

Paul Addison