MoldMaking Technology

SEP 2018

Advertising in MoldMaking Technology offers

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 16 of 67 15 When we talk about automation, we talk about efficiency in every process step. This is the big challenge that the moldmaker is fac- ing—the shifting of his production paradigm. Andre Ey, vice president of Die Mold Technologies at Makino (Auburn Hills, Michigan), says that his customers are implementing automation with various levels of complexity to increase the use of their machinery and the overall throughput of their companies. "The challenge lies in truly identifying their total process streams to efficiently automate," he says. Michael Cope, product technical specialist for Hurco Companies Inc. (Indianapolis, Indiana), says he believes more shops are moving toward automation simply to use more hours in the day. "It is becoming increasingly important, especially in moldmaking where runtimes can be extensive," he says. "With the usefulness of today's automation choices, like pick-and-place units, shops can set up a list of jobs that will run lights-out and will capitalize on those hours that are otherwise lost." Tom Houle, director of Lumex N.A. at Matsuura Machinery USA Inc. (St. Paul, Minnesota), concurs, adding that yet another reason for automating is the skills gap. "We hear from mold- makers across the country that the biggest challenge they face is the lack of skilled labor. This issue is driving them to automate their machining processes using pallet pools and high-capacity tool changers to achieve true, lights-out manufacturing." Anthony Fettig, CEO at Unisig (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin), says that in addition to external, part-handling automation, it is exciting to see further achievements in the way of internal automation like probing for tools and work- pieces and closer connections between CAM, CAD and ERP systems to eliminate lost time and extract full capacity from an asset. "Maximizing internal automation is something that can be done without increasing a machine's footprint or reshaping an entire plant," he says. "Upgrading to a higher-technology machine with some of these features can make a dramatic change to throughput." Fettig adds that it can be challeng- ing for moldmakers to have so many choices of new products designed to increase productivity, especially when they are coming from numerous suppliers. "All of this technology needs to be pulled together, and the ultimate goal is full integration with a company's information technology systems to help achieve goals that span many different areas of the business." Machine Monitoring Connectivity is also critical today, machine-tool suppliers say. Many moldmakers install devices to track the activity of the molds that they build, but now data is being collected from all corners of the shop to drive efficiencies. "Digitalization of manual processes is the biggest shift we have seen in recent years. Companies are learning the value of collecting and analyzing reports coming directly from the machine itself," Max Preston, director of sales and marketing at Smart Attend Inc. (Aurora, Ontario, Canada) says. "Shops are capturing more machining parameters and logging more information than ever before. Operators and managers use this information for more accurate quoting, live part-quality management, tighter lead times and deliverables and for build- ing more accurate capacity studies." Gisbert Ledvon, TNC business development manager for Heidenhain Corp. (Schaumburg, Illinois), says that moldmak- ers are increasingly getting involved in networking and moni- toring their machining centers to determine where the bottle- necks are when mold production is delayed. "Many mold shops implement custom solutions," he says. "We at Heidenhain see the importance of collecting machine data, but we do not want to collect just raw data. We also enable the operator to feed information into the system with a push of a button using pre- defined problems." Ledvon says that problems can include not having a sister tool, or having a CNC program that needs edit- ing and so on. This way, the manager or supervisor gets the real picture of why the mold insert was not completed on time. "We provide key data and graphs that are really easy to understand and that can be downloaded into an Excel file for future record keeping or analytics. It is a really reli- able, plug-and-play solution, specifically for shops that just want to get started analyzing their efficiency without hiring a data analyst who does not build molds," he says. Unisig's Fettig sees custom- ers using 3D-laser and electronic-ball bar inspections, which are performed at machine-tool installations to "fingerprint" accuracy and use it as a benchmark for future alignment ser- vices or in the event of a machine collision. He also says that connectivity between machines makes them easier to monitor and program from a centralized location, plus it lets the origi- nal equipment manufacturer access customers' machines for diagnostics and updates. Makino's Andre Ey agrees that machines are getting smarter and more connected. "Sensor technology and predictive algo- rithms can inform customers in a preventive way about the machine's status, potential downtime and service needs," he says. This advanced connectivity also enables more efficient scheduling of parts delivery and trouble shooting in real time using digital tools. Better Controls and Motion-Control Systems With newer, smarter machines comes the need for controls that are powerful enough to capitalize on the advanced machining capabilities. For example, Michael Cope of Hurco Companies Inc. says that more shops are adopting the high-feed tooling as a choice for cutting, which challenges machine-tool builders to create controls and motion-control

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of MoldMaking Technology - SEP 2018