When TYROLIT’s ToolScope system made its public debut at the Grindtec fair in March, the company had the advantage of the assistance system having already been launched on the market as an Industry 4.0 solution for machining with defined cutting edges. The system was originally developed by the Brinkhaus start-up. In 2012, Brinkhaus was integrated into Komet Group, which was acquired by Ceratizit this year. This partnership has made it possible to monitor all machining processes and prepare individual assistance strategies. TYROLIT’s system is one of the ToolScope variants that were developed for grinding. Much of it resembles the assistance systems that Ceratizit has maintained for turning, drilling and milling. Nevertheless, many requirements fundamentally differently from each other, given that grinding tools behave differently in use.
Dr. Markus Weiss, Head of Abrasive Technology at TYROLIT, explains the significance of ToolScope being run in over 1,000 manufacturing plants: ‘The underlying structure for the operation of our system does not differ from one to the next, and so many operators are now familiar with this assistance system. The teething troubles that occur mainly in new software have been resolved and we are able to concentrate fully on the abrasive technology.’ The assistance system also fits well with the corporate philosophy of the Tyrol-based family-owned company, which is also a member of the Swarovski Group: TYROLIT is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of grinding and dressing tools. The company’s portfolio also includes a number of special products that leverage its strengths but often draw on the process experience of its application engineers.
Buffers to be redundant
ToolScope provides further enhancement of the machine after the experienced application engineer has set up a process and completed the operational start-up on site. The system collects information and has the capability to respond to fluctuations and optimise machines, process flows and tool use. With continuous monitoring, many safety buffers will become redundant, as ToolScope takes care of the necessary process transparency.
As explained by Markus Weiss, the goal is not to create a fully autonomous grinding process, but to achieve a changeover from manual data analysis to an ‘assistant’ for process managers in a first step on the road to Industry 4.0. The system processes the data to enable the operator to start out with the aid of additional information and to assist the operator in optimising the process, enhancing its design or in monitoring. ‘In the medium-term, there is no substitute for people who have an instinctive feel for grinding,’ says TYROLIT’s Abrasive Technology department. ‘However, we can support them in their job. The aim is to have informed users who make decisions based on facts.’
ToolScope analyses the data that already exists in the machine. ‘Everything that a machine requires for control can be used to set up a monitoring strategy,’ explains Weiss. The core element of ToolScope is a single hardware item: a rail module built into the machine and connected by PLC to the machine via the profibus. The engineers in Schwaz simply refer to this ToolScope hardware unit as ‘the little box’. The actual know-how of the system is contained in the software. Twelve apps monitor the machine and the process, perform various help functions and analyse data.
The logged values are saved for further analysis as required by the user, whether on the local device, in an existing ERP system, on the corporate network or in the Cloud. The user is also able to choose how the data is visualised: on the machine display, an external monitor or a tablet, or on a PC in the planning office.
Practical tests in the Tech Centre
TYROLIT provides practical demonstrations in the Technology Centre at the company headquarters in Schwaz. Here, TYROLIT has installed and tested the system on a machine produced by GST, an Austrian manufacturer, and a round grinding machine made by Emag. The latter company specialises in cylindrical machining, out-of-round machining, transmission shafts and camshafts. As such, it covers a major part of the spectrum of machining work required by customers. To be able to operate at a maximum speed range of about 200 metres per minute, TYROLIT has opted for a bench instead of the cylindrical grinding option preferred by the machine manufacturer. This, for example, enables insightful tests to be conducted for the turbine industry demonstrating that when peak power is reached during the process or peak levels of torque occur, it can provide warning of burning in the grinding process.
Tests are also performed on an old Emag cylindrical grinding machine, demonstrating that use of the assistance system is not only relevant for new machines. Here, the processes are simulated on wheel-shaped blanks with specific dimensions. In rare cases, the original customer process is replicated, but with the corresponding machining steps using exactly the same materials as those of the customer. To be able to set the appropriate limits in each case, a considerable volume of material will be machined. Working under constant conditions, the system will collect values for the processes and tools involved.