Increasing the efficiency of standard machine tools

Innovation project: Extreme Fast Automation

In light of increasing competitiveness and scarcer resources, the requirements placed on the productivity, reliability and efficiency of machine tools – e.g. assembly and manufacturing systems for the furniture industry – are also rising. In order to increase them, process parameters such as the tool position or rotational speed must be adjusted extremely precisely and synchronized in real-time. Up until now, automation technology was only able to guarantee these functions for small applications. This has not been possible for complex machinery and systems due to machine control systems having insufficient computing capacity to be able to process the required volume of data. Condition monitoring and self-optimization methods could not be integrated into existing automation technology until now. This has led to downtime, manual readjustments and waste.

The aim of the innovation project is to develop hardware and software solutions that can bring about intelligent, powerful control systems for machine tools. Increasing the computing capacity should make it possible to ensure that process parameters can be set more quickly and precisely. Moreover, methods and tools will be developed to enable the solutions to be easily integrated into different machine tools.

The first step is to determine the requirements for setting the process parameters and the computing capacity necessary for handling the process data. This basis is used to devise hardware solutions, such as microprocessors to increase computing capacity. Innovative software solutions, e.g. for high-precision synchronization of process data and times, should make it possible to set process parameters in real-time. This is built on by devising intelligent control systems to guarantee that the software is distributed to the microprocessors and that the process parameters are automatically adjusted. A further step is to develop tools which allow the solutions to be implemented into processing machines easily and without extensive programming. The project draws on the results of cross-sectional projects in intelligent networking, energy efficiency and systems engineering. The approaches developed will be validated by means of demonstration models and, after the end of the project, will be deployed in assembly and manufacturing systems as well as profile tooling machinery at the companies involved.

The productivity, reliability and efficiency of the machine tools will increase as a result of the project, without any increase in automation costs. Downtime, manual readjustments and waste will be reduced. It is expected that there will be a 10% increase in productivity and a 10% reduction in energy consumption. The tools developed ensure easy implementation in both new and existing machinery and systems. This approach can be transferred to other applications.

Project duration
01 July 2014 - 30 June 2017