Machining A Smart Factory with minimal effort

From Mag. Victoria Sonnenberg

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With Kelch's modular concept, companies receive individual support in setting up and expanding their Smart Factory. The so-called Smart Factory Services are tailored to the needs of machining companies and consist of modules that can be combined individually.

With Kelch QR, even small companies can achieve Industry 4.0 standards with a minimal investment of time and money.
With Kelch QR, even small companies can achieve Industry 4.0 standards with a minimal investment of time and money.
(Source: Kelch)

Processes in the manufacturing sector must interlock in a meaningful way so that digitalisation achieves the desired effect in individual areas. For those responsible for production, however, the initial situation is often too complex to be able to decide from the outset which new implementations are suitable for a smart factory. Usually there is a historically grown, heterogeneous machine pool. Tool warehouses are operated without a systematic connection to ERP systems, so that manual inventory management is necessary. This incurs personnel costs and bears an increased risk of errors. Even if CAM systems or tool management systems are used, they are not always networked. The result is data inconsistency and a lack of planning reliability with regard to machines, delivery quantities and delivery dates.

However, many companies are still unaware of the options that digitally optimised production has to offer. A look at Kelch's Smart Factory Services shows the key factors for sensible planning and project development of a Smart Factory - and which consulting and other services are available for this purpose. The building blocks include digitisation, integration, optimisation, procurement, storage and financing. Depending on the requirements, companies can either use individual services or take advantage of the complete range. In addition to analysis, consulting and planning, new solutions from Kelch's wide range of products may also be used during implementation: from tool holders to cleaning, shrinking and adjusting devices to measuring technology and tool logistics. Tools and equipment already in operation can also be integrated. When combined with the tool management software from the supplier My Solutions, companies benefit from the direct integration of the required modules and thus from a uniform data structure and user interface.

Analysing the initial situation

The first step on the road to a smart factory is to take a close look at the initial situation. For this purpose, a Kelch consultant analyses the current situation together with both production management and senior management. The entire process from order entry to programme creation and planning to implementation is considered. Important questions might include, for example:

  • How is a sales order scheduled into production?
  • How is data from the production order passed on to CAx planning? How does the generated information (NC programme, tool requirements list, required clamping devices, measuring equipment, etc.) reach the subsequent departments?
  • How is tool output organised and prioritised?
  • How is tool life management organised?
  • Who organises tool supply to the machines?
  • What data is generated in the production process and how is it documented?

Preparation and planning

Once the initial scenario has been recorded in detail, the current state is compared with the desired target state. On this basis, it is possible to work out which measures are necessary for implementation. This is followed by careful planning of the system integration and process implementation. This involves working out which tools are needed to get from the current to the target state and defining exactly which results are to be achieved - for example, by optimising or expanding individual departments.

Concrete questions in this context are, for example: Is production sufficient? Is work planning / work preparation needed? Does IT need to be involved? What about the CAD/CAM department? Based on this, the desired digitalisation of processes and data can be planned in detail.

Then, in the Tool Services section, the focus is on the concrete implementation. This includes the procurement and storage of tools and devices, tool assembly and tool setting, optimisation following the PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) approach, data maintenance as well as technical support and maintenance service.

Lower costs — higher throughputs

Overall, the process optimisations achieved via Smart Factory Services result in lower costs, higher throughputs and increased competitiveness. When Kelch tool setting devices and precision tools are used simultaneously with the tool management software from My Solutions, the core competencies of the cooperation partners are already clearly regulated. With the software, all required operating resources and insert tools can be managed digitally and thus also offer a reliable basis for the planning of use in lean production.

With the introduction of tool management software, companies gain direct process reliability from the first use - including logistical and technical applications. The MyXPert database modules can be expanded and integrated as a framework depending on the type of use. Existing processes are optimised and not redesigned. Thus, according to the experience of My Solutions, depending on the expansion stage and with agile project design, an ROI is realistic after 12 to 15 months. The time required for implementation of Smart Factory Services usually takes about 12 to 18 months from the start of planning, through implementation, to a smoothly running and optimised state.

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