Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Machine tools become ready for IIoT applications

From Sariana Kunze

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The machine tool industry is suffering from the economic situation. Digital networking offers the greatest leverage in the future. With connectors, machine tools can be made fit for IIoT applications.

Cybus is expanding its IIoT Edge Hub to include connectors for interaction with machine controllers from Siemens Sinumerik and Heidenhain.
Cybus is expanding its IIoT Edge Hub to include connectors for interaction with machine controllers from Siemens Sinumerik and Heidenhain.
(Source: Cybus)

Milling, turning, grinding, nibbling, punching — these are the tasks performed by machine tools, which are at the core of every industrial production process. Because of this central role, machine tool manufacturing is particularly affected by digitalisation. This view is also held by the German Machine Tool Builders' Association (VDW), for which digitisation in the narrower sense already began in the 1960s with the introduction of CNC control. Furthermore, the association advocates uniform interfaces and clarified legal aspects. After all, digitalisation promises faster development of more flexible machines, more reliability, smooth maintenance and a higher degree of automation.

Especially this year, digital networking is gaining weight in the machine tool industry. Companies are suffering from the economic situation. Even before the Corona crisis, for example, the machine tool industry had to accept a 22 % drop in orders in 2019. Now the industry wants to use the time to devote itself to future topics. “Difficult times also offer the opportunity to reinvent oneself,” explains Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, Chairman of the VDW. Digital networking will offer the greatest leverage in the future, he adds.

Connectors for Siemens Sinumerik and Heidenhain

This is where the IIoT company Cybus comes in with its software solutions. The solutions are designed to make machine tools fit for IIoT applications. The Hamburg-based company only expanded its IIoT Edge Hub “Cybus Connectware” in the middle of the year to include connectors for interaction with machine controls from Siemens Sinumerik (models 840Dsl and 828D) and Heidenhain (models TNC 640, iTNC 530 and TNC 426). The Cybus Connectware also offers additional connectors — including for controllers such as Beckhoff Twincat, Siemens Simatic, Mazak or sensor technology from Pfannenberg, Sick or Werma. Common communication standards such as Ethernet/IP, Euromap, ISO-on-TCP, Modbus/TCP, OPC UA and MT Connect are also integrated and enable easy connection to machines and sensors. With the connectors, the centrally controllable database for IIoT applications is expanded to include important data sources. Even data that is only available via proprietary protocols should be usable by means of Cybus’ technologies. According to the provider, integration in the Cybus Connectware eliminates gateway duplications, efforts, risks and costs. IIoT use cases, on the other hand, are to become easier, faster and more independently realisable.

IIoT use cases in machine tools bidirectional

Typical use cases in machine tool manufacturing are bidirectional. For example, spindle speeds can be monitored or current operating states can be read out, but also new or optimised CNC programmes can be uploaded. “The addition of Siemens Sinumerik and Heidenhain controllers to our connectors is an important step, especially for factory operators with CNC machines. On the one hand, the data that accumulates here has great immediate value for production. On the other hand, the partial automation of machine operation increases production quality and efficiency by avoiding errors,” explains Peter Sorowka, CTO at Cybus.

Turning interface problems into a technology-neutral layer

With the IIoT Edge Hub, Cybus wants to increasingly transform the problem of many complex interfaces into a universal, technology-neutral layer. Companies can connect their IT systems and IIoT services to this layer in a standardised way using REST, OPC UA or MQTT.

Connectware can be installed locally on an IPC as well as in the data centre on virtual servers and scaled from small dashboard projects to MES integration to Big Data concepts. With a DIN SPEC 27070-compliant architecture for the secure exchange of industrial data and with a central data governance approach, hyperscalers such as Microsoft Azure as well as rival ecosystems of industrial companies can also be connected in a complementary manner.

* Sariana Kunze, Technical Editor Automation, Vogel Communications Group


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