Software/Hardware Process monitoring adds value to automated production

Editor: Eric Culp

A sensitive system that monitors machine tool performance and tool condition is equipped to visualise, monitor, optimise and document.

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The Brinkhaus system detects not only tool breakage but also considerably smaller process deviations.
The Brinkhaus system detects not only tool breakage but also considerably smaller process deviations.
(Source: Brinkhaus)

The growing use of automation in industry is increasing the demand for process and machine-tool monitoring. In response to this trend, Brinkhaus GmbH has developed the modular ToolScope process monitoring system using the latest technology in this field. A special patented method for statistical process control (SPC) detects not only tool breakage but also considerably smaller process deviations.

The system is able to monitor the manufacturing process while the machine tool is running. It can be used to monitor not only the standard machining processes of milling, turning and drilling, but also such procedures as broaching, grinding and punching.

The ToolScope system is designed to be user-friendly and offers simple, safe application in a variety of production areas. It includes as essential elements a storage oscilloscope, a data logger and automatic documentation for machine tools. Integration into the numerical control unit is a simple matter. Signal acquisition is directly through the NC; no external sensors are necessary, although additional sensors may be integrated into the system.

The monitoring system teaches itself

Monitoring tool breakage and wear, the system includes a self-learning algorithm with tolerance bands to recognise the former. Special breakage detection algorithms are designed for monitoring small production batches. In monitoring wear, the operator can set signal limits in order to be sure of being warned in time about tools identified as worn.

Via an oscilloscope function, each process can be visualised in-line easily and continuously. This provides support for setup procedures through, for example, instant detection of chip blocking. Each process is automatically data-logged on the main computer board.

The in-line SPC option is a monitoring algorithm that can detect such minimal process deviations as wear, larger cavities and change in material under consistent processing conditions—effectively, quality control during machine operation. Adaptive control is another optional function. This optimises the feed so that the effective power of the tool remains as steady as possible. Adaptive control can be utilised in parallel with the process monitoring functions.

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Offering condition monitoring for the machine tool, ToolScope checks vibration effects and wear on machine bearings, axes and spindles.

The process monitoring system is operated via the human–machine interface of the machine tool’s control unit or through a touch screen. It can be maintained remotely or via the facility network. The system offers a variety of input-signal filtering functions, such as average value, effective value, root mean square, variable and so on.

Expected benefits of implementing ToolScope would be higher productivity, process safety and machine availability. The constant monitoring of cutting processes can lead to a reduction in the volume of scrap parts, the incidence of secondary damage and the need for tool reconditioning.

Brinkhaus GmbH

Garbsen, Germany

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