Integration of Cutting Tools and Industry 4.0 Accelerated Digital Manufacturing Process

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In order to achieve efficient production of workpieces, information exchange across process flows is required. And tool management can play an important role in it, because once there is a lack of tools, production can only be stopped. In order to achieve efficient production of workpieces, information exchange across process flows is required. And tool management can play an important role in it, because once there is a lack of tools, production can only be stopped.

The basic prerequisites for Industry 4.0 are interoperability and communication. Without extensive and smooth information exchange, it is impossible to come up with a technical solution for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In order to achieve efficient production of workpieces, it is necessary to exchange information across process flows: data must be summarized, exchanged, and evaluated. "Big data analysis" is one of the popular phrases.

In the processing industry, the greatest optimization potential has always been hidden in the process flow - in terms of energy, economy, and time. In order to improve production efficiency, various focus points can be considered. During the design phase, production efficiency can be improved by improving incoming data such as tools and materials. During the job preparation phase, process management software can be used to reduce downtime of production equipment. Once the production process is optimized, energy demand will also decrease accordingly. This is because the device will be turned off or enter sleep mode during the idle phase. The data collected by enterprises also contains untapped potential. Although enterprises have preserved various types of data, they have not analyzed the data in terms of potential for improving efficiency.

Efficient production processes can be achieved by using the correct tool management system

Assistance through software

Theoretically, the optimization potential in production can be quickly identified. More difficult is how to utilize the potential throughout the product's service life in practical work. In particular, small and medium-sized enterprises will face many difficulties because in their view, only specific technical solutions and measurable value-added are the most important. In addition, existing public facilities should be utilized and gradually improved; At the same time, the production process is automated, and the production capacity is improved, thereby achieving the goal of energy conservation and cost reduction. In this regard, various software programs can provide assistance.

Software can play an important role in machining. It can be integrated into the entire production process, from issuing production tasks, workpiece design, simulation, to product production and delivery. Value creation can only be achieved by considering all processes and data. In this category, there is also data on operating equipment during production, such as cutting tools, inspection devices, and tools.

Inner connection of tools

In order to achieve efficient production of workpieces, it is necessary to implement cross process information exchange from the beginning. This work has been started since the customer accepted the order: at that time, the type and quantity of products, as well as the delivery period and purpose were specified. Nowadays, it is often necessary to transfer the order requirements to the PLM/CAD system so that designers can begin their design work. In order to plan the processing scale efficiently, it is necessary to start selecting production tools at this work step. Many famous tool manufacturers (such as Walter Company, etc.) can provide 3D models and important technical parameters of their tool products, so that designers can well design the subsequent processing of the workpiece. At this time node, it is also necessary to review the stock of required tools, such as the stock on machine tools or inventory. In the NC programming process, it is necessary to incorporate corresponding tools for various materials and simulate the machining process. Then start production.

The software required for the machine tool comes from multiple different manufacturers. Among them, TDM Systems, a subsidiary of Sandvik Group, is a supplier of Tool Data Management (TDM/Tool Data Management) for the cutting field. The system collects production data and tool data and transmits them to the production system. In addition, interfaces connecting various online platforms are also open.

Mapal's Uniset C

With the help of different tool management technology solutions, tool data can also be provided to the adjustment device for use. The figure shows Mapal's Uniset C

Management of tool life

By adopting TLM (Tool Lifecycle Management), TDM systems can focus on optimizing production processes and equipment. The software can cover all stages of tool organization, including design and production. As a link between ERP, PLM, and MES systems, software can collect tool data and graphics and provide such data during CAM and simulation processes. At the same time, the software also undertakes the organization of tool recycling, that is, it provides information about the stock and status of tools on the equipment and in the warehouse. As a result, it is possible to reduce the tool cycle and inventory quantity, and match the order quantity with the production status.

The software summarizes and tabulates all the tools used in the workpiece design and simulation process. Based on these tables, the number of tools required for each production task can be calculated taking into account the tool life and actual inventory.

The next step is to select a machining machine that already has all or most of the tools. The missing tools can be picked up from the warehouse or ordered from the supplier and included in the corresponding cost center.

Tool measurement is also incorporated into the TLM system. In this regard, TDM Systems can cooperate with manufacturers of pre commissioning systems. During the measurement process, such a system can obtain the tool rating parameters stored on the TDM and write the actual measured values back into the system. Therefore, the empirical values obtained from actual production can be used by designers at the design stage. The measured data can also be transmitted to the machine tool.

Through transparent processing of the tool stock, the replacement time and equipment downtime can be minimized.

Network connection and data communication between Coscom's Tooldirector VM system and the pre conditioning device as a mechanical digital measurement unit

Cooperation with tool manufacturers

The advantage of such management software is obvious: it can provide support for the management of tools that are continuously in use and require regular replacement and ordering. To provide support to users, tool manufacturers often collaborate with software professional companies. TDM Systems has also conducted such cooperation with Mapal. In the process of collaboration, software companies can connect the output and adjustment systems of precision tool manufacturers to their tool life management systems.

Mapal relies on the capabilities of the TDM system to provide support to users through its new logistics and service projects. The two companies jointly provide users with a way to achieve professional tool management. Through collaboration, Mapal's regulation and delivery systems can be interfaced with new or existing TDM applications. The interface enables the exchange of tool rating values and the copying of tool measurement values.

In addition to cooperating with software vendors, Mapal has also developed its own lifecycle management software for Class C components with SAP and other partner companies. With the help of the SAP-Hana cloud platform, the precision tool manufacturer has developed its own c-Com technical solution for efficiently manipulating tools and their data. In addition, Mapal launched a beta version of c-Com at AMB 2016.

Based on clear rules and access rights, users and suppliers can maintain and share relevant tool data on this open and transparent platform. The data used for collaboration is always up-to-date. Regardless of the number of users, after the data owner has performed a maintenance on the platform, all authorized participants can access the required information from their respective locations at any time.

In addition, enterprises can also compare their adopted technical solutions on this platform in their own environment, such as the tools and processing parameters required for the same workpiece processed in different factories. This can provide support for enterprise standardization and evaluation strategies, optimize inventory quantities and procurement strategies, and simplify the interaction between procurement and production, as well as between procurement and suppliers. Through the c-Com platform, suppliers can provide more targeted new services.

Tools in Industry 4.0

Another software manufacturer for tool management is Coscom. With the digital development of manufacturing, the enterprise has also integrated tool adjustment devices into its Tooldirector VM tool management system, which serves as the upper level central database. The NC programming process produces the entire tool pattern and corresponding tool application parameters (such as nominal data and cutting reference points). Cutting reference points are often unique to users and are changed during CAD/CAM programming.

In order for the tool to work correctly on a CNC machine tool, it is necessary to transmit the desired cutting reference point position to the pre adjustment mechanism. For the measurement process of the pre adjustment device itself, the central tool database can also provide measurement program information and corresponding scale and focus values that belong to the corresponding overall tool. All data is transmitted as specific overall tool information to the pre adjustment device to achieve correct machining of the workpiece. Only in this way can the simulation results on the verified virtual device be used in real machining operations.


In the Coscom technical solution, the Tooldirector VM is used as a central data source on the pre adjustment device. With a LAN connection, all required adjustment and measurement information is transmitted to the measurement device.

All systems pursue the goal of making the information flow transparent and efficient in the digital manufacturing process, from the procurement process to the product production process. Data is provided by a central system and centrally maintained, as is data flow. This is an embodiment of Industry 4.0 in real manufacturing.