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Increasing digitalisation in metal-cutting

Source:International Metalworking News for Asia- October 2018

Date Published:10/5/2018 02:10:35 PM

On the road to digitalisation operating equipment interfaces represent, so to speak, the eye of the needle in networking. 

Professor Eberhard Abele

For Industry 4.0 the produced data must not only be recorded, but also transmitted on a non-proprietary basis. Standardisation is the only way to clear this hurdle. This was one of the topics in the new special "Digital Way" show and congress during the recently concluded AMB, International Exhibition for Metal Working, which happened in Stuttgart, Germany.

Machine tools have now already reached a high level of perfection. However, anyone still wanting to make significant economic improvements and therefore gain advantages in future can only actually do this through interaction with the other components in the complete system and even by means of cross-company cooperation. According to the study "Industry 4.0 in small and medium-sized companies," conducted by the management consultancy Deloitte in 2016, 90 percent of small and medium-sized companies primarily associate the term Industry 4.0 with digitally networked systems.

Four questions for Professor Eberhard Abele, Head of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools (PTW) at Darmstadt Technical University

Professor Abele, are interfaces an obstacle on the road to digitalisation?

Operations managers and especially production planners must plan, purchase and increasingly network many different operating resources. Planners do not even have the time to invest a great deal of effort in networking problems. It's a great help then if a non-proprietary standard is available. Industry 4.0 will only make advances in production areas if it becomes as easy as possible to network components.

Shouldn't this interface standard apply worldwide in order to be successful?
Even though nobody can predict how the world will develop, it is definitely worthwhile if the standards are set here. It is almost a natural law that those setting standards have certain advantages on the market. In my opinion, there are good prospects since Germany is one of the leading countries in the area of machine tool manufacturing.

A large number of new platforms in manufacturing are currently being created. These platforms will make it easier to exchange data via the Cloud. Isn't there a threat of fragmentation again?
Many different alliances have been formed behind these platforms. These alliances include, for example, Mindsphere from Siemens, Axoom from Trumpf or Adamos from DMG Mori and others. At present, it is difficult to see where we are heading. However, there will certainly be more than one solution in the long term. Especially since there are companies which act very uniformly when selecting operating resources and will favour the solution recommended by their particular machine manufacturer.
On the other hand, there are thousands of production companies which work with a large number of manufacturers. They will prefer to choose open platforms.

The innovation show of the PTW is one of the flagship events during AMB. What did you present?

We presented very specific solutions relating to Industry 4.0 along with other real cutting-edge technology. Visitors to AMB can no longer take in all of the enormously diverse programme of AMB which has become even larger. Our objective was to show the relevant future developments in a concentrated form in one place. Matters were explained and categorised during the guided tours of our exhibition stand.

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