CNC capabilities, simulations advance, with up to 30% time savings

Advanced controls and related software for computer numerical controls (CNC), used in planning and design through commissioning, can result in considerable time savings. One pilot project reduced three weeks work to three days.

By Mark T. Hoske September 16, 2015

Digitalization is providing benefits to machine tool manufacturing and connected systems, according to Siemens executives speaking about the company’s computer numerical control (CNC), motion control, design, simulation, and integration capabilities, in advance of the CNC machine tool conference, EMO Milan 2015, Oct. 5-10.

During an online press conference on Sept. 15:

– Bernd Heuchemer, vice president, motion control, marketing and communications, Siemens AG, Erlangen, Germany, discussed new innovations for the machine tool market.

– Sascha Fischer, machine tool business manager, Siemens Industry Inc., Elk Grove Village, Ill., examined the time savings from integrated engineering.

– Chris Pollack, Siemens Industry Inc., provided a virtual demonstration of CNC and machine tool simulation capabilities.

– John Meyer, manager, marketing communications, motion control business, at Siemens Industry Inc., also in Elk Grove Village, moderated discussions.

Shorter time to market

Heuchemer said that the Siemens Motion Control group, which includes general motion control and machine tool systems, is working to shorten time to market, increase flexibility, and boost efficiency for machine tool original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Siemens Digital Enterprise software suite increased integration capabilities following Industrie 4.0 requirements, with product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, manufacturing operations management (MOM) software, and Siemens TIA, Simatic, and Sinumarik products, among others.

CNC software is being used for additive manufacturing and in hybrid machines that combine additive manufacturing with subtractive manufacturing (cutting, shaping, and smoothing) machine tools.

Heuchemer described a seamless process chain with computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), and CNC software with virtual machine simulation that accepts information from design software and allows full testing in emulation software prior to running on an actual machine tool.

Software readily connect and interoperates with next-to-machine robotics, automated material handling, and intelligent logistics, along with horizontal and vertical integration to manufacturing execution system and IT-level software.

Integration engineering

Fischer, head of machine tools systems for Siemens Industry Inc., compared life before and after integrated engineering.

Before: Going from planning and design through commissioning was very time consuming, with a of lot paper across many departments. CNC often was the last stage in sequential design; correcting errors that originated in the planning stages are expensive, often causing delay in machine delivery.

After: Integrated, concurrent engineering reduces time, as quality issues are resolved early.

The result, Fischer said, is up to 30% time savings. Testing, under real connections in simulation, avoids delays and damage. A digital map significantly reduces time to market for OEMs and end customers. He said the first pilot project reduced what previously had taken three weeks to just three days.

Machine operators are motivated by same drivers as OEMs, Fischer noted. End customers want to run programs without collisions, without errors, and know the time it takes for a job to run on various machines. They also want to know how time can be saved when testing new programs. Virtual machine software optimizes the CAD/CAM/CNC process chain.

Less programming

At the machine, intelligent software makes it easier to integrate machine tools into operations. Touch technology, such as that used on smartphones and tablets, was first offered on CNC software by Siemens, Fischer said.

Siemens SmartIT capabilities provide network access of all job documentation at the machine, in multiple file formats, no matter where it’s stored, saving time and preventing errors. Data can be imported easily, saving up to 90% of programming time with one mouse click, Fischer said.

For machine and above-floor-level communications, Siemens Sinumerik Integrate software connects the production network to integrate to the server and office networks. Data security is ensured throughout the system with encryption and separation of operating files, as needed, he said. Storage size no longer limits operations, he said.

Siemens Manage MyProgram software transfers information needed to the machine in a few seconds, with information relevant to production. Editing, commenting, versioning functions are available.

Robotic integration

Next to the machine, robots are increasingly used to automate the part flow for loading, machining, and unloading for higher productivity, as CNC software can be used to also control nearby robots.

Demonstrations, in cooperation with Kuka, are planned at EMO Milan, using the Siemens Sinumerik Integrate Run MyRobot software.

Inside the machine, 4-axis turning, using Siemens Sinumerik software, reduces time consuming and complicated operations, allowing cutting while turning, for 4-axis roughing. Two tools operate simultaneously in one process, boosting productivity, Fischer said.

In addition, Siemens Top Surface programming increases precision and optimizes data for subsequent tool paths for improved work piece geometry, even with poor data quality. The principle of similarity is applied to provide intelligent functions.

Additive manufacturing, simulation

Additive machining and subtractive machine hybrids are being used with metal alloys, without costly rework or additional work. The production process is being optimized as advanced software helps with integration. DMG Mori will demonstrate these capabilities at EMO Milan, Fischer said.

Chris Pollack demonstrated Siemens SinuTrain for Sinumerik Operate software, to emulate machine setup and run the software as a simulation. The software extracts parameters and emulates the machine. Pollack then proceeded through setup to the program manager to check for missing data before running the job on the actual machine.

The software emulates the program and what is about to happen, with full support of a 5-axis cutter path within the simulation package. This allows setup without taking up machine time. Those involved can make changes, corrections, check with engineering, and update for validation. The job runs first in simulation, limiting potential downtime, by anticipating potential problems, Pollack said. Strategies can be developed for possible recovery, if, say, someone hits reset in the middle of a 5-hour job, to save the work prior to shutdown.

Training is much easier with the software, Pollack added.

– Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering,

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Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.