29 April 2020

Edge Computing: Digitalization in machine tool manufacturing

Adopted to industry-specific needs, SINUMERIK Edge takes new capabilities and technologies directly to machine tools. The unique data access and data analytics applications, individually created and provided by Siemens, create an added value for customers – right on the shop floor.

Industrial Edge is an umbrella concept from Siemens that covers a wide range of products and services in the area of edge computing. A standard technological core will enable Siemens to revolutionize industrial production in the future using edge computing. SINUMERIK* Edge is the markets first available product that realizes this concept: an end-to-end system specifically designed for the needs of manufacturing using machine tools.

Processing data at the edge of the network with SINUMERIK Edge

Edge computing is based on the concept of processing large volumes of data locally – at the edge of the network, in other words – without having to upload them to the cloud first. Consequently, Industrial Edge takes decentralized intelligence into the world of manufacturing. Large volumes of data can be processed directly and efficiently, improving the security of confidential information and enabling rapid feedback from the data. Metadata generated using edge computing can be forwarded to any desired instance system: for example, local ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), or MES (Manufacturing Execution System), or cloud systems.

Digitalization even for older machines in brownfield environments

A fundamental element of SINUMERIK Edge is its separation from the automation process. Consequently, the latest IT technology can easily be integrated into existing operating technologies: Complex, computing-intensive applications using data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) can run in a separate, protected environment, without drawing on the machine tool’s computing power. The separation from the automation also enables a simplified use in already existing machines in the brownfield as well as connecting some third-party controllers. Furthermore, the feedback communication from SINUMERIK Edge back to the machine occurs under stringently controlled conditions; in other words, machine operation is ensured at all times.

Unique access to machine tool data through the managed system SINUMERIK Edge

Access to SINUMERIK drive data is provided via a proprietary interface in the NCU (Numeric Control Unit) – including a timestamp – continuously and deterministically at a rate of up to 1,000 values per second. OPI and PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) variables, including status reports and alarms, are available in SINUMERIK Edge. Data access is very efficient: On-site testing for a customer in realistic conditions only revealed additional loading of approximately one percent on the CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) controller processor. Utilizing an OPC-UA (Open Platform Communications United Architecture) client, a PLC interface, and other mechanisms available in the future will make it possible to connect the system with other machine types and machines from other manufacturers.

SINUMERIK Edge is also a managed system. Customers benefit from having a complete system pre-configured for the target industry that always reflects the state of the art. Edge Management allows you to have the latest operating system, security patches, and software components on your devices. You can also efficiently distribute and update your applications.

Development of individual apps for and re-selling based on new business models with SINUMERIK Edge

Customers can also program their applications themselves. SINUMERIK Edge offers a docker-based app SDK that customers can use to program their own applications easily using common high-level languages like Python and C++. A marketplace will be available in the future for machine tool builders and software firms to sell their own applications.

This will let machine manufacturers and service partners make their expertise available to their customers via a secure, scalable platform. Industrial Edge therefore opens up a field of activity for new service and business models.

Customer benefits of Digitalization on the shopfloor with SINUMERIK Edge apps

Siemens is already offering applications of its own for edge computing with machine tools. SINUMERIK Edge apps can be basically divided into three categories:

  • Analyze and ensure process and workpiece quality
  • Assure process stability
  • Improve productivity by increasing output and saving resources

Analyze and ensure process and workpiece quality

The first stage in optimizing workpiece quality is to analyze high-frequency machine data and optimize part programs. This allows product quality to be improved continuously and over the long term.

The next stage of evolution, so to speak, is continuous quality monitoring during production. Siemens also has a tool for this task that enables data on position, power, and deviations to be monitored at millisecond intervals. Statistical and AI-based models can then be used to identify deviations in processing quality. An example application in this area involves identifying tool wear in order to ensure more effective use of resources.

Artificial intelligence for image recognition is also finding its way into industrial production processes thanks to SINUMERIK Edge. Trained neural networks recognize the type and position of the workpiece and therefore help assure process quality. Here too, the ability to identify tool wear is another useful application. A categorization process identifies the best time to replace the tool.

Assure process stability

A basic precondition for process stability is a mechanically and electrically intact machine tool. To determine whether the machine is in perfect order and responds to any deviations, Siemens offers an application that produces a mechanical fingerprint of the machine tool. Regular axis tests record the condition of the machine tool using a range of variables. The application provides an illustration and an analysis of values and reference values in a clear and intuitive form, both from a historical perspective on a specific machine and a comparison of many different machine. Predictive maintenance boosts machine tool availability and ensures that the machine will work with the necessary degree of precision to meet the highest quality requirements.

Collision avoidance using a virtual twin of the machine tool and workpiece will help safeguard the process during manufacturing in the future. The algorithm needed to achieve this will also run directly on the machine.

Improve productivity by increasing output and saving resources

When it comes to improving productivity, Siemens has an advanced type of trochoidal milling in its portfolio. Instead of moving down the slot in a straight line, with trochoidal milling each cut is a circular arc, basically using a tool with a narrower diameter and offering a deeper cut into the material. Polynomial interpolation allows tool center paths to be created with variable speeds individually coordinated with the dynamics of the machine. These elements result in a more even distribution of force and clean swarf removal. Users benefit from shorter processing times and increased tool service life.

The second application in this category improves productivity by reducing cycle time. In large magazines with many tools, the fact that tools are placed at random and it takes a long time to get them ready often results in lost time. Siemens has a SINUMERIK Edge application to handle this: It uses a mathematical optimization process to determine the best position for tools in the magazine.

Make the next step into your digital future with Siemens

As an industry-specific system, SINUMERIK Edge offers users many opportunities to optimize machine-level processes. Ultimately, the Industrial Edge concept will play a fundamental role in the digitalization of industrial production. Make the next step into your digital future with edge computing from Siemens.

Get more information and get in touch with our project experts to implement edge computing in your production on the SINUMERIK Edge website.

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