Along with wider access to raw materials, technologies, and customer markets, one of the indicators of globalization are industrial standards — for quality control, production standards, and lately environmental compliance. To date, energy-efficiency may not be a differentiator for CNC machine tools, but the expectation of such standards is growing.
True, machine tools contain motors and auxiliary components with a varying range of energy needs. Now, a new series of ISO standards is available to help measure energy supplied and improve machine design and performance.
Machine tool technology covers an array of tools for cutting and forming metal, as well as wood and plastics, and all their accessories, machine tools across the spectrum of manufacturing industries, including automotive, general machinery, precision engineering, as well as medical and surgical devices, transportation, aerospace, and molds/dies.
Also, machine tools use different forms of energy, including electrical energy, compressed air, hydraulic energy, energy hidden in the cooling and lubrication system, etc. So, the energy demand of a machine tool is considered to be critical data for investment, and yet it is not an isolated factor. Evaluating the performance of a machine tool includes assessing it economic value, its technical specification and its operating requirements, which are influenced by the specific application.
This is why the environmental footprint of a machine is a common challenge for all operators, and as natural resources become scarce, environmental-performance criteria for machine tools must be defined and applied properly and uniformly.
ISO, the International Standards Organization, recently published the first two parts of a new international standard for the environmental evaluation of machine tools. It proposes to analyze machine tools with regard to the delivered functions in order to highlight the commonalities in the huge variety of existing machine tool types:
ISO 14955-1, Machine tools - Environmental evaluation of machine tools, Part 1: Design methodology for energy-efficient machine tools, addresses the energy efficiency of machine tools during their working life. It identifies the main functions and machine tool components that are responsible for energy demand during the use phase. Then, these components are compared with previous components or with the state-of-the-art for their future improvement.
ISO 14955-2, Machine tools - Environmental evaluation of machine tools, Part 2: Methods for measuring energy supplied to machine tools and machine tool components, supports the energy-saving design methodology according to ISO 14955-1 by providing practical methods for measuring the energy supplied to machine tools.
Ralf Reines, Convenor of ISO/TC 39/WG 12 that developed the standards, explained: “This is, to my knowledge, the only standard concerning this topic that is tailored for machine tools. It covers the topic in a way that it can be applied to each and every machine tool, despite the fact that the product group of machine tools is extremely diverse, e.g. different technologies (such as milling, turning, grinding, laser processing, forming), processing of material (metal, wood, plastics), sizes (to produce parts the size of a tooth or to process gears for windmills of 10 m in diameter). The standard focuses on the relevant energy users to achieve a higher environmental performance without losing in technical possibilities.”
According to Market Report 2016, a study prepared by the German Machine Tool Builders’ Association, global production of machine tools represents a €67.7 billion (est. $79 billion) market. The increasing demand for machinery and production systems that are more energy-efficient is a relatively new challenge for machine designers. With the new ISO 14955 series, energy efficiency is likely to become an increasingly important quality differentiator for machine operators, too.