| Hand-held devices are effective machine control panels thanks to cloud computing, which makes data easy to access and saves costs for servers and storage capacity that are no longer necessary. |
Grinding machine specialist United Grinding Technologies (UGT) is launching an equipment- and production-monitoring program — “cloud computing” specifically for grinding operations — with an initial focus on fault monitoring and alerts. CAREview™ Version 1.0, which the developer hopes will have 12 beta sites in operation by year’s end, includes controls for Fanuc 0i and Fanuc 31i CNC protocols, which will cover Studer, Walter, Blohm, and Mägerle grinding machines.
United Grinding Technologies is the North American arm of Koerber Schleifring, a grinding technology developer and machine manufacturer. UGT represents the Blohm, EWAG, Jung, Mägerle, Mikrosa, Schaudt, Studer, and Walter grinding lines, and it operates two locations (as well as regional offices): The Miamisburg, Oh., outlet supports cylindrical, surface, and profile grinders; and the Fredericksburg, Va., operation handles tool grinders and measuring machines.
How it works
The group describes cloud computing is described as “on-demand access to virtualized IT resources that are housed outside of your own data center.” Off-site information-sharing has numerous advantages with manufacturing operations, starting with the capital savings for servers and storage capacity that are no longer necessary once the data is stored elsewhere. Numerous operations now use “the cloud” as a disaster -recovery strategy.
CAREview™ receives data collected from customers’ machines that are linked to the cloud to the UGT server, and in turn the program delivers real-time analysis to the customer, “proactively driving predictive and preventive service, and dramatically decreasing downtime costs and emergency repairs to the equipment,” according to UGT.
There are mobile capabilities in the CAREview™ program, too, so the analysis is visible on-demand from anywhere, with a Web-enabled device.
“We have a software interface in the machine control that reads addresses that we (UGT) program,” explained UGT customer care assistant general manager, Joseph Szenay. “These addresses are then sent out to the cloud (actually a huge data farm that’s very much on terra firma). The data farm has an IP address that we assign per machine, per customer. The customer can then log in with any Internet connection using the IP address, and the Dashboard View of his machine will automatically appear via the Internet.”
The program’s Dashboard View shows real-time activity of a machine: Is it running? Is it in E-stop? Is it idle? Is it making parts? Dashboard captures a live view of what a machine is doing. From that view, customers’ can drill down to check a “tagged” component, to see when and if conditions change. For example, the customer may see that something less than the programmed number of parts have been completed, and CAREview™ makes it possible to locate and review the production records, to identify how, when, and why the program may have been adjusted.
“We set the ‘tags’ on the machine, which are part of the Input/Output of the machine,” said Szenay. “We have a wide range of tags that we can monitor, and the customer can decide which ones he wants to see.”
Benefits to shops
On CAREview™ Version 1.0, a manufacturer will have the Dashboard View to indicate whether a machine is running or if it’s idle. If it’s running parts, he’ll be able to see how many parts have been run. The Production View is for operators or manufacturing engineers (MEs) that run a line of machines. The ME won’t have to be on the shop floor to collect machine information; even on vacation he’ll be able to access the information on a handheld device.
CAREview™ is set up so that the operator can customize the Production Reports for specific information. He can check that machine are running, or not, and nothing more; or he can see a graphed chart of the past 24 hours to check how long the machine sat in E-stop, how long it was idle, and how many hours it operated. The program is specifically tailored for each customer, depending on his or her data preferences, according to UGT.
“We can do customized reports for customers, so they can take any production activity and export into Excel or other forms of output,” Szenay said. “The types of reports they can receive is almost limitless — anything we can see, we can write a report on — for the last year, the last month, the last hour.
“Generally, the ME is interested in production information,” he continued. “He doesn’t need to see what a grinding spindle, axis motor temperature, or amperage draw is. All he wants to know is how close he is to the ‘x’ number of parts he needs from this shift and next. Maintenance people want to see trending over time of these other data points, and CAREview™ can make a complete back up of the control every five minutes, if that’s the customer wants. If the company had a power outage, we’ve got a backup of up to five minutes before the power went out. They can then pull that data down and reload the machine and be back running in 20 minutes.”
Another area of application is in power consumption reports. “Our customers on their RFQs are asking questions about power consumption,” says Szenay. The release of Version 2.0 later in the third or fourth quarter of 2011 will address the servo motors, drives and grinding spindles for this purpose.
”We can show them which machine components are drawing more than others,” he continued. “We can look at a spindle motor that started out drawing 10 amps and now all of sudden it’s drawing 15 amps. What’s going on? Real analytics, trending over time and proactive or predictive maintenance will become possible with CAREview™.”
Is Cloud Computing safe?
The UGT operation in Miamisburg, Oh., is the “hub” where all the data activity takes place; program administrators maintain access to the system.
“The fact is,” according to Szenay, “the data that we actually send out at 128-bit encryption is zeros and ones: Nobody would be able to know what those zeros and ones mean. When the zeros and ones hit the data farm, we convert them into what they actually mean. We only send out from the customers’ machines: we never go back in (to access data.) We cannot go into the machine from the outside. It only sends out — as encrypted zeros and ones. Even if someone obtained access to the data farm, that person still wouldn’t know what the data meant.”