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Information Down to the Chip Level

March 22, 2012
Siemens integrates CNCs with communication, engineering, and production processes
Sinumerik Integrate is Siemens’ comprehensive, modular offering for integrating machine tools with communication, engineering and production processes. Across every department — from development and purchasing through to production and sales — the ability to integrate machine and production data into company information is becoming more important to competitiveness for machining operations. It is only by gaining an overview of the entire production process, right down to the chip level, that machine shops and other manufacturers can achieve the transparency that uncovers weak spots and develop a continuous improvement process. This requires integrating machine tools into corporate processes and is vital to achieving lean production. Siemens Drive Technologies offers products and solutions designed to support engineering and other processes that include machine tools, which now fit under Sinumerik Integrate. It is this solution that allows machine tool data to be integrated quickly, simply, and reliably into other company processes. IT integration of production processes allows managers, machine operators, part programmers, maintenance engineers, and machine tool builders to be inter-connected and integrated into the overall system by means of defined processes. Sinumerik Integrate facilitates this network by concentrating IT-related functions into a single process suite, using six different modules that cover every aspect of the machine tool integration process.

The “Create-it!” module brings together solutions for generating and configuring user-specific functions in the Sinumerik Operate user interface. Programming interfaces to machine tools and to company servers also falls within the scope of this module. Extensive function libraries are offered, for example, that facilitate the use of NC, PLC, and HMI functions across the entire network. Protecting proprietary technological expertise in the machine tool against unauthorized access is the function of the “Lock-it!” module. Examples here include copy protection or the safe storage of user information with the aid of encrypted cycles.

The “Run-it!” module encompasses the entire runtime system for execution of the individual screen interfaces and of internal compile cycles at the NC kernel. Drive control and also the workflow of the virtual numerical controller kernel (VNCK) are also part of this module. “Manage-it!” is used to organize and manage NC programs and tools, comprising solutions related to tool, data and program management to enable the fast, overarching availability of production information. The rapid availability of NC programs over the network, central NC program management and storage are also key functions of this module, as is an overview of actual tool data. Added to these features are a transparent tool cycle for the entire production process and the connection of tool identification systems.

The standardized communication interface used throughout the Sinumerik CNC family is made available by the “Access-it!” module, which allows remote accessing for machine diagnostics. This module helps reduce machine downtime, enhances machine availability by allowing fast online access and cuts maintenance costs. It also allows backups to be automatically initiated by the higher-level data backup software overnight, or de-centrally generated information such as local NC programs to be collected automatically. “Access-it” also reduces standstill periods and prevents data loss in the event of component failure.

The “Analyze-it!” module makes a number of efficient functions for condition-based maintenance and key indicator-based analysis available. The continuous evaluation of information within the production process allows machine run-times to be increased, while condition-oriented maintenance reduces machine downtime and standstill periods. In addition, this module permits users to evaluate indicators relating to the wear of mechatronic components.

Sinumerik Integrate offers machine tool OEMs a variety of possibilities for the machine-specific optimization of Sinumerik CNCs in terms of improved technology, programming and operation. It allows builders to integrate their machines quickly, simply and efficiently into overarching customer production and communication processes. However, machine tool users can also use Siemens Integrate to integrate their machines into complex existing corporate IT systems. Benefits include improved productivity and the availability of machines in addition to an overall reduction in manufacturing costs.

By bringing all the IT-relevant functions of a machine tool CNC together to create a complete process suite, Siemens is providing a way of simplifying the technical and organizational implementation of strategic concepts underlying any innovative production lifecycle management (PLM) process. Machine tools can be commissioned more effectively — and made more productive and easier to customize and optimize over their entire lifecycle within the complete PLM process chain.