EMAG Production Lines Utilize Industry 4.0 with Modular Solutions
May 28, 2019
Industry 4.0 is a relatively simple term; however, it contains complex challenges involving questions of unified standards, safety, and the value-added process. Industry 4.0 is networking, primarily between widely diverse fields of business and technologies that used to coexist independently and are now expected to enter into a symbiotic relationship to shape tomorrow’s production processes.
"It took 10 years to move from home Internet to the smartphone, and then another 10 years for ‘life online’ to become what it is today,” said Peter Loetzner, president and CEO of EMAG LLC. “Even though this revolution happened quickly, it still took two decades. I think we should expect a similar timescale when looking at Industry 4.0. There is going to be a lot to develop and testing before we take full advantage of Industry 4.0 the way we live our networked lives today," Loetzner added.
EMAG Modular Solutions
By just looking at the machines in the Modular Solutions series, there is nothing that gives away that these are machine tools using a wide variety of technologies – except for the type designation. The machines themselves pretty much all look the same.
“The mechanical design is optimized to facilitate the interlinking of several machines. The gaps between machines, the transfer height, the placement of energy containers and chip conveyors – all that is standardized to enable the efficient construction of complex production lines based on a modular approach,” Loetzner said.
At EMAG, Modular Solutions means a multi-technology machine concept on a unified basic platform. All the machines in the EMAG Modular Solutions series have the same machine base made out of Mineralit polymer concrete– essentially a chassis on which the rest of the machine is installed. Every machine of this type also comes with EMAG’s signature pick-up automation system. This means that each machine has an integrated parts storage unit for blanks and finished parts. A pick-up spindle automatically loads and unloads the machine. For machining the workpieces, the EMAG Group’s entire range of technologies is available. For turning operations, the machines are equipped with powerful working spindles and EMAG’s proprietary turret with twelve tool posts. The latter can also be fitted with driven tools for drilling and milling.
Gears are made using technologies from EMAG. To complement the hobbing processes, a variety of methods for chamfering and deburring are available, depending on the requirements of the part. For hard machining, inside and outside grinding are available as well as technologies and tools for hard turning and scroll-free turning.
“This diversity of technologies on a unified machine base, combined with EMAG’s proprietary TrackMotion automation system, is our idea of production systems for Industry 4.0,” Loetzner said.
TrackMotion – Complete Automation
The TrackMotion automation system is the logical continuation of the concept behind Modular Solutions. Like the machines, the automation system is designed to be completely modular and can be adapted optimally to any production project. “To achieve the best symbiosis of automation and machine tool, we designed our machines so that the automation system can traverse directly behind the machining area. We basically built the machines with a tunnel for the TransLift to operate in. This really sets our Modular Solutions apart from the competition,” Loetzner said.
The TransLift is an NC gripper that moves on a rail system through the tunnel mentioned above. The gripper transfers workpieces between the parts storage unit and then machines and flips the part over between operations.
“The automation system is also easy to scale by simply extending the rail for additional TransLifts to run on. The system is simple but ingenious,” he added. “One thing that makes the overall system so interesting for Industry 4.0 is its focus on the single part. Instead of keeping dozens of workpieces in various stages of completion somewhere on a conveyor between or behind the machines, separate transport makes each part trackable without requiring special marking.”
Industry 4.0 Application with Intelligent Parts Tracking
This intelligent part tracking concept is implemented entirely in the software. It enables optimal process tracking and quality assurance, and it provides a complete overview of the current status of production. “We are able to track every single part from start to finish. We’re able import previously recorded data into our system and export the data recorded on our machines during production. This makes us completely open with regard to the development of future interfaces,” Loetzner explained. During production, parts quality is monitored continuously with measuring probes or other intelligent measuring systems. “We are experimenting with a range of different measuring systems in order to optimize results in terms of non-productive time and parts quality,” he added.
Ready for the Future
With its Modular Solutions, EMAG is offering a production system today that is already prepared for the challenges of the future. “We break down complex production processes into simple process steps, which we then implement on individual machines. From a data point of view, this creates clearly defined data packets that can be attributed to individual machines, machining processes, and parts. From a production point of view, it means short process cycles per machine resulting in a short total cycle, which in turn improves the productivity of the system as a whole,” Loetzner said. ”Here at EMAG, we are confident that our concept is a match for any challenge that the market is going to set us in the future – with a product that you can already buy today.”
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