Technical corporate training company STODT is building a smart factory environment based on the Siemens Industry 4.0 Platform in Hengelo. With this, STODT aims to help machining companies with their digital transformation. CNC machine operators will develop the skills they need in order to continue to produce in the future.
By automating and digitising processes and production systems, machining companies are able to quickly and cost-efficiently market smaller product series with high complexity and added value. Small and medium-sized companies in the sector often have insufficient financial resources and innovative capacity to take this step. In the framework of the Interreg NWE663-MACHINING 4.0 programme, STODT helps to lift the sector’s capacity for knowledge and innovation to a higher level. Together with Siemens Digital Industries, STODT is building a digital factory in Hengelo in which data-based CAM programming is standard and orders are directly sent from the ERP system to the machines. Within this fully automated production environment, future CNC machine operators will attend training and courses to learn how to improve processes and reduce costs, shorten delivery times and have more flexibility.
“Young people like working with data and see it as an opportunity to get better at their profession," says project leader Bob Selker of Stodt. “That makes them valuable for machining companies. Because there is still no real digital learning environment in the sector, we have decided to create one. Our students and trainees get to work with innovative software tools and will develop modules to optimise processes on the basis of data. This gives the machining profession a new dimension and makes it more attractive. And we need that because growth in this sector has been a problem for years."
Digitisation: a must
Machining companies can get acquainted with the latest industrial software in the digital field lab. Selker: “Digitisation in the machining sector is also a must. Data give insight into your machine park and production, 24/7. Based on this, you can improve processes and achieve more with the same number of people." The backbone of the field lab is formed by the Siemens software packages NX and Teamcenter, and the cloud environment Mindsphere. STODT has already linked its CNC lathes and milling machines in the training centre in Hengelo to Mindsphere. In the coming months, the machines at the STODT site in Best will also be included in this environment. The Mind apps are used by STODT to analyse the data which are sent from the production environment to the cloud.
Smart Mind apps
The Manage MyMachines app reads the status of all machines. “It records whether or not a machine is producing, has broken down or is waiting for a product that will be placed in the machine by a robot," explains product manager Hans Ouwehand of Siemens. “This allows you to optimise and make the machine as productive as possible." The Manage MyProducts app knows the planning of machinery and verifies whether the actual production falls within that planning or is taking longer than originally planned. The app also tracks the quality of the products and the number of rejected products. The Analyse MyCondition app supports machine maintenance. It monitors the current to the motors and vibrations. If these differ from the baseline measurement by a certain percentage, the app determines with an algorithm whether an engine or bearing must soon be replaced. This provides the basis for predictive maintenance and reduces unplanned stops. Selker: All this together provides insight into processes, enabling machining companies to optimise, accelerate and improve their product quality."
The practical knowledge of STODT and the technological innovation capacity of Siemens complement each other very well. They have been working together for many years. The field lab is a useful initiative for both parties. Ouwehand: “This allows Siemens to show companies our intelligent apps in combination with the machines. We can invite customers and give a live demonstration of the benefits of this solution." Selker: “For us, as a training institute, collecting data and taking action, as a result, is a new discipline. These techniques are then also dealt with in the training sessions and courses. It is nice that Siemens supports us in this. Soon we are going to start a pilot with two machining companies. They are going to share their data with us through the apps. With our students, we want to develop modules with the aim of helping the data owner to improve his processes."