Lot Size One? New Controllers Enable Low-Volume Production

 
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BY KATHY WEBSTER, CORRESPONDENCE FOR MT360

Currently, buying a 5-Axis CNC system is like buying a car. You walk onto the lot and hope they have your combination of options. Gisbert Ledvon, TNC Business Development Manager, Heidenhain, argues that, “With the emergence of the digital thread and the demand for a lot size of one, controllers now play a more prominent role to ensure the first part comes off the machine perfectly. Machinists need the right controller for their application, not just the CNC that is available on the distributor’s floor right now.”

Heidenhain, a manufacturer of precision measurement and motion control solutions, will showcase its TNC 640 controller capabilities and demonstrate the next generation of process flow in the Virtual Factory, part of the new MT360 event. Focused on connecting manufacturers to the software developers and investors of Silicon Valley, MT360 aims to accelerate the integration of emerging technologies into manufacturing. MT360 takes place May 12 – 14, 2020 in Santa Clara, Calif.

In addition to its demonstration, Heidenhain’s Dr. Jens Kummetz, Head of Marketing and Project Management Controls, will deliver a presentation titled, Automated Manufacturing of Lot Size One - Challenges for NC Controls in the Tech Theatre. “After the presentation, visitors are encouraged to discuss controllers with us in the Virtual Factory without the distraction of the flying chips you’d see at a trade show,” says Ledvon.  

Cutting the First Part Right

A key issue facing job shops and manufacturers is that they no longer have the luxury of cutting multiple test parts and making multiple parameter adjustments before a production run.

“There’s more variety in the parts now, there’s smaller lot sizes — even lot sizes of one — and we can help companies ensure that the first part comes off the machine perfect,” says Ledvon. “Cutting the first part right demands a new process flow, which we’ll demonstrate in three stations at MT360.”

The first station features a visual setup control (VSC) where a camera mounted on the pallet changer or inside the CNC takes a picture of a perfect setup, which is then stored in the TNC 640 control. Before cutting, the control and camera check a part against the original setup, alerting the operator if something is amiss.

The second station features the TNC640 control with two screens, one for 3D simulation of the part and the other set up as a state monitor to display the entire machine part process: running time, spindle on/off, error messages, maintenance, etc.

The last station demonstrates in-process inspection where the part is measured with a touch probe and feeds data to control for potential adjustments. Ledvon notes that while some companies take advantage of one or two of these technologies, no one is currently using all three.

“The good news is that many of the functions required by next-generation manufacturing are already included as standard with Heidenhain,” says Gisbert. “We’ll show you how to look deeper into the features they need for specific applications. That’s what’s great about MT360. It’s a new approach to educating and helping people adopt cutting edge technology in their manufacturing processes.”

Space is limited. Register today at mt360conference.com.

MT360, May 12 – 14, 2020, Santa Clara, Calif.