Uses remote access and condition monitoring from Siemens to troubleshoot and reduce machine tool service calls by over 25 percent
Monogram Aerospace Fasteners (MAF) is a leading producer of high-strength blind bolts for aircraft assembly, temporary fasteners for fixturing and alignment as well as installation, finishing and removal tools. With manufacturing expertise spanning more than 120 years, the company has pioneered a number of fastener innovations. Its Visu-Lok® Composi-Lok®, Radial-Lok® and OSI-Bolt® brands are well known throughout the aerospace manufacturing world. Likewise, the company's fastener designs have evolved with the times and technology to incorporate various features required for semi- or totally automated assembly operations, as well as to meet the unique fastening requirements of today's composite aero structures. The company boasts numerous industry certifications (AS9100, ISO9001 and NADCAP), plus supplier awards for quality, delivery and its achievements in driving the technology forward.
Recently, MAF had purchased four new Eubama S6 CNC turning machines. This German builder, with its local office in Elkhart, Indiana, provided the S6 line to MAF, specifically for the high volume of fastener families produced at the company. A key to the S6 design is the centerline clamping, two-jaw chucking system that allows fast diameter changeovers for the rapid production of workpiece families. The powerful Siemens Sinumerik 840D CNC on the S6 permits nearly immediate restart of the cutting cycle with the proper feed speed and rapid traverse, after a fast tool and clamp jaw change, made possible by the configuration of the machine design. The CNC was considered by MAF as a critical step up from the conventional hydraulic or hydromechanical control typically found on such machines. It was a definite solution to the small and medium batch production needs at the fastener manufacturer.
There was also some consideration being given to a further enhancement, namely, an ongoing condition monitoring system offered by Siemens that would substantially improve the predictive maintenance capabilities at MAF. While many companies do preventive maintenance in a regular pattern and set time period, predictive maintenance would key the activities of the MAF personnel to the actual performance and onsite utilization of the machine tools.
While at an IMTS trade show, a team of MAF company engineers, led by industrial technologist Karl Haffner, saw a demonstration of a remote access, condition monitoring system from Siemens, part of the CNC manufacturer's Electronic Production Services (ePS) suite. With no interruption in production whatsoever, the ePS protocol could be set-up on each machine, monitoring every keystroke and machine action taken, storing them on a secure cloud server. As Daniel Martinez from the Aerospace Center of Competence at Siemens describes it, "Monogram was seeking a total service solution, where the basic service contract they received would be extended in functionality by giving our service department the ability to look into their Eubama machines on very short notice. In the end, Karl convinced his management that the enhanced service and remote access capabilities of our ePS were a less costly investment, compared to the increase in service and inside maintenance needed."
Specifically, after a lengthy needs assessment by Valerie Biester, the business developer for Siemens, and her team, working with Haffner and other MAF personnel, it was determined the Condition Monitoring System would track five key conditions (called triggers) with SMS/e-mail notification. Additionally, production part count would be plotted graphically, for easy access by the production team.
The five "triggers" included a maintenance task involving backups on each machine, part counts per shift, spindle temperature, alarm log and current status of each machine, plus a notification if the machine was in e-stop condition for more than 30 minutes.
On the Siemens technical support side, engineer Brad Cornell commented, "By accessing the Eubama machines at MAF with our ePS, we eliminated additional calls to identify part numbers and software versions. I could look into the error log, versions display and machine data instantly to get actual values. By utilizing ePS remote viewing, we minimized time spent on the diagnosis of a failure."
With the remote access and condition monitoring services installation, set-up and MAF operator training complete in less than one day, the impact on production was minimal and, according to Karl Haffner, the improvements in the maintenance efficiencies have been substantial at his company.
As an example of the functionality of the system, MAF recently contacted the Siemens Technical Center in Elk Grove Village, Illinois (Chicago) regarding a fault on one of the Eubama S6 turning centers. The remote access session was initiated by the MAF operator directly on the machine's CNC and the technical support was able to see the alarm log directly onscreen to diagnose the issue. It was immediately determined that an onsite field service call was needed. However, prior to the use of ePS, this incident would likely have required 3-4 additional calls and as much as 300 percent more time to resolve. The obvious savings to the MAF production scenario were substantial.
Through ePS, all HMI action logs, machine data and CNC status data are captured in real time. A PLC trace enables the prior actions to be taken as a snapshot for instant analysis of alarms. Alerts generated by the system can take the form of text or email messages, both internal to the MAF personnel and externally to the Siemens Technical Support. A typical report generated by this condition monitoring system can include a circularity test, synchronized axes and universal axis test, as well as NC and PLC trace and spindle vibration monitoring.
Val Biester further noted that the trigger determinations can vary substantially with the customer. "This is definitely not a one-size-fits-all proposition, because the production variables monitored are driven by customer and machine needs." She also noted that condition monitoring services are not designed only for large production departments. "A shop of any size can benefit almost immediately from this service, especially where 'lights out machining' takes place. In a smaller shop, where there is often no distinct maintenance personnel, the operator and shop owner alike can use condition monitoring to their advantage." Additionally, she cited the benefits to the machine tool builder. "Although a shop might not wish to access all the data the system can collect, a builder might find it useful to have such comparative real-world information on hand, for its own evaluation of current machine technology and planning for its future machine generations."
The materials run at MAF typically include 6AL4V titanium, A286 stainless steel, Inconel, plus various alloy steels and 300 Series stainless. The core products at MAF are blind bolts of the highest tensile strength, used as structural fasteners on airframes, primarily on control surfaces such as rudders, flaps, ailerons and both horizontal and vertical tail sections.
Monogram Aerospace Fasteners, a TriMas company, was founded in 1889 as the National Screw & Tack Company, in Cleveland, Ohio. The California facility was opened in 1949 to serve the growing needs of West Coast industry and commerce and, in the 1970s, became completely dedicated to the burgeoning aerospace business. Today, the company occupies 130,000 square feet and employs over 250 people. MAF supplies total fastening solutions for the commercial, military and business aircraft platforms of most major airframe manufacturers and their sub-tier contractors. In addition to the Eubama turning centers detailed here, MAF runs a complete machine tool department with rotary transfer, lathe, screw machine, headers, grinders, punch presses and robotic handling devices. Heat treat services are also provided to other fastener manufacturers, while plating and specialty coating processes are performed in-house as well. As part of its green initiative, MAF maintains a comprehensive waste control and treatment operation, plus a systematic energy management program.
For more information on this story, please contact:
MONOGRAM AEROSPACE FASTENERS
A TriMas Company
3423 South Garfield Avenue
Commerce, CA 90040-3103
Karl Haffner, Facilities CPE/Industrial Technologist
SIEMENS INDUSTRY, INC.
MACHINE TOOL BUSINESS
390 Kent Avenue
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Attention: John Meyer, Manager, Marketing Communications