Siemens has added capabilities to its Sinumerik suite of machine-control software that networks machining with production-level IT systems.
"System integration is a big market," Chris Pollack, dealer support specialist in motion control systems for the company, said. The connection between work-handling operations and automation is "weak throughout the market," he said, so Siemens is expanding the functionality of its networked machine controls.
The developments in this area indicate an example of how formerly separate or loosely connected functions like machining, production control, and automation are being integrated in modern manufacturing environments. Machine shops and other manufacturers are looking to improve quality, productivity, and the economy of their operations, so they are increasingly turning to systems with highly integrated capabilities to do this.
An added benefit of integration is the ability to optimize small-batch production, notably through automation. Pollack said that in the past, manufacturers viewed automation as primarily for high production volume work. Now, however, integrated machining, control, and automation can be used just as economically for low-volume operations and frequent product changeovers, as well as to compensate for a lack of skilled personnel.
Among the new capabilities Siemens has announced are CNC turning and milling functions; they have been added to the Sinumerik Operate graphic user interface. These functions are designed to simplify machine operation and are for use with the company's 828D compact CNC control or modular 840D sl CNC control. The Sinumerik Operate system's program manager has also been updated with a capability that allows direct access to connected drives. This means operators can work simultaneously on all connected drives and their file structures. A greater number of different file formats can be displayed, as well.
Sinumerik Operate's high-speed cycle package has been simplified with the use of plain text for a number of machine functions. Operations such as roughing, pre-finishing, and finishing are output now as plain text, and orientation tolerances can be readily entered, usually by specifying a few parameters.
A new retraction function is configured to quickly restore machining after an interruption due to a power failure, NC reset, or another reason. With this function, a machine tool can quickly be reset to begin operating at exactly the point where the interruption occurred.
Siemens also developed a scalable package of coordinated automation and drive components for tapping centers - which, in this case, are primarily small workspaces for milling, drilling, and thread machining. The package consists of the 828D compact CNC control with new PPU2xx.3 panel processing units, a new version of the Sinamics S120 Combi drive with triple overload capacity, and the new Simotics M-1PH8 Premium Performance high-speed main motor.
The company said that coordinating the control and components can have a significant impact on the productivity of tapping operations. The control system hardware is, for example, engineered for powerful operation, the converter has a high level of overload resistance, and the main motor generates startup spindle speeds of up to 24,000 rpm in less than one second - a capability that could be an important time-saver for operations requiring frequent tool changes, Siemens said.
Two other additions to the Sinumerik software include Access MyData (AMD) and Manage MyMaintenance (MMM).
AMD is a set of open interfaces that allow direct access by operators and others to machine and process data from CNC machines operating with the Sinumerik 840D sl control. A feature of the new capability is that machine tools are directly connected to the Sinumerik Integrate server in the shop. The upgrade, which is free, allows direct reading and writing of NC and programmable logic control data from the server. Extensions of the upgrade, which must be purchased, permit the processing of machine tool data and transfer of NC part programs through a file-transfer interface.
The MMM interface gives small and medium-size shops access to a formal program of maintenance management, also without an additional upfront cost. The program is designed to alert and instruct machine operators when maintenance dates arrive. Time and tasks are listed on a display and color-coded indicators show which operations are overdue and which are not in immediate need of attention.
The Sinumerik Operate graphic user interface has been optimized for CNC turning and milling.