Specifically, the two firms will be promoting their joint expertise in supplying turnkey cells for the machining of titanium, nickel-based alloys and other difficult-to-cut metals, notably in the aerospace industry, but also in sectors such as oil and gas. The initiative comes close on the heels of the opening in Alcester, at the end of last year, of Seco's first-ever global innovation hub, which in this instance is devoted to developing advanced processes for machining aerospace components.
In a further development, a Heller H6000 horizontal machining centre was added on permanent loan to the array of machine tools from different suppliers available for cutting demonstrations at Alcester. It is this machine, with its 12,000 rpm spindle unit and integral camera, which will be on the Heller stand at MACH.
Matthias Meyer, managing director of Heller Machine Tools, says: "Close collaboration between a machine-tool company and a tooling specialist is the only way to really drive forward significant advances in metal cutting that lead to double-digit increases in productivity. It is very difficult for either party in isolation to develop solutions that achieve this level of improvement."
David Magnall, innovation partnership manager at Seco, adds: "We’ve been working closely with Heller for some time and have already jointly developed cutting strategies that achieved process improvements of 50% for one aerospace customer, as well as longer tool life. We’ll have representative components on the Heller stand, such as a titanium pylon, to illustrate the point, together with the standard and special tools that were deployed in their manufacture."
Featured at the show will be Heller4Industry, the group's worldwide drive towards the integration of its machine tools and controls into the Industry 4.0 environment. Within the multi-faceted portfolio is Heller4Operation, an easy-to-use, operator-oriented user interface. Touchscreen controls at the tool and workpiece loading stations promote rapid and easy operation, facilitate the manufacture of individualised products and help integrate production into the value chain.
The Heller4Services interface focuses on the transparency of digital manufacturing and maintenance. This module forms the basis for evaluating machine data and statistics to reduce downtime. Additionally, the visualisation of specific information, such as status displays of axes and spindles, enables users to predict wear and implement preventative maintenance to avoid unscheduled downtimes.
Heller4Performance includes workpiece-specific analysis for process optimisation and the extraction of real-time data over the internet, plus evaluation and graphical display in the cloud. For example, Heller4Performance could map tool paths and workpiece tolerances during parts of a cycle where tool wear is expected. That section of the sequence would be simulated on the machine without cutting metal, so the paths actually traversed by the tool could be recorded and compared with the workpiece design. The ability of the machine to actually produce the part to the required accuracy could then be determined.
Other innovations within this module include: optimisation of cutter positions inside a tool magazine to take into account the next workpiece to be machined; and modification of workpiece traverse speed according to its weight, allowing more dynamic performance when machining lighter parts.
The operator can choose to accept or reject these alterations, and the same applies to automatic feed control, whereby the user can set the limits between which the machine can autonomously adjust the override. Heller already has customers enjoying machining time reductions of up to 20% using this feature.
Another focus on the stand will be Siemens’ Sinumerik-Edge technology. Heller's approach to improving production is based on today's enhanced possibilities for extracting and evaluating more information from existing sensors, and making better use of that data using additional computing power in the control and Sinumerik-Edge. The latter is designed to improve production processes, for which the control manufacturer claims breakthroughs in four inter-related areas: the amount of high-frequency data that can be collected during machining; the architecture it has developed to process terabytes of data in just a few minutes; the semantic data model that defines how the information relates to the actual machining process; and the applications available for analysis, optimisation and feeding back meaningful results to the control.
Again in co-operation with Siemens, Heller has developed a new imaging method, comparable with magnetic resonance imaging, employing algorithms used in the medical engineering sector fed with signals from a machine tool. Without the need for cameras or additional sensors in the machine, the resulting high-resolution image of the workpiece is displayed on the operator's panel and on a PC web browser. The imaging method is allowing more meaningful results to be obtained via the high-quality comparison of workpiece and machining data.
A further example of Heller's partnership approach will be the presence, in the MTA's education and development zone, of the ‘ProfiTrainer’ training machine. Designed to raise the skill level of HMC operators, the fully configured, functional CNC machine – which is powered by a single-phase electrical supply – is likely to be of interest to industrial training establishments, colleges and schools. Larger OEMs and subcontractors may also choose to adopt the machine for operator training.
The 5-axis ProfiTrainer enables skills to be acquired without tying up a machine on the shop floor, which would result in lost production. Furthermore, the risk of a crash occurring on a real machine is eliminated, avoiding potential repair costs. Another benefit of the unit is that its small size encourages trainees to try out new ideas.
Fitted with an Industry 4.0-compatible operator panel, the latest CNC ProfiTrainer will feature a full Siemens 840D sl control with Sinumerik-Edge loaded with Heller4Industry functions, including Heller4Services. Newly introduced will be the ‘Analyse My Workpiece’ Umati interface, which offers simplified operation, trend analysis and service life estimation.
Additionally, integrated power monitoring (IPM-longterm) functionality will be demonstrated, which monitors parameters such as spindle load to prevent damage in the event of tool breakage by stopping the cycle, while KGT-Analysis provides ball-screw condition analytics to detect wear and prevent any unexpected interruptions to machining.