Smart Connectivity

February 24,2017
Smart Connectivity

Many machines on the factory floor are able to deliver an enormous amount of information that can increase their productivity exponentially. With Smart Connectivity, Agathon offers a comprehensive Industry 4.0 package.

Industry 4.0 is the industrial production of the future, which is happening now. It incorporates a range of convergent technologies all striving towards a common goal: to massively boost productivity. The deployed technology is directed to maximize the utilization rate of the individual machines, as well as the entire factory floor. Intelligent networking plays a central role. The company bundled all its related activities and solutions under the title “Smart Connectivity.”

“If I had only known earlier,” is a phrase that is often expressed when the discovery of a better way comes to light. That moment of discovery can be applied to industrial production. For example, “Had I known that the drives of my machine were in a critical state, I would have repaired them in time”. Taking action based on access to new information has its own rewards.

Utilizing the power of new information can deliver real gains on the factory floor. It starts with a key question: what can prevent the appropriate data from being made available so a customer always knows the current status of their machines, including their subsystems? The answer is simple: Nothing. The required technical prerequisites were there in the latest models of Agathon grinding machines: Leo, Dom or Evo are offered two optional interfaces: one basic and one advanced. The advanced interface allows for accessing up to 300 data elements.

The information that is made available comes from various areas of the control architecture. It could be as simple, yet as important, as alerting the user to an open door or confirming all components are functioning properly. The interface will also provide productivity evaluations over a defined period of time. Also, real-time data is readily available: Which job is in the queue? Which programs and tools have been set up?

The data is transmitted out via an OPC UA interface. OPC UA is a safe and open M2M communications protocol. Safety is granted by encryption and a certificate management. “Open” means that the interface runs on a cross-platform SOA (service oriented architecture) for all types of hardware and operating systems. This is central for comprehensive plant management.

What users have now is a machine that can tell the users all about their productivity. Plus, users can communicate directly with the machine through the interface. How can this information be used? It depends on the specific customer needs as well as their plant configuration. Agathon thought it is necessary to also offer them the instruments required for effectively analyzing the data.

Together with its partner bfa solutions ltd., Agathon offers a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) as a further option. The MES solution is called PiSolutions, which is compatible with all common ERP systems and also scales perfectly. This means that the company can select its OPC UA interface, depending on the customer's requirements (basic or advanced). This evaluation tool can be perfectly tailored to the customer’s configuration.

Depending on the number and types of machines on the floor, the solution only reads and evaluates the data that is essential for customers. They may invest in a basic server solution offering a broad spectrum of options in regards to data evaluation and reporting. They can determine the Overall Equipment Effectiveness and based on these findings put in place a plan of action for continuous process improvement. The effects of these corrective actions may also be monitored and traced. This reportedly is an excellent starter kit for companies that wish to gain solid insight into their production.

There are also companies with large and heterogeneous machine layouts. If they raise their production, even in the parts per thousand ranges, it will result in a significant increase in productivity of the entire floor. In such cases, our interface provides in-depth information so that the customer is able to carry out comprehensive statistical analyses.

The more processes that can be integrated within plant management the greater the overall benefit. Looking at the manufacturing of indexable insert grinding is the central process. If the productivity of a single Agathon machine can be maximized using data acquisition and evaluation, imagine the result of by linking that to the productivity of all the grinding machines. It can be applied to machines upstream and downstream such as sintering, coating, cleaning. Production is now significantly greater throughout the plant.

This is the core value for Agathon’s “Open” interface. A customer who invests in an Agathon machine for the first time, and is already using an existing MES, can easily integrate his new machine into the current Plant Management. However, the interface offered by us plus the MES solution, PiSolutions, will allow the integration of all machines, even those of other providers.

 “Smart Connectivity” allows for preventive maintenance and Teleservice. The customer that invests in an Agathon machine with OPC UA interface can delete this phrase from its vocabulary, at least in matters of grinding processes. A scheduled service appointment for a machine is usually faster and less expensive than an unplanned one.

Teleservice allows the customer to have a service technician access through the user interface and check for problems. Problems are diagnosed immediately.  Machine operators can take the required actions under the guidance of the technician. In other cases, the problem can be quickly analyzed and rectified with a field service appointment. In either case, overall productivity is maintained at a greater rate.

To summarize, “Smart Connectivity”, the core of Agathon’s Industry 4.0 maximizes productivity on three levels: Maximize the productivity of the individual machine; Raise the productivity of the entire factory floor, thanks to plant management; Maintain optimal machine performance with Teleservice diagnostics and preventative service appointments. According to the company, investing in the right Agathon machine will boost productivity and, naturally, profits.

Related Glossary Terms

  • grinding


    Machining operation in which material is removed from the workpiece by a powered abrasive wheel, stone, belt, paste, sheet, compound, slurry, etc. Takes various forms: surface grinding (creates flat and/or squared surfaces); cylindrical grinding (for external cylindrical and tapered shapes, fillets, undercuts, etc.); centerless grinding; chamfering; thread and form grinding; tool and cutter grinding; offhand grinding; lapping and polishing (grinding with extremely fine grits to create ultrasmooth surfaces); honing; and disc grinding.

  • indexable insert

    indexable insert

    Replaceable tool that clamps into a tool body, drill, mill or other cutter body designed to accommodate inserts. Most inserts are made of cemented carbide. Often they are coated with a hard material. Other insert materials are ceramic, cermet, polycrystalline cubic boron nitride and polycrystalline diamond. The insert is used until dull, then indexed, or turned, to expose a fresh cutting edge. When the entire insert is dull, it is usually discarded. Some inserts can be resharpened.

  • sintering


    Bonding of adjacent surfaces in a mass of particles by molecular or atomic attraction on heating at high temperatures below the melting temperature of any constituent in the material. Sintering strengthens and increases the density of a powder mass and recrystallizes powder metals.