Page 31 - MetalForming March 2019
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MetalForming/March 2019 29
accessed from a server, enabling all conditions to be viewed in real time, and assigned and managed based on current shop-floor
The ability to collect and maintain
accurate and actionable tool data rep- resents a huge transition from reactive to proactive maintenance. Going one step further, what if tool data could be integrated with actual maintenance itself? Technology now exists to harvest tool data and manage the entire sharp- ening process, according to Amedeo, who supplies another Amada example, the ID Togu tooling sharpener.
“It automates the grinding process in many ways,” he says. “To manage the sharpening intervals, as well as the amount of material removed from the punch, the ID Togu integrates with the ID Tooling database. Upon grinding, the system updates the tool-height data of the sharpened tool, then commu- nicates this information to the turret when the tool is scanned at the machine-loading station. This elimi- nates the need for manual tool-data entry at the control, ensuring accuracy
Fabrication: Automation
 Fabricators reacted, because we had no way to be proactive. First- generation machines had no capability to track the number of tool hits or, perhaps, sound an alarm at 100,000 hits to sharpen a 0.5-in. round tool.”
Waiting for the creation of bad parts—that’s an unfortunate strat- egy for identifying tooling issues, but the other end of the spectrum also causes problems, says Amedeo.
“Counterintuitively, sharpening a tool less frequently—waiting for it to dull and start pulling slugs or slivering—ultimately shortens tool life,” he says. “Sharpening a tool every 100,000 versus every 200,000 hits means removing less material from the punch tip, and ultimately increasing overall tool life, as more material must be removed
to sharpen excessively worn tools, as might be the case after 200,000 hits.”
Going Digital: New Tool for Tools
Today, punching machines take advantage of communications and automation advancements to track tooling, ensuring proper use, mainte- nance and replacement. Everything today seems to ride a digital trend, and punching machines are no exception. The proliferation of such technology truly allows fabricators to be proactive, not reactive.
Historically, as Amedeo notes, punching machines had difficulty try- ing to maintain a real-time directory of tooling, but today’s offerings provide monitoring systems that do just that. As an example, Amedeo notes the Amada ID Tooling System (AITS) that allows for monitoring and managing turret tooling inventory. AITS uses QR marking technology to capture and record all pertinent information—the tool’s location in the shop, number of times it’s been sharpened, tool height, etc. Fabricators can obtain this infor- mation from either a shop-floor machine control or an office PC,
Tool information stored in a database can communicate with equipment, such as this
grinding system. Upon grinding, the system updates the tool-height data of the sharp-
ened tool, then communicates this informa- tion to a turret when the tool is scanned at
the machine-loading station. “This elimi- nates the need for manual tool-data entry at the control, ensuring accuracy and elimi-
nating the possibility of manual-entry error,” says Craig Amedeo, CNC product manager for Amada America, Inc.
and eliminating the possibility of man- ual-entry error.”
Reduced Setup Time, Less Chance for Error
Automated tool storage, according to Amedeo, represents another area of punching-machine evolution.
“Fabricators that employ numerous tools across numerous jobs can benefit from this technology, “ he says. “Auto- mated tool storage and loading elimi- nates the chance of manual setup of a tool in an incorrect orientation, or installation of the wrong tool. Other- wise, tools break, which means costs for downtime and for tool replacement, and the possibility of machine damage. Tool-storage systems today send alarms for incorrectly installed tooling or installation of the wrong tool. All of these advancements take tool-chang- ing out of the hands of the operator, thus minimizing the opportunity for such errors and, overall, decreasing setup time.”
The advancements cited by Amedeo certainly assist in enabling fabricators to better plan maintenance, decrease job setup time, and reduce the chances for unplanned downtime, but such improvements also address skilled- labor challenges.
“Right now, everyone has trouble finding skilled labor, or any labor at all given low unemployment,” Amedeo says. “Monitoring tools and automating setup means not relying on manual labor or keeping highly trained person- nel busy with setup duties when other tasks might benefit from their experi- ence. With the skilled-labor supply so low, tool automation and monitoring provides an excellent option.” MF

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