Rethinking Manufacturing with Digital Knowledge

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The idea that there is a serious shortage of skilled workers for many manufacturing jobs is long beyond debate. As many thousands of machinists make their way toward well-earned retirements, how many recognize how much those jobs have shifted toward acquiring, using and storing machining knowledge digitally?

We have taken on the challenge of changing the national mindset toward manufacturing with (what else?) tools. If we know the majority of Americans see manufacturing as an outdated, labor-intensive, dead-end career choice, we need to demonstrate how our business today exemplifies the most sophisticated industrial technology and superior career opportunities vital to America and a new generation of digital-savvy talent.

Many traditional tooling suppliers are in a feeding frenzy of digitizing their catalogs. Most often, the result is saved bookshelf space, and the ability to buy tools via email as opposed to in person. Kennametal has gone much further, taking not only its catalog (tens of thousands of tools), but 75-plus years of process knowledge (how they best work) and turning it into a powerful, cloud-enabled digital knowledge stream that is quickly gaining advocates and partners and virtually reinventing how manufacturing gets done. We call it NOVO.

Responding to user requests, NOVO defines machining sequences through an advisor, selects and ranks the best tools, builds assemblies, downloads CAD graphic models for simulations and process planning, and obtains application parameters in minutes. Process planners and manufacturing engineers will tell you this takes many hours of sourcing product and process literature. The system also provides process technical and application data, including speed and feed recommendations and inventory availability.

Selecting the right tools is important, but NOVO goes much further, and automatically provides the ideal sequence of operations to produce the desired feature within the specified tolerances. For example, if you need to drill a tight-tolerance deep hole with an entry angle, the software recommends not only the drill, but also the pilot drill and the end mill to spot-face the inclined surface prior to drilling. Users can “assemble” a holder, an adapter and inserts in seconds and load the assembly into their CAM or other programming software. And since NOVO functionality is delivered on cloud-based technology, it always offers the most current version of the truth.

So this system significantly improves process planning and error proofing. Great, but it doesn’t stop there. NOVO furthermore drives new efficiencies in CAM, machining simulations, presetting, actual machining, inventory management and e-commerce by integrating with related software solutions. All of the cloud-based data is delivered in ISO13399 format so it can be easily shared. 

NOVO expertise is already being used by such partners as DP Technology for loading accurate tool data into Esprit CAM assemblies and Zoller for improved presetting. Improved tool and process knowledge is definitely at the heart of improved manufacturing on many levels. This is just the beginning.

With the new Version 1.7 for PCs and tablets, by entering basic information for your shop’s machine tools, such as maximum power, maximum spindle speed and maximum torque, a new “My Machines” button will take NOVO tooling recommendations and optimize them for your specific machine conditions. Sharing is a critical component of this software system. Both machines and tooling jobs can be shared across multiple users, both internally for your shop and externally for customers.

We believe this system is a significant new tool that is creating new work habits that will result in new expectations for how products are created. Open platforms such as NOVO keep winning in the marketplace because they make it easy for companies to do exactly that – rethink how work gets done and then go out and do it. This is very exciting for a new generation of makers.