11/21/2018 | 4 MINUTE READ

EMO 2019 – A Showcase of Technologies Driving Tomorrow’s Production

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The world’s largest metalworking show will be back in Germany September 16-21, 2019. Focusing on smart technologies, EMO Hannover 2019 will be showcasing solutions for connectivity and a new universal machine tool interface.

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Once IMTS closes in Chicago, preparations for EMO 2019 in Germany start to get into full swing. The world’s largest metalworking show will be back in Germany September 16-21, 2019. In order to focus on the development and implementation of Industry 4.0 functions, the event’s theme is “Smart technologies driving tomorrow's production!” The theme will be included in a special IoT in Production show and a new area for individual control technology, software and automation technology exhibitors.

"Industry is facing a period of significant upheaval," Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, executive director of EMO organizer VDW (German Machine Tool Builders' Association) said at an EMO Press Breakfast in September 2018 at IMTS in Chicago. “Industry 4.0/IoT is gaining momentum and is becoming a reality. Having an overarching network of people, plant and processes along the entire value chain is crucial for the creation of the intelligent factory. According to estimates by the international market research institute International Data Corporation, 30 billion endpoints could be networked worldwide by 2020.”

“Technologies for the intelligent factory will include innovations covering the entire field of production technology,” Dr. Schäfer says. “The aim of most of these is to raise productivity, improve quality and increase flexibility. Digitalization and intelligent networking in combination with many new developments—from Big Data, data analysis and data management, industrial security and industrial cloud services, process monitoring and predictive maintenance, artificial intelligence and machine learning through to the platform economy—are creating the basis for new business models which will enable customers and providers to reach the next level of productivity.”

VDW Presents OPC-UA Interface for Machine Tools

A precondition for the success of Industry 4.0 is the simple and low-cost connection of machines to higher-level IT systems. “Only then can data from different machine manufacturers with different control systems be transferred to higher-level systems such as ERP, PPS or into the cloud,” Dr. Schäfer says. “There they can be further processed or evaluated and thus form the basis of new services and products.”

“This connectivity is the key to all the added value and business models that the economy hopes Industry 4.0 will bring. Small and medium-sized companies in particular are counting on trouble-free participation in the new IoT developments, which will allow them to concentrate on their core business. The programming and development of data interfaces is not usually part of the job of a machine manufacturer.”

That is why VDW launched the Connectivity for Industry 4.0 project with eight well-known German machine tool manufacturers and all major control suppliers a little more than a year ago. The aim was to develop an interface standard—a common language for Industry 4.0 in the machine tool industry—in order to ensure neutral and open access.

At AMB 2018 in Stuttgart, VDW presented the first results of this project, which now has a name: “umati” (universal machine tool interface). “As a brand, it is open, future-oriented and internationally connectable,” says VDW Chairman Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop.

The first demo applications presented at AMB were developed by a core team of eight renowned machine tool suppliers together with the major German control manufacturers. Within one year they have established more than 100 parameters that serve as the basis for developing the common interface. According to Dr. Prokop, the working group was also able to define 21 use cases for the new standard interface for machine tools based on the open OPC UA communication protocol.

The companies involved in the initiative integrated an appropriately configured OPC server into their respective machine control system and were “able to connect to the respective communication partner and exchange data in a very short time,” Dr. Prokop says. “Up to now it has been very time-consuming and costly to get machines from different manufacturers to communicate with each other on a single production line.”

The first connections to various controls—for example for vertical lathes, rotary transfer machines, gear milling and grinding machines and for a complete turning/milling machining center—were be on display in Stuttgart. “Our purpose with these applications is to demonstrate that our solution can be used to implement robust systems in which data can reliably be exchanged with machine tools,” explains the VDW Chairman. “We ourselves are also keen to gain practical experience as early as possible and learn from the challenges which emerge.”

Internationalization Making Progress

Launched as a purely German working group, international cooperation has, however, always been the goal of the industry initiative. The initiative is attracting a great deal of attention worldwide. Talks are currently taking place with the American sister association AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, for example. Their open interface MTConnect is to be adapted to the umati concept where possible. Japan, China and South Korea have also expressed interest in the new standard. “We regularly report on the project progress at meetings of the European Machine Tool Association Cecimo, and are keen to include other interested companies in the initiative,” says Dr. Prokop.

Significantly, the VDW joined the OPC Foundation (the OPC UA sponsor) in June. “At the turn of the year, we will set up a Joint Working Group with the OPC Foundation,” Dr. Prokop says. “The international machine tool community will then be able to participate in revising and disseminating the standard. This feedback on customer needs from all over the world will bring us a further important step closer to our goal of creating a uniform, globally accepted connectivity standard.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in time for EMO Hannover 2019. “This means that the interface should be functional and available by then,” Dr. Schäfer says. “Our goal is to be able to present a complete implementation of the specification—to the extent that it is available by then—with a larger number of partners at the show. We hope that the first products will also be offered in which preconfigured OPC UA servers are integrated directly into the respective control units based on our specification.”

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