4/15/2016 | 3 MINUTE READ

New Standard Enables Digital Manufacturing

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What seems to be a neat little function that saves engineers some time and a few headaches, is actually a crucial element in building a data infrastructure.


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Industry 4.0, digital manufacturing or future manufacturing are only some of the buzzwords that represent the latest trend in our industry. With the potential to drastically change manufacturing in a way we have not seen since the invention of the steam engine, this is one trend that has everyone talking.

While much of it sounds futuristic, we are often left wondering exactly what needs to happen to get us there. Whether this is the next industrial revolution or evolution, the one absolute necessary element is data. Without good—make that great—data, widespread digital manufacturing and all the benefits it promises will only remain a vision.

This is where ISO 13399 and other developing standards come into play. The cutting tool standard defines common definitions for attributes of cutting tools from multiple suppliers, essentially eliminating descriptions unique to a particular company’s products in favor of one common nomenclature.

For decades, all cutting tool suppliers, CAM suppliers, machine tool builders, and other software suppliers, had their own way of denominating and structuring the information about tools. It was absolutely impossible for even the biggest players in this industry to map all cutting tool data to all demands from various stakeholders with an interest in data. There was only one solution to this problem and that was to implement a standard for communication.

With ISO 13399, dimensions, features, parameters and parts are named and defined in a singular way. The standard accommodates new tools with multiple functions without the need to change the standard. The biggest benefit of it is that it defines each property by itself. In other words, properties have the same meaning regardless of the type of cutting tool described.

Therefore, ISO 13399 is a consistent way of communicating properties. It standardizes the information that describes tools instead of the actual cutting tool components. The standard enables even complex communication about items and assemblies, as well as multi-function tools. With the aid of digital tooling libraries such as Adveon and Siemens MRL that are enabled by the standard, companies can create tooling assemblies to be shown in 2D or 3D renderings that are subsequently imported into CAM software for simulations and setup.

What seems to be a neat little function that saves engineers some time and a few headaches, is actually a crucial element in building a data infrastructure for a connected and fully integrated manufacturing environment. More and more of these advanced functionalities in modern manufacturing systems heavily rely on access to a plethora of relevant information, both in pre- and post-machining phases as well as during the actual machining process. Information about available resources, such as tooling and setups, is only one of these elements, but a crucial one.

Software systems, such as CAD, CAM, CASE, PDM/EDM and other computer-aided technologies, are enabled to communicate much more seamlessly with each other; tooling input can be automated and instant instead of manual and slow. A users’ software can communicate with tooling suppliers by directly accessing updated tooling data from their sites.

Gone are the days of looking up information in catalogs, of painstakingly interpreting data to be able to transfer it from one system to another and worrying about how many times one has to check it to get it right.

This ISO 13399 standard provides cutting tool information in a neutral format. It is independent of any particular system or company nomenclature. With tools clearly defined according to a standard that all software can process, the quality of communication and electronic data exchange between systems will reach unprecedented levels, making the data gathering process more efficient. It optimizes the use of manufacturing resources, and it speeds up and improves the quality of the planning process of a new job, process or component.

Ultimately, ISO 13399 saves time and provides guaranteed data quality that systems and engineers can rely on. Together, with other crucial building blocks, it takes us one step closer to the future of digital manufacturing.