Digital transformation: METAV showcasing latest Industry 4.0 and metrology trends
Dr. Heike Wenzel, CEO of Wenzel Group GmbH & Co. KG, Wiesthal, and Hermann Diebold, CEO of Helmut Diebold GmbH & Co. in Jungingen, report on the smart solutions their companies are displaying at METAV 2022.
“The turbulent times we are currently experiencing are posing major challenges for almost all companies,” explains Dr. Heike Wenzel. “2021 proved to be a successful business year overall, and this year we are remaining optimistic about further growth despite the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.” Away from the crises, the CEO of the Wenzel Group reports that the company has been working to clear a large backlog of projects since the beginning of 2022. She is now pleased to note, however, “…how many companies are starting to invest in future-proofing aspects such as e-mobility and sustainability”.
“Horrendous price rises” and procurement problems
For Hermann Diebold, the procurement of materials and electronic components is the biggest problem. This is exacerbated by “horrendous price rises that we have difficulty passing on to customers”. The pandemic hit the company hard because of the high levels of employee absence it caused, but this is now over. The only impact which the Ukraine war is having on the southern German company is the increased cost of energy. Diebold: “The trade fairs have started up again and we are meeting a lot of people. We’re waiting to see if the Covid numbers start to rise again as a result.”
At METAV 2022, both CEOs will be showcasing solutions that support users in digitalizing their factories. “Measurement technology for us is not only important and interesting – it is an absolutely central factor, especially in these times of digital transformation,” emphasizes CEO Wenzel. She describes the WM|Generator computer tool as a revolutionary development. It generates measuring programs automatically, and thus much more efficiently, from CAD models, and includes the product and manufacturing information.
No more errors thanks to built-in measurement and control technologyAutomation of the measurement process also plays a key role for Diebold. In Düsseldorf, for example, the company will be showing new devices for heat-shrinking tools. These are operated simply by tapping a touchscreen, thereby taking them beyond a purely data-driven Industry 4.0 solution. This single touch starts the process which is then taken over by the built-in measurement and control technology. The device detects the tool contour and automatically regulates the energy input and the exposure time.
“Triggered by a single touch, the process is fully automated and error-free,” Diebold says. “This makes for genuine sustainability, as only the minimum amount of electrical energy is consumed. A further new departure is that the tools are now protected from damage.”
Real-time online measurement – and with balancing machines
The Düsseldorf trade fair is also spotlighting the ongoing trend towards online and (preferably) real-time measurement. Four years ago, the Bavaria-based Wenzel Group developed real-time software for the analysis of measuring tasks and the related machines. “The WM|SYS Analyzer offers full data transparency for measuring machines and measuring environments,” says CEO Wenzel. “Authorized users are provided with all necessary real-time information in an attractive interface.”
Diebold, too, is aware of the demand for online measurement. Here, the southern German company offers its customers quality checks of its Diebold tool holding fixtures. “The tool holding fixtures are measured electronically here at Diebold, with each individual part receiving a digital measurement report. This allows the customer to see which HSK tapers meet the quality standards and which do not.”
The other solution is a new range of machines for balancing tools and grinding wheels. Diebold: “Our decades of experience in tool manufacturing and spindle construction have enabled us to develop digitalized balancing machines that measure with significantly greater more accuracy than existing products on the market.”
“Spring trade fairs are good indicators of the current situation”
Interview: Markus Heseding, Managing Director of VDMA Measuring and Testing Technology, Frankfurt am Main
Mr. Heseding, what are the biggest challenges facing companies at the moment? Do they include the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
Markus Heseding: Our VDMA member surveys on the current situation show that 97 percent of engineering companies are affected at least indirectly by the Russia-Ukraine war. The current conflict is thus exacerbating the situation by creating problems in the supply chain. We are experiencing bottlenecks, especially in electronic components, and this at a time of increasing digitalization. Companies in the length measurement sector do not seem to be suffering from these problems yet. 70 percent of them stated that order levels in April were higher than in the previous year. The overall climate for the industry is challenging. The spring trade fairs are good indicators of the demand levels.
How are metrology solutions contributing to the current trend towards digitalization in factories and what is on show here at METAV 2022?
Markus Heseding: The companies in the field of length measurement technology have developed an OPC UA Companion Specification for geometric measurement systems. This has been published for comment as VDMA Standard Sheet 40210. It enables the smart integration of measuring systems into digital manufacturing processes. Experts in this field will be on hand on our METAV stand. Practical applications will be presented under the umati brand on a separate stand. The standardized OPC UA interface allows live data to be accessed directly from measuring machines at the exhibition and used via dashboards.
Are you also registering demand for online – even real-time – measurement?
Markus Heseding: Metrology is moving increasingly out of the measurement lab and into manufacturing. This requires automated measurement, standardized interfaces, keyword OPC UA, feedback of the measurement results to the production control and ideally to the production machine itself. These closed-loop solutions are set to increase and they can be seen on our member companies’ stands.
Author: Nikolaus Fecht, Specialized Journalist from Gelsenkirchen
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