Making those solutions possible is digitization, the conversion of information into a digital format that can be understood by computer systems. Digitization establishes the foundation for cyber-physical systems.
GF Machining Solutions’ machines have already some features of such systems, which are capable of sensing and acting in the physical world, and “thinking” in the cyber world. That “thinking,” which includes planning, analyzing, modelling, memorizing, combining, and opti-
mizing in the cyber world, can then be fed back into the physical world of manufacturing. Examples are machine tools with intelligent vision units or that are connected to measure-ment machines delivering in-process characterization and error compensation, the GF Machining Solution’s T.R.U.E. (True Response to User Expectation) solution, and making self-optimizing manufacturing cells, the ultimate stage in the Industry 4.0 vision. Nevertheless, when installed in the customer environment, information does not flow smoothly in such systems due to the lack of interoperability and the dependence on human intervention.
“Our Industry 4.0 approach envisions a seamless, connected factory where cyber-physical systems communicate and collaborate with each other, but also, at a new level, with our cust-omers and employees,” Perez says.
“We are developing cyber-physical systems that enable the essential steps of continuous process improvement: plan, execute, sense, optimize,” he explains. “Integrated on different layers, from the shop floor to the logistics and human resource management systems that will interact autonomously with one another, the ‘smart factory’ will be highly intelligent: every facet will contribute to optimization of the overall factory.”
Perez said GF Machining Solutions’ engineers and customers will always play an active, decision-making role but, under Industry 4.0, they will be helped by new simulation and sensor-enriched monitoring tools, following up in real time and keeping traceable records
of the key process indicators: “This will save our customers time to innovate and expand their markets, and to meet the key requirements for making a profitable business in a competitive and volatile economic environment.”
“The high-level interaction of virtual mirrors of the part quality, such as our existing eTracking, with our experts’ knowledge, will define the first step in the architecture of a fully intelligent environment,” Perez explains. “In further steps, the systems will provide real-time, reconfigu-rable process-flow optimization with GF Machining Solutions’ embedded expertise. On the service side, the Division’s systems will target autonomy with remote system health and logistics management, reinforcing our business relationships with customers.”