Digitization in the die casting technology enables process optimization
by Christiane Weiland
Different digitization activities enable die casting foundries to make their working processes more efficient with respect to costs and productivity. Moreover, die casting foundries can exploit the obtained data and thus open up further business fields.
The terms "Digitization" and "Industry 4.0", which are continuously mentioned in the media, stand, simply said, for the networking of machines and processes with information and communication technologies that transmit and process large amounts of data at high speed. A key role here is played by the internet. The "Forum Industrie 4.0" organized by the German Engineering Federation VDMA explains on its homepage that digitalization will affect and shape all sectors of industry. The forum, in which the national foundry industry is represented by the VDMA/BDG working group “Gießerei 4.0” (Foundry 4.0), offers publications also in English on Industry 4.0 and points out that the one right solution does not exist: “Be it a revolution or an evolutionary process – each and every company must find its path to Industry 4.0” . Thus, also die casting foundries are faced with the question of which digitization activities make individual sense in order to work more cost-efficiently, to remain competitive and to be able to offer new services and added values.
Suppliers to the die casting industry provide digital technology that makes the most of machinery performance. According to Stuart Bashford, who is responsible for the digitization strategy of the die casting machine construction company Bühler, many of the company's customers are interested in digitization activities that can reduce unplanned downtime – and the financial losses linked to it: "Using our machine-learning algorithms, for example, we can predict where and when failures will occur. This enables customers to schedule maintenance activities around production schedules without interruption."
Bühler's "Predictive Analytics" method is based on the analysis of data which are supplied from various sensors installed inside a die casting cell and enables to monitor the performance in real-time. Anomalies, poor performance and developments are revealed and it is possible to predict where a failure is likely to occur before it actually occurs. The data analysis can be carried out in the cloud made available from Bühler or in the user’s own network . For all types of die casting machines, the Cast Quality Control System (CQC) from Electronics GmbH is suitable, for example. The universally applicable measuring and monitoring system is also based on sensors that are installed at certain points of the die casting cell and measure various functions such as the clamping cylinder pressure, the plunger movements, the movements of the mould during the injection process and the deairing of die casting tools. Via the clamping cylinder pressure, e.g., it is possible to control the clamping force and to keep it constant with the result that the mould and machine load is uniform. The machine and process data collected by sensors during production provide not only indications of the technical condition of production systems, but ultimately help to optimize and sustainably increase the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).
Source and Photo: Euroguss