Pilot 4: Smart machining tools and milling machines

Nicolás Correa supplies CNC milling machines for high-productivity sectors such as aeronautics, mold and dies, energy and capital goods. These sectors demand increasingly precise machines with more features and increase of productivity. Improved availability and reliability of machines, with reduced maintenance times and advanced capabilities to evaluate both machine condition and work performance in real time are in particular requested features.

The milling head is one of the critical components influencing machine performance. The patented Nicolas Correa milling head is a complex component that includes many precise elements and complex mechatronics. Classic methods to measure the performance of the milling head and its correct operation require the use of wired sensors, which are difficult to implement due to the rotation and movement of the head bodies. The use of wireless sensors opens new possibilities to locate sensors at such difficult positions.

The main added values of adding this new wireless sensors are:

  • Reduction of machine downtimes due to the possibility to monitor critical parts of the head
  • Send alarms to PLC and CNC to avoid worse failures before its occurs.
  • Increase in life-time of the milling head and its components
  • Increase the performance of the machining process due to:
    • the ability to improve thermal compensation in machine geometry
    • Open the ability to perform vibration analysis,collision-moni­toring, or detect problems in the tool used.

A set of wireless smart sensors capable of gathering real-time information about machine’s milling head performance will be developed for use in Correa milling heads using I-MECH building blocks. This set will include wireless temperature probes, proximity sensors, accelerometer based vibration sensors and embedded electronics to process the data. The I-MECH approach will enable concepts like interoperability, virtualization, decentralization and real-time capability by equipping the motion control system with safe and secure communication capabilities using Industry 4.0 principles to facilitate the smart factory. The following actions are to be executed in real time based on the information gathered with these sensors and processed through the developed algorithms:

  • Online monitoring of head function
  • Transmission of alarms and warnings to the CNC/PLC of the milling machine
  • Definition of corrective actions for damping detected problems.