It’s a ‘win-win’ with the digital twin. Mike Richardson meets with Tebis’ marketing manager Michael Klocke to hear how aerospace manufacturers can better plan their production throughput using Tebis’ digital manufacturing solutions.
When I look back at my previous life working as a manufacturing engineer, it was a pleasure collaborating with German colleagues on one of my old employer’s many machine shopfloor improvement projects. Every morning would begin with my then German boss announcing at the team briefing: ‘we have to make a plan’. By the end of my all-to-brief secondment it was clear to me that the Germans like to plan things.
As I sit listening to Tebis’ marketing manager Michael Klocke, the old memories come flooding back, for he truly believes in planning. I should have guessed, but then again, the company is a global market and technology leader in the CAD/CAM and manufacturing execution systems (MES) sector.
Tebis’ products are used to design, plan and manufacture high-quality, high accuracy components. By its very nature, the aerospace industry places the highest demands on components, as well as on materials and part geometry. Safety requirements leave no room for error. Tebis says its CAD/CAM and MES systems support the manufacturers in meeting these stringent demands for the finished parts while remaining efficient.
“Tebis is one of the major players in the CAD/CAM and celebrated its 35th anniversary this year,” states Klocke. “We began by working with really large customers, such as BMW and Audi. We have originated from working in the automotive sector, so we are very adept at providing solutions to customers that have really difficult part production set-ups – and not necessarily mass production parts. One key area for us where we enjoy good contact is within the aerospace industry.
“Our philosophy centres on giving customers a wealth of technologies and solutions - all from a single source, Tebis. Aerospace manufacturers have the most demanding parts and difficult materials to machine. Machine an expensive part incorrectly, and there is no possibility of retrospectively correcting it afterwards. By using Tebis’ simulation and verification platform - which forms an integrated part of its CAD/CAM solution – you eradicate this problem.”
Tebis CAD/CAM can be used to program all machining operations, from 2.5 D to 5-axis simultaneous machining. Machining operations such as turning, milling, laser cutting and wire EDM are all controlled via a central Job Manager.
Today’s aerospace manufacturing teams have to think about how best to machine a part, what machining centre will offer the best results, what will be the maximum part rotation the machining centre can offer when running ‘done-in-one’ machining operations, what is the maximum spindle speed and torque required to remove material efficiently, what are the best cutting tools for certain machining operations, and what is the best method of clamping the part onto the machine table.
“CNC programmers can use our CAD/CAM verification and simulation package to decide which machine to put the part on, so that they can verify the kind of workholding methods required to clamp it. This is useful for parts that are machined in one setting and don’t always have a regular place to clamp from – particularly if the part is being prismatically machined from all sides.”
“This is what we offer: our customers can perform toolpath simulation and visualisation in advance so that they know exactly how the machining operation will perform. This kind of numerical control verification gives customers the guarantee that there won’t be any collision between the machine tool, the workholding and the machined part itself.”
A window into the future
Tebis claims its ProLeiS MES offers a foundation for Industry 4.0. Automatic manufacturing functions based on the principles of Industry 4.0 require a central information hub. The ProLeiS MES system lets users flexibly and effectively plan and control manufacturing projects in die and mould manufacturing. It means manufacturers always have control over their capacities and resources. ProLeiS also lets users organise and manage manufacturing data and connect the system to ERP systems as needed.
“The key feature of our MES solution is all about the planning,” Klocke explains. “If a customer has many different CNC machining centres manufacturing different types of parts, then they must ensure they have a good production control and planning system in place. Our take on this means giving them a reliable software tool that improves their machine tool spindle utilisation and uptime, 24/7.
“It is really important they know how long it will take to machine a part on a certain machine. It offers the ability to almost look into the future and see all the CNC machines running simultaneously and as a result, make more accurate estimates regarding how different batches of components can be introduced into a machining cell with what resources are currently being used.”
Maintaining the digital twin
Tebis enables complete, true-to-life digital simulation of the manufacturing environment, from the machine to the tools, clamping devices, and units. Virtual machines are needed to represent a customer’s machine in their Tebis CNC programming environment. These ensure safety in the CNC automation environment. Detailed digital twins of the customer’s actual machining centres and robots are created from Tebis’ large inventory of catalogue machines. The virtual model includes machine geometry, additional equipment, kinematics, limit switches, dynamic parameters for axes and drives and much more.
“Nowadays, it is really important to have a digital twin of your machining centre,” Klocke concludes, “because without it, you will have to perform many onerous try-outs of the part on the CNC machine itself every time, which could take days and become very expensive. We give our customers a ‘virtual’ opportunity to have their resources running at optimum speed and capacity.”