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METAV 2016 to showcase all options for process optimisation

Frankfurt am Main, 18 August 2015. – The path of the workpiece from the design stage to the component in the manufacturing operations of the future runs with a harmonised data record along a process chain with the following building blocks: design, modelling, programming, simulation and production. The METAV 2016 in Düsseldorf from 23 to 27 February will showcase the challenges involved at each of these stations, and how they can be met and mastered.

Since Alfred Äpple has had his new smartphone, he can finally enjoy his holiday to the full: once a morning, early on he takes a look at the production operation back home, makes a corrective intervention here and there – and the rest of the day on the far-off Baltic Sea beach belongs to the family. Alfred Äpple, owner of a mid-tier component supplier firm in the Swabian Alb hills, has fed his state-of-the-art smartphone with all available apps that might in any way help in communicating and interacting with his production systems back home.

This means it’s easy for him to track the path of a component in full, from the original idea to the finished workpiece. Today, for example, he’s learned that his head designer has begun creating an innovative, highly complex safety component for the aviation industry. And he knows, after looking at the order data online, that the part has to be delivered in precisely one week, i.e. before he gets back from his holiday. So Alfred Äpple now enters a new era for his breakfast reading: a daily look into the process chain – the intelligent networking of machine tools and IT systems.

Harmonised data correctness throughout is vital
What one of these harmonised process chains might look like is informatively described by Eberhard Beck, Head of Control System Technology at Index-Werke GmbH & Co. KG, Esslingen: “The crucial factor in what we see as a harmonised CAD-CAM-CNC process chain is consistently valid and correct data throughout, from the CAD-based design process stage to the machining process in the CNC machine, in terms of syntax, format and function, plus consistently high data quality in regard to contouring accuracy, path accuracy, tolerance exploitation, and consistency(at contour transitions) for all process data involved and provided beyond the boundaries of the CAD-CAM-CNC systems.”

For a harmonised process chain, the machine tool and the IT system need not necessarily be networked directly. Direct networking of the production equipment and the IT infrastructure can prove helpful, e.g. through an accelerated and secure exchange of data, “but in itself is not sufficient for a harmonised process chain in the original sense of the term”.

On the path from what is at first only a virtual workpiece to an actual component along the process chain with building blocks for design, modelling, programming, simulation and production, all building blocks communicate both with one another and with the component being manufactured. Alfred Äpple is actively involved in this communication via his smartphone.

Building blocks for a CAD-CAM-CNC process chain, explains Eberhard Beck, “invariably include modules for design/modelling (CAD), programming (CAM) and simulation. In order to ensure an effective and thus above all cost-efficient process, however, simulation plays a certain key role”. This is because often CAD-CAM-CNC process chains are used for handling highly complex workpieces (e.g. 5-axis machining), for individualised machining of prototypes or for workpieces entailing extensive programming work. A certain error rate in programming cannot be ruled out here. Moreover, it has to be remembered that process chains work on the basis of target data. Therefore, “ultimately a target/actual comparison has to be performed with the machine using a simulation procedure, and before actual production is commenced, so that any errors in the program and the data can be detected in good time and eliminated”. This is essential for ensuring continuous, cost-efficient production.

The control system used is also a vital consideration here, of course. For Eberhard Beck, “basically, every CNC control system is process-chain-compliant. Any modifications required between the CAM system and the CNC control system are handled using a post-processor. Provided, of course, that the control system is fundamentally suited to the job profile concerned”. This, he adds, is because an improvement in the control system’s application-capability or suitability for its assigned purpose cannot be achieved by using a CAD/CAM/CNC chain.

Smooth flows of data require high-performance interfaces
Dr.-Ing. Oliver Gossel, Head of Sales Department at Röders GmbH, Soltau, concurs: “The right software, including the machine’s control system, plays a major role in interlinking a highly disparate spectrum of building blocks, enabling data to flow smoothly in all directions.” For this purpose, state-of-the-art, high-performance interfaces are indispensable. Besides the functionality involved, he adds, good maintainability is essential if the resultant complexity is to be mastered.

It cannot be unequivocally determined whether single-sourced complete-package solutions for process chains are useful. Röders’ Head of Sales Department Oliver Gossel says: “The future will belong to open systems, in which the customers select and combine individual building blocks (CAX, machine with control systems, automation and job manager) to suit their own particular needs.” Open systems are also amenable to expansion or modification in the future. Contrastingly, “complete-package solutions often constitute a compromise, in which restrictions have to be accepted”.

Index’s control system expert Eberhard Beck, by contrast, points out that “along a CAD-CAM-CNC process chain large and varyingly numerous amounts of data are transmitted and then processed beyond the boundaries of the systems and manufacturers concerned”. Cause-and-effect connections involving data, format, processing or transmission errors, he adds, are practically undetectable or unanalysable for the end-user. In the event of errors or nonconformities as a result from the process chain, it is almost impossible for the user, given the numerous different parties involved, to identify beyond doubt the party responsible. This means that as a result the end-user will obtain a properly running (but perhaps not optimal) system only after an exceptionally large outlay or, however, be “stuck with” a non-functional CAD-CAM-CNC solution”.

With a complete-package solution from a single source, he continues, there is at least a single responsibility for the output results from the CAD-CAM-CNC chain, a single party who can be held to accounts. This does not yet, however, guarantee that the workpiece designed in CAD and programmed in CAM will thus “come out of the machine” as a 1-to-1 copy. Because this, says Eberhard Beck, “is not inconsiderably dependent on the performative capabilities of the post-processor”. This is why, he continues, purchasing an all-inclusive solution covering both the machine and the CAD-CAM system including the post-processor, sourced from the machine’s manufacturer, offers “the most reliable and at the same time the most cost-efficient solution for using or adopting a CAD-CAM-CNC process chain”.

Simulation plays a key role here. It can, explains Eberhard Beck, “be run on very different bases, and with extremely disparate results: workpiece/machine simulation on the basis of CAM (interim) data, of G-Code imaging in the CAM system, on the basis of the real NC kernel or on the basis of the real control system and real control system parameterisation as a 1-to-1 copy of the genuine machine”. This latter, he adds, even permits direct interchange of real NC programs between the real machine (world) and the virtual world (machine), and, moreover, for example, enables a virtual target-actual comparison to be carried out in the simulation between the target tool data of the CAD-CAM-CNC chain and the actual data of the real tools even before the actual (real) machining process begins in the machine.

Röders’ Head of Sales Department Oliver Gossel takes a more cautious stance: “There are already quite a few stand-alone solutions up and running, such as collision studies for milling processes before actual machining. The critical factor here, however, is frequently cost-efficiency, since these solutions also cost valuable working time in addition to the capital investment costs. This means that given properly mastered tasks the virtual level can be dispensed with.”

For workshop-oriented mid-tier entrepreneurs like Alfred Äpple, too, he continues, a digitised, harmonised process chain certainly creates rationalisation potentials and competitive advantages. It must not be overlooked in this context, however, “that before the introduction of an automated process chain first of all the manufacturing processes concerned have to be dependably mastered”. For successful implementation, he says, it is of course vital “that all machinery manufacturers involved open up their interfaces”.

Index’s control system expert Eberhard Beck, too, sees advantages for mid-tier companies with their small series: “For example, the option for manufacturing workpieces that could not be produced with manual programming.” Rigorous and above all full-coverage use of a CAD-CAM-CNC chain opens up not only significantly expanded technological options but also a rationalisation potential in the production process that should not be underestimated. At Index, continues Eberhard Beck, “the CAD-CAM-CNC process chain has for years now been a constituent part of our product portfolio, and will, of course, also be offered and showcased at the METAV 2016”.

Röders GmbH, too, says Head of Sales Department Oliver Gossel, will at the METAV 2016 be exhibiting “options for implementing process chains in individual conversations, since here it’s unusual for one solution to resemble another, because each company has its own distinctive priorities”.

Process-reliability has to be assured
The question, though, of whether intelligently networked machines and processes can be dependably controlled with new human-interfacing and communication concepts like smartphones or tablets will probably not receive a definitive answer at the METAV 2016, either. To quote Eberhard Beck: “The advantages of both worlds will indubitably grow together successively, e.g. touch-control at the machine. However, the control system at the machine is primarily driven by safety and productivity. Smartphones and tablets can in specific subareas have a supportive effect, but are inherently unsuited for original control of machines and processes.”

Alfred Äpple doesn’t have to rely on this at all. The final day of his holiday has dawned, and his smartphone reports that the component whose path through the process chain he’s been tracking over the past few days will today be made ready for dispatch.

Author: Walter Frick, specialist journalist from Weikersheim


The METAV 2016 in Düsseldorf
The METAV 2016 – the 19th International Exhibition for Metalworking Technologies – will be held in Düsseldorf from 23 to 27 February. It showcases the entire spectrum of production technology. The principal focuses are machine tools, production systems, high-precision tools, automated material flows, computer technology, industrial electronics, and accessories, complemented by the new themes of Moulding, Medical, Additive Manufacturing and Quality, which are now permanently anchored in what are called “areas” with their own nomenclature in the METAV’s exhibition programme. The METAV’s target group for visitors includes all branches of industry that work metal, particularly machinery and plant manufacturers, the automotive industry and its component suppliers, aerospace, the electrical engineering industry, energy and medical technologies, tool and mould-making, plus metalworking and the craft sector.
Further information under www.metav.de


Index Group
The Index Group, together with its subsidiary Traub, produces CNC turning machines. With six production facilities and five international sales and service companies, plus 80 agencies, the Esslingen-based group of companies has a global presence. Index-Werke was founded in 1914 by Hermann Hahn, who in that year began producing automatic turret turning machines. Within four decades, more than 20,000 of these had already been sold. In 1975, Index began to produce multi-spindle automatic turning machines. A few years later, the firm went into CNC technology. Following the death of Eugen Hahn, the son of the firm’s founding father, 85 per cent of the stock was incorporated in a charitable foundation. In 1992, Index unveiled a new generation of turning-milling centres based on a modularised design concept. In 1997, Index took over the lathe manufacturer Traub Drehmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG from nearby Reichenbach/Fils, and integrated it into the Index Group as an autonomous subsidiary. Since 2002, Index has been offering multifunctional production centres into which different process technologies can be integrated in a single machine. The main customer groupings for Index’s turning machines arethe automotive industry and its component suppliers, the mechanical engineering sector, the electrical and electronic sectors, fluid technology producers and valve manufacturers.


For six generations now, Röders GmbH, Soltau, has been highly regarded by its customers for its prompt service and innovative products. There are three different basic lines of business: machinery manufacture for high-precision HSC milling and grinding machines, a state-of-the-art mould construction capability for PET bottle moulds, and the production of high-quality gift articles. When the present-day Managing Director Jürgen Röders took office, he prioritised the development of high-speed technology. In 1991, a machine was showcased at the Hanover Fair for the first time. In the subsequent years, the manufacture of HSC machines evolved into what is nowadays the firm’s biggest line of business, with subsidiaries of its own in the USA, China and Vietnam. Different manufacturing processes can be combined in the HSC machines. If required, the machines are automated using in-house solutions. More than 2,000 machines have been installed in 50 different countries.


Your contact persons

VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association)
Sylke Becker
Press and Public Relations
Corneliusstrasse 4
60325 Frankfurt am Main
Tel. +49 69 756081-33

Index-Werke GmbH & Co. KG
Hahn & Tessky
Eberhard Beck
Head of Control System Technology
Plochinger Strasse 92
73730 Esslingen
Tel. +49 711 3191-720


Röders GmbH
Dr.-Ing. Oliver Gossel
Vertriebsleiter HSC-Maschinen / Head of Sales Department HSC Machines
Scheibenstraße 6
29614 Soltau
Tel. +49 5191 603-470


Editorial Office Frick
Walter Frick
Hölderlinstraße 2
97990 Weikersheim
Tel. +49 7934 990021


You will find texts and pictures about the METAV 2016 on the internet under www.metav.dein the Press Service. You can also visit the METAV through our social media channels


Responsible for the content of this press release: Verein Deutscher Werkzeugmaschinenfabriken e.V.


Verein Deutscher Werkzeugmaschinenfabriken e.V.
Corneliusstraße 4
60325 Frankfurt am Main
+49 69 756081-33
+49 69 756081-11

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