One of the biggest challenges in automation of production processes is safety.
All the production must take place in an environment that is completely safe especially for people as well as for devices, tools and peripheries that are responsible for the stability and continuity of the production process. From the point of view of the operators’ safety, the problems are unquestionable, there is no place for any compromise at the moment when there is a possibility of any damage to the health of the employee. This problem is very similar in terms of production devices. The process automation, increasing of efficiency, acceleration of production lines significantly increases the risk of an accident. In the case of metal forming, a small breakdown may occur at any time, which due to the specificity of metalworking may be deplorable for the whole production line.
Imagine that as a result of minor damage to a tool during the production process, which unfortunately constitutes an indispensable production risk, a rest of chipped steel goes onto the production line. At first we will have to deal with a very small breakdown, the consequence of which may be the suspension of the production process for a maximum of a few hours and the costs will be counted in a hundreds PLN. The problem is that the production process proceeds at the speed of several ten to even several hundred press strokes per minute. If there is no immediate stoppage of the process, that undesirable element can make catastrophic damage to the tools, presses, and peripheries. An unwanted element, moving along the production line, generates a new havoc on each hit of the press. Such a failure may lead to weekly breaks in deliveries, fateful repairs, potential failure of production equipment and, as a consequence, perturbation of the entire supply chain, which may ultimately have its finale in courts, financial penalties and costs or even the need for replacement investments.
How under such conditions one can increase efficiency and maintain safety?
Together with our partner in the field of automation and industrial electronics, we have developed an intelligent system for detecting unwanted objects in the area of the production tool. The new prevention system was a major technological challenge by detecting a change in the crossover parameter of the tool with a size comparable to that of a paper sheet thickness and, as a result of the detected discrepancy to immediately stop the production process. This will significantly increase the safety of the die tools, which at the moment remain vulnerable to a number of damages associated with micro shifts and physical contact with the material remaining after machining and increasing the safety of the entire production line. At present, the prototype system has been installed on one press, and two production tools have been equipped with a sensor set. If the implementation is successful, we plan to additionally equip five presses with a tool monitoring system in 2019 and arm a group of key tools for us and our clients.