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Arbeitskreis Feinschneiden: Tackling challenges together and utilizing potential

Arbeitskreis Feinschneiden

Alongside cost-effectiveness and precision, industrial businesses are also facing the challenge of utilizing new technologies for their objectives. Hence, fineblanking companies need to expand their advantage over alternative technologies in order to cater to current trends such as higher-resistance sheet materials, geometrically highly complex forming components, environmentally friendly lubricants and digitization of the value-creation chain in the context of Industry 4.0.

Arbeitskreis Feinschneiden (fineblanking working group) – organized by WZL Aachen GMBH in collaboration with the tool machine laboratory WZL at RWTH Aachen University – is tackling these current challenges.

The aim of Arbeitskreis Feinschneiden is to generate a technological advantage through the targeted development of relevant research projects, with the aim of creating a long-term competitive advantage for members. The working group is also an active knowledge hub for lively exchanges of experiences among users, fineblanking producers, tool and materials manufacturers and lubricant-makers.

Arbeitskreis Feinschneiden – the fineblanking community
Thirty-six members from Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland have teamed up with the tool machine laboratory WZL at RWTH Aachen University to form the first research community on the topic of fineblanking. “We are delighted by the huge, positive resonance we’ve seen in the fineblanking industry, so in future we can work together to tackle the issues within the industry. It is precisely by bringing together experts from the various areas of fineblanking technology that we lay an excellent foundation for research,” explains Dr. Daniel Trauth, head of the working group and a senior engineer in the WZL’s Chair of Technology and Manufacturing Processes.

Tackling challenges – utilizing potential
In order to remain competitive in the market, the members of Arbeitskreis Feinschneiden are addressing current challenges. Every year, a research program is defined for Arbeitskreis Feinschneiden. Potential areas to be addressed include: alternative materials, fineblanking of stainless steel, numerical modeling, process design, tribology and surface design as well as fineblanking in the future – Fineblanking 4.0 in the context of the Internet of Production.

Fineblanking in the future – Internet of Production
The Internet of Production outlines Aachen’s perspective on the challenges of Industry 4.0. The overriding aim here is to make information securely available in real time at any time or place. Information is thus condensed into a powerful digital “shadow” of production that can be used in a variety of different ways. Precise, constant data analyses uncover patterns in production and result in forecasts that guide decision-making.

Infrastructure of the Internet of Production
Infrastructure of the Internet of Production

Systematic learning from the data that is obtained in the Internet of Production can offer fineblankers and partners considerable additional benefits. After all, this is precisely the way to achieve agile, highly iterative product development, such as the rapid, fault-free implementation of change requests in series production. The competitive advantage through aggregated information, obtained virtually in real time, supports users in achieving new forms of adaptation and agility. Arbeitskreis Feinschneiden is tackling the challenges of the Internet of Production and is currently highlighting the potential of new technologies for the traceability of individual components along the entire value-creation chain.

Assistance systems for Fineblanking 4.0
The core of the fourth industrial revolution is the Internet of Things and the linking up of new possibilities, resources, services and people in production in real time on the basis of cyber-physical systems. Despite the advancing possibilities for automation through cyber-physical production systems, fully automated solutions are not always worth pursuing in fineblanking technology. In order to be able to meet higher demands, such as those for safety components, human flexibility remains indispensable. In order to support people in their tasks, however, numerous assistance systems can now be utilized. At the WZL at RWTH Aachen, we are focusing on Fineblanking 4.0 in our development of assistance systems. We want to work with the members of the working group to integrate methods for the traceability of individual components into assistance systems, and make these usable for the purposes of the Internet of Production.

Sensor network as the basis of the assistance system for fineblanking
Sensor network as the basis of the assistance system for fineblanking

By means of a sensor network connected to the existing fineblanking system Feintool XFT 2500 speed, process state variables are recorded and processed by means of big data analyses. Implicit knowledge must be replaced transparently and objectively by data-driven process knowledge so that fineblankers can make well-founded decisions. The app-based provision of information on an end device makes it possible to analyze real-time data, regardless of place and time. Within the working group, efforts are made to continually develop this assistance system to meet the needs of fineblankers and partners in equal measure.

Fineblanking in the future – swarm data
One important step in the direction of Internet of Production for agile companies is the use of swarm data. By means of the swarm data approach, fineblanking plants then not only have the information that they recognize and process themselves using sensors, but are also able to share this information with other fineblanking plants by means of cloud solutions, among others. Thus, for example, services such as FEINmonitoring can make the relevant production more robust and reliable through comprehensive smart maintenance. In the long term, swarm data, when combined with machine learning components, is an indispensable prerequisite for the full realization of the smart factory. Here, Arbeitskreis Feinschneiden aims to work with the members to exhaust the potential of swarm data in fineblanking and thus to create a competitive advantage for members.

Swarm data
Swarm data for a smart factory


Shaping the future together
By bringing together the different areas of expertise of 36 companies, the technologically complex interdependencies involved in fineblanking can be researched and discussed at the highest level. This facilitates solid scientific research under industrial constraints. In particular, research into the Internet of Production with a focus on Fineblanking 4.0 makes it possible for us to shape the future actively together in the working group.

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