Sharpening machines communicate thanks to IoT gateway 2018-09-19

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Grinding and erosion machine specialist VOLLMER is driving the expansion of Industry 4.0 and IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. A key element is the VOLLMER IoT gateway, which makes it possible to exchange data between sharpening machines and different IoT platforms. The IoT gateway is based on open-source standards and can be used with any platform. VOLLMER has successfully tested the data exchange on the "GROB-NET4Industry" IoT platform, which was developed by globally active machine builder GROB-WERKE. The company aims to improve the use, efficiency and maintenance of VOLLMER sharpening machines through IoT solutions.

"Our aim is to implement uniform standards for IoT solutions to further promote the topic of Industry 4.0, while working together with partners from the mechanical engineering sector," explains Dr Stefan Brand, CEO of VOLLMER in Biberach. "The VOLLMER IoT gateway opens the door to an interconnected world of data for our sharpening machines. Since it is compatible with different platforms, our customers can individually integrate it into their machinery."

IoT gateway opens the door to Industry 4.0
The VOLLMER IoT solutions are developed based on open-source standards and can be used with any platform. The key to an interconnected world of data at the Biberach-based machine builder is the VOLLMER IoT gateway. This component combines hardware and software elements in order to visualise and process digital data from VOLLMER machines such as the VGrind 360 tool grinding machine or the VPulse 500 and QXD 250 erosion machines.

Open to different protocols and applications
The VOLLMER IoT gateway supports protocols such as MTConnect, OPC UA and MQTT. These protocols make it possible for customers to transfer data using standardised and manufacturer-independent communication channels. While MTConnect is mainly used in North America, OPC UA has become established among European machine and plant builders.

In order to develop individual customer solutions, the IoT gateway is equipped with Node-RED, a web-based program that makes it possible to represent specific evaluations and visualisations graphically and enables customer-specific data output. VOLLMER also offers its own dashboard for visualising machine data to companies that want to dip their toes into digitisation.

Tested on the GROB IoT platform
In future, the VOLLMER IoT gateway is intended to not only record and analyse machine data, but also to upload it to the cloud. This will make it possible to draw conclusions on machine utilisation through analyses in the cloud, for example, regardless of whether you are manufacturing carbide tools or PCD (polycrystalline diamond) tools.

VOLLMER has explored the benefits of Industry 4.0 and IoT together with industrial partners from the German Machine Tool Builder's Association (VDW). During this exploration period, the company formed a partnership with globally active machine builder GROB-WERKE, who developed the "GROB-NET4Industry" IoT platform. VOLLMER successfully tested the networking of its machines using this platform. GROB-WERKE, headquartered in Mindelheim, has integrated different modules in its platform, which connect production processes and enable paperless communication.

"Thanks to web technologies, our platform creates a high level of cross-plant transparency throughout the entire production process," says Emil Nigl, GROB-NET4Industry Pre-Sales Consultant at GROB-WERKE GmbH & Co. KG. "We expect that with cloud-based IoT solutions, productivity can be increased by up to  30%. Industry 4.0 plays a particularly important role for growth and competitiveness in machine building – both nationally and globally."

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