The trend of modern flexible manufacturing systems towards a structure consisting of conglomerates of small, intelligent and flexible units supporting fast monitoring and control loops requires new solutions to guarantee reliable processes performed by these systems. It especially increases the demand for achieving and monitoring quality and performance by solutions integrated into intelligent systems like machine tools. Since disturbances in such flexible manufacturing systems cannot be eliminated completely, it is attempted to detect them and to deal with them with the help of monitoring systems. Sufficient increase in productivity and quality is only possible if the deficits of current monitoring systems, e.g. insufficient reliability, high degree of necessary operator efforts and lack of integration into the control of machine tools, can be overcome. The objective of SIMON is to develop a flexible and reliable process monitoring and control system for a wide range of applications in manufacturing, which:
- integrates all available sources of information, e.g. external sensors, data inherent to the NC and process models;
- is applicable to different machining processes and largely independent of the type of NC, and
- is suited for the use as an integrated part of a flexible manufacturing system and can be integrated into its control and quality management system
That way, the system
- reliably detects process disturbances, e.g. collision, tool breakage and tool wear,
- allows for automatically initiated appropriate response to process disturbances, and
- will ensure reliable manufacturing of high quality products in flexible manufacturing systems starting with the first workplace
For the SIMON project the milling process has been chosen for application, being an example of difficult to control complex machining operations with a wide range of applications. Nevertheless some project results such as improved sensors, the architecture of the flexible monitoring system and methodologies of flexible signal processing which will be developed within the project will be generic and portable to various types of machine tools as well as applicable for various controllers. The monitoring devices will be based on consistent models which allow for a type of process control and information integration that goes far beyond the present state-of-the-art technology. These models guarantee integrated logging of the current process state reliable modelling of expected process manifestations to determine process quality and performance and the initiation of adequate responses in case of disturbances. They will make use of modern sensor technology, innovative opportunities of control integration, intelligent information processing technologies and advanced user interface techniques.
The SIMON project will impact European manufacturing industry by improving information utilisation, flexibility, process reliability and product quality in flexible manufacturing systems. This will enable machine tool and control manufacturers to offer innovative products which are subject to a high demand.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts