Today's machines offer fabricators the ability to monitor the health and efficiency if a laser cutting machine in real time.Click image to enlargeLaser systems run on sophisticated software, many of which are Industry 4.0 ready, able to connect to ERP and other management systems, allowing fabricators to monitor processes remotely.

 

 “Our laser cutting machines are equipped with a modern touch-screen controller that is linked to a central database where all production-relevant data (“big data”) is stored, including part import over work preparation/engineering to final production data, production history, workload and KPI (key performance indicators),” says LVD’s Colle. “This allows a seamless digital transfer of production data back and forth from a shop’s management systems to the shop floor; a digital, paperless production flow that streamlines the fabrication process and makes the smart factory possible.” 

Such tools are designed to improve process efficiencies and to give managers the ability to monitor parts through the production process. 

“What Amada’s VPSS3i system does is allow us to take a larger view. We can look down the processes and see that there’s some available time to where, if you were to shuffle things around on the front end, we can keep all processes flowing efficiently,” says Diehl. “It ties all of your machines together, looks at the workloads and allows fabricators to balance for schedules.”

Self-monitoring capabilities on today's lasers means they're Industry 4.0 ready for the smarter factories of the future.Click image to enlargeThe most sophisticated aspect of modern software is their self-monitoring capabilities. 

“In the world of Mazak, all our laser products are now standard with monitoring capabilities,” says Bohlen. “In other words, we talk IoT or Industry 4.0. All our Mazak lasers are equipped from the factory with connectivity. MT connect is the Bluetooth technology of machine tools. This allows us to have a universally accepted protocol as to how you can connect to the laser and how you can monitor it, not just for error messages or whether the machine is  running or not running, but monitoring machine metrics, performing preventative maintenance protocols, productivity, measuring OEE, and measuring your equipment efficiency. All our lasers have this functionality. That’s big because two years ago I would not have said that.” 

The ability to monitor the health and efficiency of a machine in real time is crucial to getting the most out of the machine.

“A lot of that has to do with our ability to remotely access a machine or receive live feedback from the machine from a diagnostic standpoint,” explains Diehl. “We’re able to detect soft alarms, parameters that are set up within the background and will send us notifications before it’s even visible to the end user to notify us that there may be a maintenance issue starting to occur on a machine. In many examples, we’ve been able to send a tech out before the customer was even aware that there were any problems and, in doing so, prevented any damage to the machines.”

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