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XXL computed tomography: a new dimension in X-ray analysis

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For the first time, it is now possible to analyze even very large objects with X-ray technology. XXL computed tomography produces high-resolution, high-contrast images in 3D. The technology enables, for example, the analysis of electric cars after a crash test. Historical relics can also be examined – and even a dinosaur skull.
Computed tomography with X-rays is nowadays playing an important role even outside of medicine. For example, for product development for industrial applications. However, computed tomography has so far been limited to smaller and simpler objects, especially in the field of high energy, due to unavailable suitable reconstruction and correction algorithms and sensors. The existing large CT systems are severely limited in their scope of functions for large objects.
Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS have now made significant progress in this regard. Michael Salamon, Nils Reims and Dr. Michael Böhnel have developed a technology that also illuminates very large objects and generates high-resolution 3D images.
As an X-ray source, the researchers use a linear accelerator with nine mega-electron volts (MeV) and combine it with an X-ray camera that works with a sensitive length of four meters and 10,000 pixels. For the first time, objects with a diameter of 3.20 meters and a height of five meters can be recorded with three-dimensional X-rays – special technology in which a large object is recorded in parts also allows the scanning of even larger objects. This makes the system the currently largest CT system in the world.
The objects are rotated on a heavy duty turntable. The camera and the radiation source scan the object synchronously in vertical motion, line by line. Due to the rotation of the turntable, the camera records many viewing angles, thereby creating the basis for the three-dimensional representation.

Crash tests in X-ray images

With the XXL-CT, electric cars, for example, can be analyzed after a crash test. Previously, the objects had to be disassembled in a time-consuming process in order to analyze the structure and inner workings. Non-destructive X-ray inspection now makes it possible to perform a detailed analysis of the structure and materials of the object that were previously inaccessible, such as entire battery modules. The strong X-rays even make structures in densely packed batteries visible.

The quality of the 3D images has impressed even skeptics. Group Manager Salamon explains: «Previously, it was thought that high-energy structures would no longer be recognizable, since low-absorption materials tend to be overshadowed by highabsorption ones. The common opinion was that a lot of KV turns everything gray. With our development, we’ve proven the opposite».
In order to maintain the required quality of the 3D X-ray image, the researchers had to work on further innovations in addition to the linear accelerator and the large line X-ray camera. Together with their industrial partner MT Mechatronics, they have developed a design that enables extremely precise positioning even with objects weighing several tons. The processing of the X-ray data has also been optimized such that it can be automated with as little user interaction as possible, thereby enabling future use in the industrial environment.

Inspection of freight containers

Another application example is the inspection of sea freight containers. Many freight containers are already X-rayed in ports, but only in two dimensions. Thanks to 3D X-ray technology, even small objects inside the containers become clearly visible. Especially for security agencies which inspect freight containers for explosives or weapons, as well as for customs authorities that are looking for contraband, the IIS technology provides a decisive added value.
In addition to its use in industry, XXL computed tomography opens up many more applications. As a result, historical objects such as musical instruments for which cutting open and disassembling is out of the question can be X-rayed. In a particularly spectacular action, the Fraunhofer specialists scanned a 65-million-year-old dinosaur skull. The skull of the Tyrannosaurus Rex remained in a box during the X-ray procedure, together with the surrounding soil in which the paleontologists had found it.

The Fraunhofer research team is already planning the next step: in a gantry CT, linear accelerator and camera are to circle around the object. The object itself remains still and does not have to be positioned vertically. A prototype is currently being developed in cooperation with MT Mechatronics.

EuroBLECH 2018 rewards 5 businesses in this year’s “Step into the digital reality” online competition

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EuroBLECH 2016 Award Winners
EuroBLECH 2016 Award Winners

For the third time, outstanding organisations and companies in the sheet metal working industry are invited to enter the EuroBLECH 2018 online competition in five categories. Recognition will be given for best practice, innovation, excellence and outstanding performance. Five winners, one in each category, will be selected by professionals in the sheet metal working industry via an online voting, starting in September.

This year’s “Step into the digital reality” competition engages the businesses in digital and automated processes. The five categories stand for late-breaking issues in the digital context of the sheet metal working industry: The first category ‘Digital Transformation’ is open to businesses with excellent ability in applying smart manufacturing methods. The second one, ’25 EuroBLECH shows’, will select the funniest EuroBLECH story, either from visitors or exhibitors who participated in EuroBLECH over its long history. ‘Cyber Security’ as the third category highlights the importance of secure data exchange within a production environment. The fourth category is ‘Best Start-up” and will reward new businesses for their outstanding performance. Pioneers in lightweight and component design for sheet metal working are invited to enter the fifth and last category, “E-Mobility”. The five succeeding businesses will be formally presented with an award and certificate during a ceremony at EuroBLECH 2018. The winners will also be announced on the EuroBLECH website. The online competition is now open to all companies or organisations from all over the world in the sheet metal working industry if they match the requirements of at least one category and they are setting an extraordinary example in one of these categories. The closing date for entries is 31 August 2018. After that, the entries will be published on the EuroBLECH website and the voting will start. The sheet metal working community can select their favourite entry in each category by an online voting system, with the voting closing on 30th September. At the award ceremony during EuroBLECH 2018 on 24 October, the winners will officially be announced and receive their prize. The entries from all participants will also be published on the EuroBLECH website which is used regularly as an information platform by professionals in the sheet metal working industry.

EuroBLECH’s Profile

EuroBLECH is the world’s leading exhibition for the sheet metal working industry and takes place 23 – 26 October 2018 in Hanover, Germany. The exhibition functions as a global platform for professionals from the whole sheet metal working industry to meet and discuss late-breaking innovations, current developments and new products. The exhibition covers the entire sheet metal working technology chain: sheet metal, semi-finished and finished products, handling, separation, forming, flexible sheet metal working, joining, additive manufacturing, welding and surface treatment, processing of hybrid structures, tools, quality control, CAD/CAM/CIM systems and R&D. The show targets all sheet metal working specialists at every management level in small and medium-sized companies as well as large enterprises. Visitors include engineers, production managers, quality managers, buyers, manufacturers, technical directors and experts in associations and R&D. Around 1,500 exhibitors from 40 countries are expected to present their latest developments and systems for sheet metal working as well as conventional machines on a net exhibition space of around 89,000m².

Automated and customized

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The foUrth industrial revolution issues committing challenges to foundries and solution providers. the market more and more often asks for almost customized high-quality products. to grant them, the preliminary condition is an effectiVe integration of heterogeneous and efficient technologies.

Roberto Carminati

Claudio Morbi, founder of Brescia brand Stain, which for over twenty-five years has developed and supplied Mes (Manufacturing execution system) software solutions, has recently taken over the headlines also in virtue of an original interview. The theme of that context was the so-called pizza Margherita paradox. In the third millennium, not only that Italian delight that has conquered the world can be ordered in Internet and delivered on the house door in the wished times. Its quality can also be commented, with a slice still in our hands, with a potentially endless number of other tasters, we daresay live. A similar rapidity – here the paradox – seems to concern industrial processes to a much lower extent and more sporadically, and specifically those of foundry and metallurgy, historical partners of Stain. In this ambit – this is the opinion of Morbi –data are collected with excessive slowness and processed superficially or incorrectly, thus generating hidden costs that finally cause a neat loss of competitiveness. For the good fortune of the made in Italy, and naturally of the software house itself, the outcry stirred by the Industry 4.0 issue and – why not? – also by the shower of incentives and facilitations assured by Calenda Plan has contributed in partially changing this scenario. Manufacturing companies’ awareness of innovation is rising and results are consolidated, too.

Randomly

Certainly, especially when we refer to a foundry industry that, mainly in induced activities, is extremely variegated and pulverized, generalizing is impossible. However, it is undoubted that something is changing. «What I would like to say – started explaining Claudio Morbi – is that the attention level is notably rising: entrepreneurs and managers are finally understanding the digitalization advantages fully. It is hard to say whether are more numerous those that are proceeding to the upgrading, in the light of a precise strategy, seizing the opportunity of creating higher efficiency, or the others. That is to say, those that at present just take advantage of hyper -amortizations». Nevertheless, one of these two different typologies of entrepreneurial reality is probably facing a rosier future, also because – or mainly because – its will of changing to progress is fruit of a targeted strategy, which is the essential preliminary condition. «Those pursuing a real and long-lasting improvement – added Morbi – choose, buy and implement applicative instruments that guide them in the direction of a real digitalization of workflows and that can support them to reach the most important absolute target, i.e. an optimized information management. Because – and this is a direct corollary of the pizza paradox- the availability of enormous amounts of data is not all. On the contrary. The datum, if it remains an end in itself, is scarcely useful. It must be correctly interpreted and be the base, the certain measure for a constant organizational improvement».

Claudio Morbi

« Those pursuing a real and long-lasting improvement – added Morbi – choose, buy and implement applicative instruments that guide them in the direction of a real digitalization of workflows and that can support them to reach the most important absolute target, i.e. an optimized information management. Because the availability of enormous amounts of data is not all. On the contrary. The datum, if it remains an end in itself, is scarcely useful. It must be correctly interpreted and be the base, the certain measure for a constant organizational improvement».

Target: zero repetitiveness

Certainly, neither software producers nor market trends are asking foundries to cross Rubicon and to provide for such a metamorphosis. They are customers themselves, especially when they are big international Groups, whose requirements of undisputed quality are becoming increasingly pressing and strict in time. That is not all. «Industry and markets are assuming a new image that was unknown until some years ago – pointed out Morbi – and they privilege refined and customized machining, instead of repetitive and volume manufacturing. This is the core of 4.0 competitiveness. Big batches consisting of millions of pieces, needing relatively easy manufacturing, are no longer the central issue and also services should be customized under certain respects, together with products. Consequently, to maintain margins and competitiveness, processes must be controlled and monitored according to some determinate parameters». It seems that Italian metallurgy is accepting the challenge and duly answering to the call. «They are not unprepared to deal with the game », it is the impression of Stain founder, «and not fortuitously is rising the adoption of technological solutions explicitly oriented to the management of certain data, in real time, to schedule and to optimize machining times and processes». In the long debate on the fourth industrial revolution, some ambiguities have not missed and sometimes the decisive role of software and of intelligences, central in the course towards the finishing line of the process digitalization, has not been sufficiently clarified. Neither all false myths have been discredited. Stain, for its part, intends to assure that customers companies and the so-called prospects can concretely assess criticalities and benefits from such shift.

Training on the field

To do that, simultaneously with important exhibition events, it organized (and the idea is to go on doing that) demo units of integrated foundry processes including the phases that go from the entry of materials until the final metrological inspective test of each piece. The choice of making prospects meet the most fidelized users derives from the belief that only the concrete already implemented experiences of Industry 4.0 can constitute an example to give birth to further as concrete experimentations. To obtain a waste reduction in companies and to improve results, hand in hand with the excellence of manufactured goods, companies’ confidence in innovation is the typical “conditio sine qua non”. Concerning instead false myths, we have often heard debates about the possibility of gaining access to an effective machine data collection for predictive maintenance through sensors, also duly upgrading and equipping old-generation plants. Morbi has partly disagreed: «The predictive maintenance – he specified – optimally matches machines devised to be predictive. On the contrary, the sensors installed on obsolete machines risk of causing damages instead of bringing the hoped benefits. A 15 years old press can certainly be improved but the precision of result longed for by users cannot be taken for granted. Well, some technologies are integrated in native manner but the problem often resides in a superficial management of the ordinary maintenance». In other words, in aspiring to be 4.0 when one has neither succeeded in being fully 3.0; because innovation «is an investment like another and then it must be essentially profitable. Therefore, it must be made with awareness and according to a real vision».

Consolidating the change

Once ascertained difficulties, Industry 4.0 has involved Italian factories in a «beneficial wave, clearly witnessed by the dialogue with more and more aware companies». Just recently, in the opinion of Morbi, software developers were the only ones discussing digitalization and the possible optimization of processes, whereas now we face «a more diffused and shared culture». However, this does not exclude there is still much to do. «In my opinion, the long wave is likely to go on along this year and probably in 2019, too – said Morbi – because a certain turmoil is still perceivable. Certainly, we have undertaken a course we cannot travel back and that requires, first of all, a consolidation of the steps forward taken until now». In this scenario, the focus of Stain has already been traced. «Focusing on Manufacturing execution systems is fundamental –ended Claudio Morbi – because Industry 4.0 requires specificity, to a greater extent from relatively small companies strongly rooted into the territory, like ours. Specialization, focus and verticalization are essential elements. Besides, the system integration must be driven rationally, faced by customers without fears. We explain it with the example of a good mechanic technician’s toolbox, which cannot contain only a wrench or a screwdriver but must be provided with a multiplicity of useful tools. Companies as well need different tools because problems are always different. If we can rely on partners’ and customers’ willingness, the connection, the interconnection of heterogeneous platforms, which is one of the big problems of the made in Italy, is absolutely feasible without shocks and with absolutely certain outcomes. Not fortuitously, we manage to integrate managerial systems of whatever manufacturer with excellent results».

Numbers do not lie

Mathematics is not an opinion, even more when the issue is calculating the success outcomes of the installation, according to 4.0 requirements, of the Mes platform by Stain at the headquarters of a valuable customer like Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta. Due to the implementation, Beretta has achieved the 15% productivity rise of its lines in terms of units-hours; the 70% decrease of the man-hours employed for data processing and management activities; the 50% drop of errors in inventory activities. Stocks have diminished by 19% and man-hours dedicated to inventories have decreased by 63%. A further witness of the validity of Stain solutions was provided by Galba, and collected in the e-book that Stain drew up on the occasion of its 25th anniversary in 2015. To the question regarding the influence exerted by Stain on the positive evolution of the company, protagonist in the sector of machining processes with high technological content for a variety of sectors, the owner Enrico Baiguera answered that the influence had been strong and perceivable. Adding, as confirmation of what said by Claudio Morbi in this article: «We have taken a big quality leap both in the technology used and in the organization. Moreover, we have hugely invested in automation, in control machines and robotics. (…) We have made big investments in the technological part, implementing the robotic work that integrates the manufacturing cycle: from the raw piece collection, in some cases directly from the caisson, without the operator has necessarily to touch the pieces to proceed afterwards to the machining. The target was reducing costs and maximising the company’s activity: precisely avoiding the impact of the “human cost” on the product as much as possible».

Cleaning with CO2 snow in a dry and residue-free process

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Trends such as electromobility, lightweight engineering, miniaturization and Industrie 4.0 have given rise to new challenges in the field of industrial parts cleaning. With its quattroClean system, acp offers a solution capable of performing a wide range of cleaning tasks reliably, reproducibly and cost-effectively. In addition, the dry, residue-free and environmentally-neutral cleaning technology can be adapted to individual requirements, is highly compact, easy to automate and simple to integrate into production lines, Industrie 4.0 manufacturing systems and cleanrooms.

By editorial staff

 Whether it is the automotive or supplier industry, precision or micro-engineering, medical technology, mechatronics, electronics or other industrial sector, current trends are changing requirements concerning parts cleaning. This also includes an increasing number of smaller and more complex parts and components. Shorter product life cycles, lower product volumes right down to the manufacture of single parts, the use of new materials and material combinations, for example for lightweight engineering applications, and new or modified production processes. Electromobility, autonomous driving and manufacturing environments designed for Industrie 4.0 are further developments which are influencing parts cleaning. There are cases where material combinations or surface structures are unsuitable for wet-chemical cleaning, or only certain areas of components need a specific degree of cleanliness, such as bonding, welding or sealing surfaces, or cleaning steps are performed on assembled components.

Scalable cleaning solution with CO2 snow

This is where the reliable and cost-effective snow jet technology from acp – advanced clean production GmbH comes into its own. The scalable cleaning system can be easily adapted to diverse component geometries to clean selective areas or whole components.

This environmentally-neutral technology uses liquid carbon dioxide as a cleaning medium which, as opposed to dry ice, is gained as a by-product from chemical processes and the generation of energy from biomass. It has an almost indefinite shelf-life and is supplied in cylinders or tanks.

Dry, residue-free and selective cleaning process

Liquid CO2 is guided through the non-wearing two-component ring nozzle of the acp system and expands on exiting to form fine CO2 crystals. These are then bundled by a circular jacketed jet of compressed air and accelerated to supersonic speed. The patented technology ensures uniform cleaning results – even on large surfaces where several nozzles are used.

A jet of CO2 snow removes particles in a dry and gentle process after laser direct structuring MIDs.

The jet of snow and compressed air has a temperature of minus 78.5°C and can be focused exactly where it is needed. When it impacts on the surface to be cleaned, a combination of thermal, mechanical, sublimation and solvent effects take place. These four cleaning mechanisms enable the quattroClean system to remove filmic contamination, such as residues of cooling lubricants, process oils, polishing pastes, separating agents and silicons, as well as particulate contamination, for example chips, dust and abrasion. Since the cleaning step with the non-combustible, non-corrosive and non-toxic CO2 snow is also gentle on materials, even delicate and finely-structured surfaces can be treated.

The aerodynamic force of the jet transports the detached dirt away. This is then extracted from the cleaning cell together with the sublimated CO2 in a gaseous state. The workpieces are dry on completion of the cleaning process, enabling them to be further processed or packaged straightaway.

Cleaning solution suitable for a wide range of products

The quattroClean snow jet technology has proved to be effective in numerous applications in various branches of industry. For example, the cleaning system has been in use for several years now to remove ablation residues from injection-molded interconnect devices (MID) produced by means of laser direct structuring. Compared with common cleaning methods, such as ultrasonic or high-pressure washing processes, the quattroClean system has the advantage that the rough laser structures are smoothed at the same time, thus simplifying joining and assembly tasks. Laser residues also need to be removed when manufacturing batteries. Residues from laser processing cells, which could cause shorting, are removed selectively and reliably. A manufacturer of sensor systems uses the snow jet technology from acp to clean off particles before sensors liable to damage are packaged. For this application, a hermetically-sealed cleaning cell was developed, which is integrated into a clean zone and fitted with a filter fan unit to supply clean air. The quattroClean system is also used in an inline application to clean engine pistons before their surfaces are optically measured. The parts are cleaned by a robot. The system works in the production system’s one-piece flow and is capable of cleaning 11 cm2/sec. When it comes to die-cutting, an almost manual system removes production residues from strips immediately after cutting. This single-part cleaning step replaces the commonly-used wet-chemical cleaning process.

Compared with common cleaning methods, such as ultrasonic or high-pressure washing processes, the quattroClean system has the advantage of smoothing rough laser structures at the same time (right).

Compact, easy to automate and targeted control

Thanks to its modular design, the compact quattroClean system from acp is easy to adapt to specific customer requirements. This allows manual, partially-automated and even fully-automated cleaning systems to be developed and integrated into existing production, assembly and packaging lines. Cleaning tests are conducted at the acp technical center to accurately determine all the process parameters for the application concerned, such as volume flows for compressed air and carbon dioxide, as well as the duration of the jet. Material properties and the type of contamination requiring removal are also accounted for. These parameters can be filed as cleaning programs in the system control. Depending on the task at hand, systems for cleanroom use can be realized with their own local cleanroom system, including a specially-adapted extraction system.

Liquid CO2 is fed through a non-wearing two-component nozzle and expands on exiting to form fine CO2 crystals, which are bundled by a circular jacketed jet of compressed air. This patented technology ensures uniform cleaning results.

Hunting wastes in bending

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The bending operator is a specialized worker who, besides producing good-quality parts, is also required to optimize the process. here are some practical suggestions.

Emiliano Corrieri

Whoever knows, or has read something about the “lean manufacturing”, perfectly knows what pillars rule such approach to the world of work. Several logics must be revised, many axioms are overturned in the wake of a common fundamental that compels to open our mind and to learn “to be broadminded”. Without investigating the methods and the stories of the illustrious forerunners of the manifold disciplines inherent to the quality and efficiency rise, it is however interesting to mention the famous “Ohno circle” because it is an as simple and effective technique that educates to rethinking of processes through the identification of wastes. It shows how it is important to be able “to set aside” our own habits, taking up ideally a point where enjoying an extraneous and new overview enabling to change perspective and to assess new aspects, ignored until few moments before. Ohno, just to know, was a famous and venerable manager of Toyota who was used to educating the new team leaders making them stand for hours and hours inside a circle he traced on the ground with a stick. The order was: «look and observe all that you see and that can be improved. Without getting out». I want to extend the concept to my world, press bending.

The “problem solver” bending operator

I often meet very skilled and passionate operators who, however, owing to a shortage of awareness, neglect the method. I explain better: nowadays the clever bending worker can no longer be only the operator who accomplishes an exact good-quality piece. Today the market calls also for a certain “problem solving” capability and a strong bent for the optimization of processes, at least in the realities (the majority of Italian ones) where machining outputs consist of small heterogeneous batches with breathtaking deliveries. That is the reason why the clever bending operator must necessarily accomplish the well-done work in the right time, making the fewest possible mistakes and with the intimate commitment to improve from time to time. Let us say the era of the “pedal thrusting” has almost ended. Yes, but from what should we start? Here is another very “lean” concept that, I daresay, shows the entire Japanese frugality: from what is already existing! Due to the lucky chance of having worked for years on bending machines, I know for certain that there are enormous improvement margins from the strictly operational point of view. Improvement that must go hand in hand with the business management organization one. For this reason, in the Bending Academy Courses I also focus on the strictly operational aspects that share in a higher quality and efficiency, without changing a single word!

Suggestions to reduce process times

1) Excellence in front of the press. The operator must keep the working area clean and in perfect order. Therefore, let us get off our feet those flying cables and those extensions that power stereos, fans, battery chargers for smartphone, refrigerators and any other gadget. The matter is not depriving workers of all comforts but dropping in production and putting everything in order, maybe with the aid of an electrician and inserting an additional plate, with the advantage of eliminating the risk of tripping. No scraps, and even less scattered drawings: each type of piece corresponds to a single drawing that faithfully accompanies it in the successive machining.

2) Only what is useful. Do you know Pareto theory? I suggest it to you, apply it!
Adapted to our world, it means that «20% of tools is useful for 80% of works».
Then, why having the entire Beta cart overturned between your feet if you use, most likely, an 8 Allen wrench, a protractor, a square (perhaps purposely made, like the one I supply in «Professional» courses), a hammer (the bending worker’s best friend) and a gauge? Dispassionate advice is to make a small frame where to hang only what you need for each machine and another (which can also be shared with the other operators) with the less used tools. Obviously, everything must be tidied up in the only place where it should stay.

3) Smart layout. What does it mean? Simple: creating ergonomics in front of the machine.
Benefitting from the widened space thanks to the order and the cleanliness examined in item number 1, we can park pieces smartly. To do that we must first identify the machining phases, then choose a loading and unloading zone requiring the least possible displacements and the least possible unnatural movements. What kind of bending operator is at stake, if I make 100 pieces very well but, besides bending, I run the New York marathon? Let us remember that a bending operator is a highly specialized worker who creates value only when he bends, not when he has a walk…The sizes, the shape, and the quantity (for intermediate phases, for instance) of loading and unloading areas can change. It is up to the operator’s phantasy, combined with experience, to organize spaces according to machining. It is a small preliminary study that, taking just few minutes of planning, can avoid notable wastes.

4) Optimization of CNC programmes. You can have endless improvement possibilities “playing” with the numerical control of the machine. For instance, choosing a work sequence that avoids re-bending, rotations or others. Then, the lowering of the Top Dead Centre that allows avoiding hundreds of idle strokes with consequent wastes of time. In addition, the correct use of photocells can save a lot of time. For instance, setting the box modality that allows a fast descent of the crossbeam up to the speed change point.

5) Quality. This aspect is achieved through a methodology to be acquired, unless already mastered, which is aimed at the pursuit of the “zero defect”, as well as the error reduction. For this reason, I decided to write a “Check list” for operators consisting of simple procedures that allow avoiding errors and increasing productivity, without having to pay one Euro, maintaining the positive things already existing in the company.

 

Didascalia

 

Foto autore: MR. Emilano Corrieri, teacher and founder of “Accademia della Piegatura”.

OMET, not only presses

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For almost forty years, Omet has designed and manufactured presses for different sectors, automotive and household appliances included, collaborating with primary multinational groups. a historical manufacturing propensity, completed, for some time now, by a more and more skilled technical support, has become distinguishing element through the supply of after sale service, maintenance and regeneration services for any machine typology and brand.

After working for years by press manufacturers, a close-knit group of 5 people decides to reap the fruits of the gained experience, establishing Omet in 1979. A strong business bent, competences and passion, which along the years generate a constant growth in terms of structure, production capacity, employees and turnover. A reality that has succeeded in treasuring its craft origins, developing its highlights and distinguishing traits, such as: detail care, the accurate choice of materials, flexibility and passion for one’s own activity. «At the same time – explains the general manager, the engineer Marco Romagnoli – Omet is a company that was able to accept the challenge of projecting craftsmanship into the future. With the target of making it become intrinsically the innovation accelerator». Approach that, since 2011 onwards, due to the occurred generational turnover, has benefitted from a further boost, which acted also as a driving engine to overcome the “unhappy” period of last years. «A positive trend – adds Mr Romagnoli – that has marked time very consistently especially since 2015 onwards. According to our perspectives, we aim at the 30% turnover rise by the next biennium». Target backed by the great organizational and rationalization capability of manufacturing processes, by the constant technological innovation and by design competences. Elements enabling the company to go on implementing high-quality, reliable and sturdy machines, able to provide a high precision degree and acknowledged on a world scale. Today Omet relies on a wide productive factory at Sforzacosta (industrial zone of Macerata), where thirty qualified employees (rising, also to face the acquired job orders) accomplish all manufacturing phases. This allows a high quality control of each single component, as product guarantee. «Since 2013 – Alessandro Moro, the marketing manager, specifies, starting explaining, – also a subsidiary in Poland has been present, Omet Poland, set up to supply, through one dozen skilled technicians, after sale services to the numerous customers, especially operating in automotive and household appliance ambit, which have delocalized their productions in that market». A distinguishing and differentiating trait that allows the company to provide a support, maintenance and assistance service not only for its own branded machines but also for all press typologies installed at customers. A service become so important in time that it actually constitutes an autonomous business division.

Omet produces a broad range of machines, standard and special mechanical presses, from the smallest 25- ton goose-neck version to 1,200-ton configurations, with a maximum working table of about 4,500 mm.

From qualified service to high-quality products

Established as manufacturer of mechanical presses, today Omet produces a broad range of machines and complete plants, whose design is cared by a team of specialized engineers who match strong sector experience and daily activity of research and experimentation, proposing innovative technical solutions that meet customers’ requirements at best. The decision of pursuing the high product quality has allowed the company to stand out both on the domestic and on the international market. «We can design and manufacture – specifies Mr Romagnoli –standard and special mechanical presses, from the smallest 25-ton goose-neck model to executions featuring 1,200 tons, with maximum working table up to around 4,500 mm. Referring to double sided presses, we can develop machines with the standard connecting rod/crank kinematics, with link-drive kinematic system, which allows the slowdown of the slide close to the BDC and therefore a “smoother” impact with the material under machining, or configurations with automatic stroke change».

Thanks to the engagement of new engineers, today part of Omet team, the company can design and manufacture presses with other kinematic system typologies, that is to say different motion curves of the slide (like for instance esadrive and servo-presses). «Some years ago – further adds Romagnoli – we also started producing hydraulic presses up to 500 tons». More in detail, the range of mechanical presses in the standard versions includes the following typologies: machines with C-frame up to 250 tons, with 1/2 connecting rods; with monolithic or modular double-sided structure from 160 to 1,200 tons, with 2/4 connecting rods. The range of hydraulic presses in the standard versions includes instead the following executions: monolithic or modular double-sided structure, from 160 to 500 tons; C-frame, from 10 to 250 tons. «Over one thousand of machines produced since the company set up are at stake – adds Romagnoli – for a total of 130,000 tons of thrust force introduced on the market». Outstanding numbers, confirmed by national and international customers that have trusted the company and are still confident in it. To offer a more and more complete service, on demand, Omet can directly supply complete forming lines composed by the press, by the sheet metal feeding line starting from coil, transfer, perimeter fences and so on. As alternative, for the forming process starting from squares, the supply includes also handlers. «Not mere supply – specifies Mr Romagnoli – but also testing and obviously the certification of the entire plant. Finally, the possibility of supporting customers also during the training phase, to teach them how to exploit at best and most correctly the potentialities offered by the machines and plants we propose». In 4.0 compliance, besides the manufacturing of machines already conforming to the demanded requisites, Omet is investing resources also in the development of a new and important project.

OMET stands out on the market for the service of support, maintenance and assistance not only for its own branded machines but also for all press typologies installed at customers’.

 

Mr Marco Romagnoli, General Manager of Omet Presse

«The target– ends Romagnoli – is having the most possible direct control of the machine. We are working at a lean but as efficient application able to provide an exhaustive overview of machining data, of the just-in-time status, but also of ordinary maintenance and control interventions. Opportunity that would allow also an immediate monitoring of statistical character, studied to provide data and information in very simple manner».

Struggling with customs duties

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On May 30th, at midnight, came officially into force the new provisions that, according to the Section 232, the United States Administration of Donald Trump has imposed on the import of steel and aluminium into the Country, with additional tariffs by 25 and by 10% respectively.

Roberto Carminati

An action of «pure protectionism» that exerts a serious impact on «a very strict partner from the economic, geo-strategic and political point of view». With these words, the general manager of Eurofer, Axel Eggert, commented the events of what he defined «a very bad day for the global trade exchange system». On May 30th, the US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross officialised in fact the launching of a measure much feared by international iron and steel contexts and especially by the European one. The latter, precisely represented by Eurofer, achieves an overall turnover amounting to 170 billion Euros and directly employs about 320,000 professionals in 500 plants. Since June 1st 2018, the sales of made in Europe steel and aluminium to USA will be charged with 25 and 10% customs duties respectively, as already feared previously. Identical measures are then likely to hit Mexico and Canada, other two nations until now spared by the duty war, oriented instead against China and Russia since the beginning. The White House has operated on the bases of the Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act signed in 1962, which provides for having recourse to defensive instruments of this kind in the name of the national safety. The European Union, as personally underlined by Axel Eggert, is now called to implement defence policies towards a possible invasion of products previously directed towards Washington and then diverted towards «the biggest open iron and steel market in the world». The one of the Old Continent, precisely, where already in the first months of 2018 the customs duties applied by United States against other nations triggered a wave of purchases and a surge (+8.4%) of import from January to April. Canada (26%) and Europe (16%: Germany and Italy took part with a share, in the order, by 5 and by 2%) are the primary suppliers of steel and aluminium to the States, whose minor demand would create annual losses corresponding to 14 billion dollars.

Domino effect

Already in the recent past, Eurofer had brought up the problem of a steel import reduction beyond the Atlantic from the current 35 million tons yearly to 20-25 million tons. The economic value of the European export has been calculated in about 5 billion dollars and the customs duty incidence in one billion overall. Inferior, but not for this reason scarcely significant, is the aluminium weight in this context. The sales of this material to USA generate a business worth of 1.2 billion dollars, according to estimates by European Aluminium, reported also by other press sources. The concerns of Authorities in Brussels are then dominated by the need of stemming the possible rebound of materials from North America to the EU. Nevertheless, the real danger is a clamorous domino effect, making the companies damaged by the duty tariffs reduce domestic good purchases from their suppliers, national and non-. In other words, as it was noticed also elsewhere, a negative impact of customs duties on the German industry would result in a decrease of the sales of Italian steel and aluminium to Berlin. The overall continental supply chain of steel and aluminium would be damaged, definitively. «The strategy by Donald Trump is based on the acquisition of a strong negotiation instrument towards its trade partners– Alessandro Fossati, trader and expert in steel market from Ticino Gamma Trade Sa, told Lamiera without mincing his words–in order to renegotiate the existing treaties and to obtain more favourable conditions for his Country. Canada, Mexico and Europe had not come to terms until now and the tug-of-war had been successful with Brazil or Korea, but not with the others excluded from the customs duty exemption, that is to say Russia, Turkey and China». However, the Trump-politics is not worrying in itself whereas it is instead the European reaction.

Manufacturing and distribution at risk

«In a time of boost of the continental industry and manufacturing in genera l– highlighted Fossati – the availability of a bigger quantity of steel caused by American customs duties should be welcomed positively because able to improve the competitiveness of the European industry. On the contrary, it seems that the intention is reacting with the erection of other barriers, besides those already existing, also by non-US Countries». It is worth reminding that «despite the installed productive capacity of 240 million tons yearly of its plants and a consumption of 160 million, Europe cannot satisfy, in some products mainly intended for manufacturing, 100% of the domestic requirements and it is therefore physiological that it imports about 25% of the requirements». Rumour has it that, after having taxed the import of the eight million tons typically coming from China and Russia («freely purchasable until two years ago») the Union is going to defend further the European steel plants by limiting or hindering the import from Turkey, India and Korea. This would not represent a problem for steel industries, whose margins, on the contrary, would be enormously favoured. It would be damaging for the enterprises that use steel, for distribution channels, traders, ports and shipping companies. «Moreover, the risk is a further delocalization of the manufacturing of products with a high content of steel», stated Fossati.

Self-learning assistance system for efficient processes

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SAM, a self-learning assistance system, helps machine operators resolve errors in production machines
SAM, a self-learning assistance system, helps machine operators resolve errors in production machines

To prevent long downtimes and high quantities of scrap, manufacturers must design production processes to be stable and efficient. Particularly successful outcomes are achieved when the experience of the people who operate the machines is taken into account. The Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Dresden is developing a self-learning assistance system that helps machine operators resolve errors and build up their experience and process knowledge.

By editorial staff

To take a concrete example: On a processing machine, chocolate bars are wrapped in paper. A sensor detects a deviation in the production process and the machine stops. Even with state-of-the-art systems, a brief interruption occurs on average every five minutes. An experienced machine operator knows where the cause of the error lies. He or she sees that the paper is bending and concludes that, in this case, the speed of the machine needs to be regulated. However, this knowledge is person-specific – a colleague with less experience would need more time to find the solution.

SAM: the self-learning assistance system for machine operators

To make this experience-based knowledge available to all operators at all times, scientists at Fraunhofer IVV in Dresden are developing SAM, a self-learning assistance system for machine operators. The system observes machine states and operator actions and saves successful solution strategies. Using a tablet computer, for example, the machine operator inputs his/her solution and then links it to the current fault situation recorded by SAM. If a given fault has occurred several times, SAM recognizes it and can give the operator tips on the cause and on how to solve the problem. In this way, the machine is quickly repaired and running again.

To enable SAM to learn fault situations, the scientists at Fraunhofer IVV are using machine learning algorithms. Equipped with intelligent feature extraction, SAM is able to learn at a similar speed as humans and can recognize patterns after only a few repetitions. “Thanks to our knowledge of packaging machine processes, we’re able to make SAM very fast,” explains Andre Schult, Group Manager for Digitalization and Process Efficiency at Fraunhofer IVV.

Working with SAM is a people-centered experience

When designing SAM, Fraunhofer IVV in Dresden put people at the center of their considerations. “A human being is a wonderful tool. With their hands and eyes, they are more flexible and better than many robots or cameras,” says Andre Schult. However, processes and systems are growing in complexity all the time. With SAM, Schult also wants to enable operators in the future to recognize errors themselves and suggest their own solutions. People should know that, despite all the state-of-the-art technology, humans play an indispensable role in production. This increases their sense of value in their work and their motivation.

Together with partners from industry and science, Fraunhofer IVV plans to further develop the self-learning operator assistance system over the next five years and add new functionalities through a range of new modules. In this way, it will be possible to adapt SAM to specific customer requirements. Possible additional features include things like the use of image processing, external sensors, and speech and gesture recognition. Looking forward, manufacturers will be able to use SAM both for the operation and for the maintenance, setup, assembly and development of machines.

The beginning of the year for machine tools in Italy

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Once ended the first half of the year, times are now mature to describe what happened in the machine tool sector in the first months of 2018. in that period, a slowdown of orders was registered, especially concerning the domestic market, fully justified by the peak scored at the end of 2017. global performances remain however above the average, confirming the good period the sector is living.

by editorial staff

In the first 2018 quarter, Ucimu index of machine tool orders decreases, affected by the 4.3% drop compared to the same period of the previous year. The absolute value (base 2010 = 100) remains anyway very high: 179.6. The slowdown of the orders achieved by Italian manufacturers on the domestic market is counterbalanced by the positive trend of the orders acquired beyond the borders. In particular, the index of foreign orders reached the 7.6% increment versus the same period in 2017, for an absolute value amounting to 180.8. Such a high level had never been attained. In the domestic ambit, instead, Italian manufacturers registered the 25.8% recession compared to first quarter of 2017. The absolute index value is equal to 175.3, therefore as many as 75 points above the average, confirming the still high intention of investing expressed by the Italian market.

January focus: istat confirms the positive driving role of engineering
Starting from the data reported in January 2018, ISTAT indexes of the industrial production are diffused in the new reference base 2015=100. In January 2018, the seasonally adjusted index of the industrial production decreased, compared to December 2017, by 1.9%. In the average of the November-January quarter, the index grew by 1% compared to the immediately previous quarter. In January, the index corrected of calendar effects scored the 4% rise in trend terms (since working days were 22 against 21 in January 2017). In tendential terms, the indexes corrected of calendar effects registered, in January 2018, significant rises in the groupings of consumer goods (+8.6%), of capital goods (+7.6%) and of intermediate goods (+6.2%); a strong decrease affected instead the energy field (-15.1%). Concerning economic activity sectors, in January 2018 the fields that achieved the highest tendential growth were metallurgy and metal products, with the exclusion of machines and plants (+14.1%), of textile industries, clothing, leathers and accessories (+11.1%) and of the other industries of machine and equipment manufacturing, repair and installation (+8.4%). The highest drops affected the fields of electric, gas, steam and air energy supply (-17.1%), of coke production, refined oil products and mining activity (both -3.5%). In the specific case of machines and equipment, in particular, it is worth pointing out -2.3% compared to December 2017. If we make the comparison with January 2017, however, we can notice as much as 5.4% corrected of the calendar effects. Not bad for a sector that until some years ago was strongly suffering from the crisis.

 Slight, not worrying, drop in machine tool orders

Massimo Carboniero, president of Ucimu – Production Systems has commented: “The slowdown of the orders achieved on the domestic market does not worry us for two reasons. Essentially, because the result of these first three months is clearly the rebound effect of the extraordinary exploit scored at the end of 2017 when customers, fearing that super- and hyper-amortization incentives were not confirmed, speeded up the practices for job orders. Secondly, because the result is compared with an extraordinary first 2017 quarter”. “In January, the order collection in Italy – added Massimo Carboniero – was weak but already in the successive months the situation improved.

Positivity… but with caution. the opinion of Ascomut
The Italian machine tool market is certainly sound. The 2017-year ended with all main indicators with positive sign: the production of the local industry grew to 5.5 billion Euros, imports to 1.4, exports to 3.2 and domestic consumptions to 3.7. A neat convincing growth that confirms expectations and has allowed the 2018 beginning with the best prospects. As usual, Ascomut has carried out the quarterly survey about the sector and short-term forecasts with its member companies. This has highlighted some interesting indications. Mainly, the first quarter of the year scored a growing trend versus the same 2017 period for 71% of interviewees, thus confirming an already consolidated trend. 18% underline a stationary trend, mirroring the same levels as 12 months ago, whereas around 10% of the answers highlight a decrease.

However, the sector seems to converge towards a settling phase. The last semester shows positive signs for 71% of the answering companies. Three months ago, the trend of the previous semester was indicated as growing by 80% of the answers: the share of those reporting a stable trend notably improves. It was 14% three months ago, now it is 21%. The percentage of those affected by a negative semester remains very low: they are 7% against 5.7% of the last quarter. In terms of forecasts, signs of higher caution have been surveyed. Three months ago optimistic were 65%, now they are 60%. The percentage difference has totally moved to the forecast of a stable year compared to the previous one. 2018-year will achieve the same levels as 2017 in the opinion of 34% of interviewees, (they were 28.5% three months ago). Neatly marginal, today like in the last quarter, the share of those expecting a negative year, which confirms to be about 5%. A market that seems to slow down its upswing, combined with the understandable concerns for a highly unstable political and international situation, induce to more caution in the forecast related to the short-term general economic prosecution. The growing trend, which just three months ago was hypothesized by 51% of answers, is now indicated by 45%. The party of those hypothesizing a stable business situation slightly rises (it grows from 45.7% to 47.3%) and the percentage of those “that look on the dark side of things” grows, even if it remains a neatly minority percentage: they were around 3% three months ago, and currently they represent about 8%.

However, at present, the expected recovery might be damaged by the political uncertainty the Country is living”. “The uncertainty followed to elections’ results last March is certainly not helpful for entrepreneurs and especially for all those called to decide whether to make investments of a certain relevance. For this reason, we hope in a Government programme oriented to the development of the manufacturing sector competitiveness, without giving up all positive things– in terms of reforms and provisions – implemented in the last few years”. “On the other hand, Ucimu-Production Systems is committed in the internationalization ambit, too, with the organization of numerous initiatives aimed at supporting the presence of the sector Made in Italy in foreign traditional and rising markets”. “As in the case of the mission dedicated to Asean Countries, held ten days ago in Singapore, in which Ucimu participated with the goal of establishing and consolidating also commercial relationships and partnerships with local players”.

Among the suppliers of machine tools in Asean nations, after Asian Countries, clearly closer by geography and culture, Italy represents the second supplier, ranking closely to Germany. “The Asean manufacturing industry – stated the president Carboniero – is currently involved in an impressive process of economic growth and social progress. Italian machine tool manufacturers can be not only suppliers of solutions and technology for the users of this area, which has bought Italian technology for some years now, but also partners of local manufacturers interested in an offer of excellent qualitative level and able to be fully complementary to their production. We intend to propose again this model, defined some months ago for the Chinese market, in the Countries characterized by more dynamic development rates; we are in the early phases but the preliminary conditions and the acceptance reserved to this proposal seem favourable”.

Prima Power announces the Grand Opening of its new Technology Center in Munich

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Prima Power is pleased to announce the official opening of its new Technology Center in Neufahrn, near Munich.

The new location is in the heart of the D-A-CH area. As a result, Prima Power is now able to better serve the entire German-speaking market and to be much closer to the regions where its machines are already in use or where the group see the highest growth potential.

Paolo Musante, Prima Power GmbH Managing Director states: „The new Technology Center will serve as a center of excellence and will have a strong focus on customer satisfaction, since from this location we can offer our customers a highly efficient support, especially for the industrial areas of Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Munich, as an international transport hub, is excellently connected to the European railway and motorway network and has the second largest airport in Germany. This is very important for us as a globally active company, especially as it means we can now be reached relatively quickly and easily for our customers from other European countries as well.“

Prima Power GmbH in Neufahrn employs 55 people (of which 35 are dedicated to Customer support) and covers an area of 1,800 m2. Around half of the area hosts the Demonstration Center, where live demonstrations of our latest technologies and products can be attended by a large number of guests.In addition to offices, two conference rooms are available with a direct view of the Demonstration Center. They are mainly destined to events, customer visits, meetings, seminars, but also training for Prima Power engineers and employees in general.

In line with Prima Power GmbH growth strategy, the aim is to have a team of 70 employees in the new subsidiary by 2020. The expansion is mainly foreseen, in addition to sales and service, in application and training staff, to further grow as a state-of-the-art Competence Center.

Prima Power GmbH is part of Prima Industrie, a Group with more than 1700 employees around the world and 450 m€ revenues, 5% of which is realized in the D-A-CH area. The group in 2017 celebrated 40 years of activity and a record year for all main financial indicators, with 14% increase in revenues, +18% in order intake, and +83% in Net Profit). The opening of the new facility in Munich is part of a larger plan of investments to increase its presence on strategic markets and to expand and improve its set of Technology Centers, for a better and more complete customer experience.

As part of the opening event, guests will be given a live demonstration of the Technology Center’s capabilities and will be able to attend to a series of lectures on main trends of sheet metal processing, such as 3D fiber laser cutting and Industry 4.0. Theory and practice will be therefore combined in order to give the widest overview of the sector.

In the new Technology Center, the latest innovations in Prima Power product portfolio are on display: the fastest 3D fiber laser cutting machine on the market Laser Next 1530 (the smaller sister of the recently launched 2141 version), the high performing 2D fiber laser machine Laser Genius 1530, the combined punching and fiber laser system Combi Genius 1530 with servo-electric technology, the highly efficient servo-electric bending cell BCe Smart, and the fast, accurate and efficient servo-electric press brake eP-1030. All products are Industry 4.0 Inside for digital, interconnected and data-driven manufacturing.

Paolo Musante concludes: „The opening of the new Technology Center in Munich is a key step in support of Prima Power’s continued growth in the D-A-CH market, where we see strong growth potential for Prima Power in all industrial markets. This new location will allow Prima Power to offer a stronger and more efficient direct support to new and existing customers in the area.”